Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type



Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Steven Vanderheiden

Second Advisor

Dale Miller

Third Advisor

William Boyd


Over the past decades, technological advances in natural gas drilling has allowed for nonconventional gas extraction. The new technology of combining vertical and horizontal drilling has sparked a gas boom in the United States. Though natural gas is seen as a cleaner solution to coal and dirtier fossil fuels, there has been an increased controversy over states ability to regulate the changing industry. Many environmentalists argue that HF is causing environmental damages while industries have denied such allegations. States and local governments have scrambled to keep up with the gas boom and public concerns have risen sharply. This article is policy neutral and analyzes whether or not hydraulic fracturing should be federalized. Texas, Colorado, and federal entities such as BLM land and Coastal Zones will be compared for environmental regulatory protection, enforcement capabilities, and number of violations. For analytical purposes, produced water was the only process analyzed. The results concluded that there are transparency issues and wide inconsistencies between states. Due to the wide variety in access to information, number of inspections, and violation data, this study suggests that the federal government should take a bigger role in hydraulic fracturing, but full federalization would be inefficient because of regional differences.