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Great passions are expended in disputing the pros and cons of regulation. Yet people on both sides of it act afraid that regulation will be improved. The trait is mystifying unless we look inside.
A current event shows the shrouded impulses at work.
New York State is on the verge of a giant boost in extracting natural gas from deep shale formations by means of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The prospects for the next 30 years are to see tens of thousands of gas wells drilled and fracked.
To look ahead, New York is undertaking a new review of the safety risks. News stories on the nature of the review breed slim hope it will do anything new or better.
The stories say the review is focused on health and environmental risks. The review is headed by New York’s health commissioner, who is an able physician. “Health” is the subject; “regulation” is unmentioned.
A study of fracking and health problems will find places where they occur and many more places where they do not. The result tells us nothing not already known.
A decision will be made on fracking, either to stop or proceed. Lawsuits will be filed by one or more sides. The old course will be run again, yielding little in return for the time and money lost in the run.
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