December 10, 2013 - A new interactive map detailing laws and regulations governing water quality issues associated with increased shale oil and gas activities in 11 states was released today on LawAtlas.org. The map includes laws and regulations from Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
These states overlay major shale regions, such as the Bakken, Eagle Ford, Greater Green River, Marcellus, Niobrara, Piceance, San Juan, Permian, Powder River, Mancos, and Uinta.
Oil and gas production has increased nationwide as technological developments have improved processes for directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. These practices involve pumping pressurized water, sand, and chemicals down wells to crack bedrock, freeing petroleum and natural gas. Wastewater discharges, hydraulic fracturing fluid releases, and other accidental spills pose potential water quality risks in areas where these technologies are being used.
In October, the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicted that the United States would surpass Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world's largest producer of oil and natural gas by the end of the year. The boom has resulted in oil and gas development in regions unaccustomed to the industry as well as in regions that have a century-long relationship with oil and gas extraction.
"The development of oil and gas wells, particularly in urban and suburban areas, coupled with the practice of hydraulic fracturing has heightened interest in laws designed to protect water quality," said Matt Samelson, JD, the dataset creator, attorney, and consultant for CU-Boulder's Intermountain Oil and Gas Best Management Practices Project. "When development occurs in these places and conversations about best regulatory practices increase, there is tremendous value in examining laws and policies already in place."
Because of the uniqueness of water quality regulations depending on the stage of oil and gas development, the Oil & Gas - Water Quality LawAtlas map has been divided into five stages of oil and gas development activities: Permitting, Design and Construction; Well Drilling; Well Completion; Production and Operation; and Reclamation.
Visitors to the site can search by statute categories or by state. The dataset that powers the map contains nearly 100 distinct questions and corresponding regulations, including an oft-cited oil and gas development questions, such as public disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluid; baseline water source testing; disposal of water from hydraulically fractured wells, and spill and accident reporting. In the coming year, datasets for water quantity and air quality pertaining to oil and gas development will be added to the website.
CU-Boulder's Intermountain Oil and Gas Best Management Practices Project, part of the Getches Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment, developed the Oil & Gas - Water Quality map using the Public Health Law Research LawAtlas system. The map is supported by the Environmentally Friendly Drilling Program and a Sustainability Research Network grant.
To explore the map, visit: http://lawatlas.org/oilandgas
June 6, 2011 - A comprehensive survey of state distracted driving provisions, conducted by PHLR's Jennifer Ibrahim, Evan Anderson, Scott Burris, and Alex Wagenaar, was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine this month.
Background: State laws limiting the use of mobile communications devices (MCDs) by drivers are being enacted at an accelerating pace. Public health law research is needed to test various legislative models and guide future legal innovation.
Purpose: To defıne the current state of the law, facilitate new multi-state evaluations, and demonstrate the utility of systematic, scientifıc legal research methods to improve public health services research.
Methods: Westlaw and Lexis–Nexis were used to create a 50-state, open-source data set of laws restricting the use of any form of MCD while operating a motor vehicle that were in effect between January 1, 1992, and November 1, 2010. Using an iterative process, the search protocol included the following terms: cellphone, cell phone, cellular phone, wireless telephone, mobile telephone, text, hands-free, cell! and text! The text and citations of each law were collected and coded across 22 variables, and a protocol and code book were developed to facilitate future public use of the data set.
Results: Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia have at least one form of restriction on the use of MCDs in effect. The laws vary in the types of communication activities and categories of driver regulated, as well as enforcement mechanisms and punishments. No state completely bans use of MCDs by all drivers.
Conclusions: State distracted-driving policy is diverging from evidence on the risks of MCDuse by drivers. An updatable data set of laws is now available to researchers conducting multistate evaluations of the impact of laws regulating MCDs by drivers. If this data set is shown to be useful for this public health problem, similar rigorously developed and regularly updated data sets might be developed for other public health issues that are subject to legislative interventions. (Am J Prev Med 2011;40(6):659–665)
© 2011 American Journal of Preventive Medicine