This paper examines copy-and-paste regulating in hydraulic fracturing (HF) fluid disclosure regulation across US states. Using text analysis, cluster analysis and document coding, we compare HF regulations of twenty-nine states and two “model bills” drafted by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF, an environmental NGO). In contrast to recent studies that have documented ALEC's widespread influence across policy domains, we find limited evidence of ALEC influence in HF fluid disclosure regulations. Instead, elements of the EDF bill are more prevalent across state regulations. Yet, text similarity scores between states are higher than similarity scores between states and the EDF bill. In particular, Colorado and to a lesser extent Pennsylvania functioned as leader states for other states to follow. This indicates that state-to-state communication was a more influential channel of policy diffusion than interest group model bills in this instance. Future research should better examine processes of information sharing amongst state oil and gas regulators as regulatory text is but one channel of policy diffusion. The cluster analysis also reveals that contiguous states, often within the same shale basins, frequently have different regulations. This finding calls for a reconsideration of the current state-led environmental regulatory framework for HF, which has resulted in a patchwork of regulations across the US. Finally, through the use of novel text analysis tools, this paper adds methodological diversity to the study of policy diffusion within energy policy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering
- Fuel Technology
- Energy Engineering and Power Technology
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)