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Efficient Environmental Regulation in the Unconventional Oil Industry

US oil production has skyrocketed since 2007. Technological advances in oil and gas drilling (commonly referred to as ‘fracking’) have allowed producers to access vast petroleum reserves that were previously too costly to recover. The growth in oil and gas production from unconventional sources has been tremendous, so that unconventional sources now make up more than 50 percent of total US petroleum production (EIA 2015). While this represents a boost to job growth and the broader economy, growth in the oil industry comes with its fair share of problems. Academics and news agencies have documented a host of costs associated with new oil and gas production— groundwater pollution, oil spills, large “man camps” and increased crime, and even increases in traffic accidents and exploding train cars. Some of these costs were seen in Iowa with the contentious nature of right-of-way issues associated with building out the Dakota Access pipeline across the state. Farmers and environmentalists alike are bound together in their concern for right-of-way, human rights concerns, and environmental issues.

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Iowa State University