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Mapping Fracking: An Analysis of Law, Power, and Regional Distribution in the United States

By Benjamin E. Apple

This Note posits a framework with which to analyze U.S. fracking development at local and regional scales. It aims to illuminate the ways in which three legal regimes — private rights, public government regulation, and local government law — influence the interactive dynamics between local and regional actors, which in turn determine the distribution of fracking impacts across a regional mosaic of municipalities. Deploying this framework, the Note first concludes that law and economic-based disparities in bargaining power across municipalities should result in unequal exposure to fracking development and its suite of consequences, both beneficial and detrimental. It then sketches the substantive motivations, powers, and stakes of the most common actors in fracking development. Finally, it analyzes the stakes of a pending Pennsylvania Supreme Court case, Robinson Township v. Commonwealth, regarding the scope of municipal power to regulate fracking development.

Cite as: Benjamin E. Apple, Mapping Fracking: An Analysis of Law, Power, and Regional Distribution in the United States, 38 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 217 (2014).

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