As technologies change and the scale of human activity grows, so too does the law. The surge of oil and gas production in the United States, spurred by hydraulic fracturing in shale formations, has fomented a sea change in oil and gas law, substantially infusing this area with more complex environmental and property principles. Widespread demands for legal and policy-based solutions to the environmental and social impacts of oil production and fracking have transformed the field from one focused on maximizing fossil fuel production into one of environmental conservation. This is dramatically demonstrated by sweeping Colorado legislation in 2019, changes to the common law of oil and gas by local governments and landowners, and the extension of procedural environmental protections and state constitutional environmental rights to the oil and gas realm. Collectively, though not uniformly, a spectrum of changes to state statutes and common law has rendered an expansive reshaping of oil and gas law that amounts to a legal revolution.
Hannah Jacobs Wiseman, Tara K. Righetti, and James W. Coleman, The New Oil and Gas Governance, 130 Yale L.J. Forum 51 (2020).