C|M|LAW Professor and Associate Dean Heidi Gorovitz Robertson has published Applying Lessons from the Gulf Oil Spill to Hydraulic Fracturing, at 63 Case Western Res. L. Rev. 1279 (2013). In this article, Robertson notes that Ohio is moving quickly towards hydraulic fracturing of horizontal wells and some argue it has insufficiently considered and managed that rush in light of the potentially disastrous, albeit unlikely, consequences of groundwater contamination, explosion at wells or drilling sites, depletion of freshwater supply as high volumes are used in fracturing, and disposal of contaminated flowback water. Similarly, although drilling for oil from deep water rigs was neither a new idea nor a new technology when the Macondo well blew out on April 20, 2010—killing 11 people, spewing tons of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, and sinking a $50 million drilling rig—most deep water wells that preceded it had not been drilled quite so deeply into the seafloor. Many of the technologies employed there were untested at such great depths, and regulation and enforcement had not kept pace with the advances in technology. This Article considers just a few of the lessons identified through government and other studies that followed the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. It considers how those lessons might be applied to Ohio’s regulation of hydraulic fracturing in the hope that Ohio can avoid some of the same mistakes that arguably paved the way for the blowout in the Gulf. In particular, this Article discusses three areas of potential concern: agency structure and responsibility, inadequacies in research or follow though, and emergency planning and preparedness for disaster.
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