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Oil & Gas Financial Journal: Current State of Hydraulic Fracturing

In the August 2009 issue of Oil & Gas Financial Journal, Baker Botts lawyers Daniel Steinway and Thomas Jackson write about how hydraulic fracturing is an increasingly important part of energy production in the United States.

“While the technology has been used for 60 years to enhance production from oil and gas wells, today hydraulic fracturing is essential to making gas wells in many types of unconventional formations such as shales economically viable,” Steinway and Jackson point out. “As a result, this long-standing practice holds the key to unlocking vast domestic reserves of natural gas that can contribute to America’s energy security while helping to address climate change concerns.”

Hydraulic fracturing operations have long been regulated by state officials as part of their oil and gas regulatory programs, the lawyers state.

“These programs have been highly successful, allowing hydraulic fracturing operations to enhance recovery of critical domestic energy supplies while protecting water resources. As a result, Congress has seen no need to complicate matters with federal regulatory requirements and as recently as 2005 amended the Safe Drinking Water Act to affirm that hydraulic fracturing is not to be regulated under that statute except in very limited circumstances involving the use of diesel as a fracturing fluid,” Steinway and Jackson say.

Notwithstanding this long track record of safe and effective use of hydraulic fracturing techniques and an absence of any hard evidence that hydraulic fracturing has affected drinking water resources, efforts are underway in Congress and in a number of states and local jurisdictions across the country to impose a variety of new restrictions on hydraulic fracturing. These efforts to impose additional regulatory requirements on hydraulic fracturing have the potential to significantly impact domestic energy production and are unwarranted in light of existing studies which demonstrate that the practice poses little threat to drinking water, they state.

To read the Oil & Gas Financial Journal article, “Hydraulic Fracturing: the curent state of play,” please click here.

Daniel M. Steinway advises major corporate entities and trade organizations on all facets of civil and criminal environmental law. He provides representation in all aspects of environmental and health and safety (EH&S) litigation arising under federal and state statutes and common law causes of action.

Thomas Jackson handles all aspects of environmental law, including client counseling, permitting, trial court and appellate litigation, administrative hearings and arbitrations and legislative matters. He also helps clients assess proposed rules and other public documents such as Environmental Impact Statements.

About Baker Botts L.L.P.
Baker Botts L.L.P., dating from 1840, is a leading international law firm with offices in Abu Dhabi, Austin, Beijing, Dallas, Dubai, Hong Kong, Houston, London, Moscow, New York, Palo Alto (California), Riyadh and Washington, D.C.. With approximately 800 lawyers, Baker Botts provides a full range of legal services to international, national and regional clients. For more information, please visit

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