Regulating Hydraulic Fracturing: The Effects of Issue Redefinition
The possibility of extracting shale gas using hydraulic fracturing on a large scale has invoked a public and political debate about the creation of an appropriate regulatory regime for such activities at the European level. The issues of shale gas extraction and the use of hydraulic fracturing were brought onto the EU policy agenda by the European Council. The policy image created by the European Council was a positive one, which linked shale gas production with the security of energy supply. The resulting policy process developed around a different policy image that highlighted the uncertain risks related to hydraulic fracturing in regard to human health and the environment. This redefinition of the policy image was primarily the result of the European Parliament’s involvement in the policy process as well as the expansion of the political conflict over this issue. While the potential risks of hydraulic fracturing dominated the policy process, the overall outcome of the policy process was a mild reform of the existing legal basis. From this, it follows that issue redefinition certainly resulted in changes in the dynamics of the policy process but had limited effects on the outcome of this process.
KeywordsMember State European Commission Policy Process Precautionary Principle Environmental Impact Assessment
The research leading to this chapter has received funding from the project entitled “Agenda Setting in European Energy Policy: Actors, Preferences and Strategies” funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation (Grant Number: Az. 10.13.2.141).
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