YCELP Partners With Pace Law School on Shale Oil and Gas Development Project

As more and more municipalities grapple with hydraulic fracturing (outright bans on fracking risk state preemption, while uncontrolled drilling risks negative community and environmental impacts), researchers from the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy (YCELP) and Pace Law School are developing tools to meet the needs of local governments.

Researchers at YCELP and Pace Law School’s Land Use Law Center (with support from the Oscar M. Ruebhausen Fund and Yale Climate & Energy Institute) are leading an outreach, analysis, and guidance effort to help address this potential shale gas governance gap at the local level. The team aims to support municipal leaders in developing effective local regulatory, non-regulatory, and planning practices to address the impacts, both positive and negative, of shale oil and gas development.

Building on workshops held in December 2013 and March 2014, the team is working on a thorough guide to potential issues that local governments may face, to then be fashioned into a robust training program for municipal leaders.

In late March, Yale Law School hosted a workshop titled “Closing the Shale Gas Governance Gap,” which called on municipal leaders from across the country to share their local strategies and best practices for governing unconventional oil and gas development.

After several presentations and the discussions that followed—moderated by Professor John Nolon from Pace Law School and the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies—two clear lessons emerged. Local governments have the legal capacity to address many impacts of hydraulic fracturing, and they can exhibit a wide variety of approaches and strategies to do so.

Attendees have hailed the discussion and the project at large as a groundbreaking effort to empower local governments and the communities they represent, according to a recent article by Environment and Energy Publishing.

The March event follows a December 2013 expert panel and workshop at the Pace Land Use Law Center’s Annual Conference, which aimed to evaluate the ways in which federal and state regulatory schemes are failing to address the impact of fracking at a local level.