The Oil and Gas Evolution: Learning from the Hydraulic Fracturing Experiences in North Dakota and West Virginia

15 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2012 Last revised: 25 Mar 2015

Date Written: November 14, 2012


This Article discusses major differences and similarities in U.S. oil and gas extraction via hydraulic fracturing through a comparison of the experiences in North Dakota and West Virginia. Although there are other parts of the country experiencing growth in oil and gas extraction, Pennsylvania and Texas as but two examples, North Dakota and West Virginia are particularly apt for comparison. Both states have relatively small populations, meaning that the impact of large-scale energy extraction in each state is likely to have a large impact on the state, economically, environmentally, and socially.

This paper focuses on three main areas of comparison. First, the Article discusses the impact of the oil industry in North Dakota and the gas industry in West Virginia, including portions of the the financial, environmental, and social impacts of the hydraulic fracturing boom. Next, the article discusses briefly the legislative and regulatory landscape of both states and how each state’s approach to enforcement and planning can and is likely to impact development in the state. Finally, the Article concludes that the North Dakota and West Virginia experiences can and should inform state and federal policy with regard to hydraulic fracturing and energy policy generally, and provides some suggestions designed to maximize the value of the lessons already learned.

Keywords: hydraulic fracturing, fracking, oil, natural gas, gas, energy law, regulation

JEL Classification: Q4, Q40, Q41, Q48, Q13, Q21, Q28, Q3, Q31, Q31, Q33, Q38

Suggested Citation

Fershee, Joshua Paul, The Oil and Gas Evolution: Learning from the Hydraulic Fracturing Experiences in North Dakota and West Virginia (November 14, 2012). Texas Wesleyan Law Review, Vol. 19, No. 1, 2012, WVU Law Research Paper No. 2012-14, Available at SSRN: or

Joshua Paul Fershee (Contact Author)

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