Historically, the states have taken the lead in regulating the oil and gas industry. In some states, such as Ohio, local zoning restrictions that addressed oil and gas development at the municipal, county or township level have been eliminated by the state legislature.
A national debate is now brewing over whether the primary regulatory role, or perhaps a significant supplemental role, should be assumed by the federal government, specifically the US EPA. Social media and the broader internet have fueled concerns (and spread confusion) about the safety of “fracking”. The US EPA has already developed regulations pertaining to air pollution produced by oil and gas development. In as much as the impact of such pollution is felt across state lines, that seems to be a logical outcome. What goes on below the surface, however, is a very local level and has, therefor, traditionally been regulated on a non-national basis.
Recently, two law professors wrote thoughtful opinion pieces on the issue of federal versus state regulation. Click here to see what they had to say.