Volume 29

A Lesson from the Shale Revolution in the United States, Canada, and China

by Da Young Kim

This Article surveys policy and regulatory responses taken by the governments of the United States, Canada, and China in response to the advent of fracking. It also adopts a comparative perspective to develop a list of considerations that the governments of countries already engaged, or thinking about engaging in, shale gas production could use to guide their respective legal frameworks in the context of shale gas development. Absent a dramatic overturn of economic, environmental, or energy policies in those countries, it would be fair to state that the United States, Canada, and China will continue to be the three largest shale gas producers in the world. Depending on their policy priorities, political environment, and the maturity of their shale gas developments, the regulatory reactions of the three countries have varied. Given the similar democratic governmental structures and political environments of the United States and Canada, this Article first discusses the current regulatory systems of the two countries together and China’s regulatory system separately.1 Next, this Article compares the three systems and identifies common issues that the three countries face. The similarities in the countries’ government structures, jurisdictional conflicts, multidirectional mandates and policies, and lack of regulations that are targeted for shale gas production, provide information from which countries can use to develop their legal frameworks for shale gas extraction.

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1. For the purpose of understanding the shale gas industry and regulations comparatively, specific and different nuances of the political environments in the United States and Canada will not be discussed in this Article.