What is, or should be, the interest of government bodies in deciding whether or not to regulate or ban fracking?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In a capitalist system like our own, the role of government is generally to stay out of the way.  The government is supposed to allow people to do their own thing (whether it be in terms of moral decisions or in terms of economic decisions) unless their decisions are likely to have a serious impact on other people.  With respect to the issue of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), the interest of the government is and should be to ensure that fracking does not do too much damage to the interests of the people.

There are at least two ways in which fracking could potentially harm people.  First, the process of fracking involves the use of a great deal of water with chemicals in it.  Some people worry that this water will get into the ground water and that the chemicals will be harmful to the people who use that ground water.  Second, there are geological worries.  There are people who fear that fracking can destabilize geological formations.  This will, they fear, lead to localized earthquakes.  If either of these things were to happen, many people could be harmed.  Because there is the potential for fracking to harm people, the government has an interest in determining whether that potential is serious enough to warrant regulating or banning fracking.