Abstract

The objective of this research was to identify hydraulic fracturing regulations from a range of jurisdictions, verify the grounds for regulatory intervention within the scientific literature and categorize the statements according to the geospatial application.

Specific regulations constraining aspects of hydraulic fracturing activities from jurisdictions across the world were collated to identify common features relating to environmental protection, administrative requirements and grammatical structure. Regulations from 55 jurisdictions including states in the US, provinces in Canada, Australian states, European countries, Africa and South America were assessed and common focus areas identified, allowing for the development of a regulatory suite of universal application. Regulations could be ascribed to partitions of the environment including the lithosphere, the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, biosphere and the social framework.

Some 32 distinct elements were identified as frequent constraints to hydraulic fracturing located in three geospatial zones: off-site; wellsite; and, wellhead. The scientific literature for each of these areas was critically assessed and summary reviews developed as a comprehensive and wide ranging review of environmental impacts.

The specific use of open ended risk regulation as part of control documents (a permit or regulatory framework) appears to have been promoted as a catch-all in the absence of knowledge within the regulatory agency as if there is a lack of evidence supporting directed regulation. As an output of this research a Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response model was developed reflecting the substantial literature base that extends well back into the 1970s, with the initial development of coalbed methane in the Rockies and the Southern States and since the 1990s with shale. The paper calls into question claims of "We don't know enough".

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