Drilling Down Natural Gas Well Permitting Policy: Examining the Effects of Institutional Arrangements on Citizen Participation and Policy Outcomes
Description: Over the past decade the movement of natural gas drilling operations toward more suburban and urban communities has created unique policy challenges for municipalities. Municipal response is manifest in a variety of institutional arrangements, some more enabling than others regarding citizen access to public hearings. This observation lead to the main research question, “How are variations in citizen participation affecting policy outcomes?” The argument is made that institutions affecting citizen participation, in turn affect policy outcomes. If the general public is given access to public hearings, their preferences for longer setbacks will be taken into account and the approved gas wells will have greater distances from neighboring residences – effectively providing for greater safety. Given the paucity of research on the topic of natural gas drilling, the research first begins with the presentation of a theoretical framework to allow for analysis of the highly complex topic of gas well permitting, emphasizing the rule-ordered relationships between the various levels of decision making and provides a typology of collective action arenas currently used by Texas municipalities. The research uses paired case studies of most similar design and employs a mixed methods process for the collection, analysis and interpretation of the municipal level gas well permitting process. The investigation includes a complete census of 185 approved gas wells from four North Texas cities between the years 2002-2012; 20 interviews comprised of city officials and drilling operators; and archival records such as gas well site plans, ordinances, on-line government documents and other public information. The findings reveal that zoning institutions are associated with a 15% longer gas well setback than siting institutions and institutions without waivers are associated with a 20% longer gas well setback than institutions with waiver rules. The practical implications suggest that citizen participation has a positive effect on public safety ...
Date: August 2013
Creator: Long, Laurie C.
Partner: UNT Libraries