Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2016CA359B

Explaining Current and Future Trends in Adoption by California Municipalities and Counties of Policies Limiting or Banning High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing

Institute: California
Year Established: 2016 Start Date: 2016-03-01 End Date: 2017-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $12,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $4,091

Principal Investigators: Gwen Arnold

Abstract: This project uses quantitative modeling to investigate the factors affecting whether jurisdictions in California adopt policies limiting or banning high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF), a relatively new, controversial form of natural gas and oil drilling that is poised for a boom in California. HVHF is a water-intensive technique that could exacerbate water stress, and the practice has been connected to contamination of California aquifers. Establishing local restrictions on HVHF may be an important way to protect the quantity and quality of California water resources, so it is important to understand the conditions that facilitate or inhibit passage of such restrictions. This question has been minimally investigated. Considering the population of sub-state jurisdictions in California (counties and municipalities), this project tests the hypotheses that jurisdictions will be more likely to adopt anti-HVHF policies when citizens perceive that HVHF poses a greater threat to water supplies and when anti-HVHF interest groups/advocates are more active in the jurisdiction, and less likely to adopt such policies when the jurisdiction has more past experience with oil and gas drilling and when pro-HVHF interest groups/advocates are more active in the jurisdiction. These hypotheses will be tested using multivariate regression. The analysis will be informed by data collected in online surveys of HVHF-knowledgeable local government officials, administered in 2015 and 2016 (with subsequent iterations planned pending funding). The research results will provide actionable information to local government officials and to pro- and anti-HVHF groups/advocates seeking to influence local decision-making.