Fracking policy is a contentious issue that is increasingly being debated within state administrative agencies. Though scholars have revealed that stakeholders can be influential in federal rulemakings through framing, it is unclear whether groups at the state level are equally influential. This research employs a frame analysis approach to determine whether stakeholders use similar frames to those of federal groups, and whether they are comparably influential on regulatory outputs. I provide original interview data from a range of stakeholder groups and agency staff to unravel how stakeholders tried to influence the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission's (COGCC) Statewide Groundwater Baseline Sampling and Monitoring Rule. This research confirms that stakeholder groups use similar frames to their counterparts in federal contexts. However, whether stakeholder framing efforts influenced the agency, was in part a function of their access, resources, and relationships to agency personnel. In this case, industry groups appeared to have an advantage, but this may shift based on the preference of the governor and which groups are invited to debate policy with agency personnel. This article concludes with a discussion of how scholars might consider evaluating stakeholder influence going forward.

Notes

1.

The commission includes a representative of the executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, a representative of the executive Director of the Department of Natural Resources, a local government designee, a wildlife expert, a soil expert, an agricultural expert, and three private individuals with specific knowledge of oil and gas development (C.R.S. 34-60-104).

2.

See Appendix A for a listing of other subframes included within these and other frames.

3.

For my purposes here, I reviewed both the proposed and final rule, along with the draft and final Statement of Basis document. The latter document offers a discussion of the background, process, and reasoning for a given COGCC action.

4.

This method refers to the process of asking interviewees to identify other pertinent individuals who would have information regarding the rulemaking under discussion (Patton, 1990).

5.

For example, interviewees were often asked questions similar to these: Why was this rule on the agenda, were you involved during the stakeholder meetings process why or why not, what were your concerns with this rule, was the agency responsive to your concerns, why or why not, and do you believe your organization influenced the outcome of this rule, why or why not? Based on responses to these questions, follow up questions were asked relating to that stakeholder's concerns, how they conveyed them, and whether they believed other entities were influential on this rulemaking, and why.

6.

Lewicki et al. (2003) discuss the definitions of each of the frames and subframes in their work on pp. 25–32. For a brief description of each frame see Appendix A.

7.

Because these interviews were semi-structured, not all interview data was relevant to the research question here.

8.

In 2011, 90% of the industry agreed to implement the COGA program, which included taking two baseline ground water quality samples from within one half mile of a prospective well site and then sampling those wells again 1 -3 years after the completion of drilling (COGA, 2011).

9.

GWA refers to an oil and gas development zone with a long history of extraction north of Denver (Proctor, 2012).

10.

See Appendix A for a full listing of the coded data.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.

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