Energy, Governance and Sustainability

Energy, Governance and Sustainability

The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series

Edited by Jordi Jaria i Manzano, Nathalie Chalifour and Louis J. Kotzé

This book makes an in-depth and timely contribution to the debate about how to transform our energy governance systems into ones that support a fair, safe and sustainable society. It combines perspectives from leading scholars around the world to provide a global outlook on alternative approaches to energy governance and innovative experiences. Taken as a whole, it offers a unique snapshot of some of the innovative and novel ways in which law can support the shift to sustainable and equitable energy systems.

Chapter 3: Ten good practices in environmental constitutionalism that can contribute to sustainable shale gas development

James R. May and Erin Daly

Subjects: environment, environmental governance and regulation, environmental law, law - academic, energy law, environmental law, regulation and governance, politics and public policy, environmental governance and regulation


Unconventional shale gas development (also sometimes known as ‘hydrofracturing’ or ‘fracking’) invites new legal responses for fostering environmental protection and sustainability. Chief among these is environmental constitutionalism, in which a country or sub-national unit adopts explicit constitutional provisions that advance environmental outcomes, policies or procedures. This chapter examines how environmental constitutionalism might promote sustainable practices in unconventional shale gas development in the context of ten ‘good practices’, touching on text, implementation, adjudication and process, among other areas. It then contemplates how the recent court decision of Robinson Township et al. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania embodies these good practices in the context of controversial state action to promote unconventional shale gas development in the State of Pennsylvania in the United States. Section I provides a brief primer on unconventional shale gas development. Section II examines ten good practices in environmental constitutionalism, focusing on how these inform the sustainable development of unconventional shale gas. Section III then examines the extent to which Robinson Township embodies these good practices in context. We conclude that, fully realized, environmental constitutionalism can meaningfully contribute to sustainable practices in unconventional shale gas development.

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