Hydraulic fracturing faces significant criticism for its water use but that attention is relatively undeserved when compared with the far greater consumption of other sectors. Even so, such criticism, combined with heightened water scarcity, ongoing industry action to reuse produced water, and environmental concerns regarding produced water disposal, creates an opportunity to pilot a regulatory system that incentivizes water conservation. The regulatory system should address a broad range of stakeholder concerns by incentivizing continuous technology development, establishing rules that are predictable and easy to enforce, and increasing water recycling in water scarce regions. This article considers multiple regulatory tools to create such a program and presents a proposal that leverages the relative strengths of these tools.



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