Loh, Carolyn and Anna Osland. (2016). Local Land Use Planning Responses to Hydraulic Fracturing. Journal of the American Planning Association, 82 (3) 222-235.


Problem, research strategy, and findings: The practice of horizontal high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has become widespread in many areas of the United States, yet the regulatory landscape for local governments is highly variable and legally uncertain. We do not have a clear idea of what fracking-related policies local governments are adopting, nor how factors such as local government capacity influence policy adoption. We survey 140 local government officials in shale gas drilling areas in four states: Colorado, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania. We first identify the most common policies local governments use to address fracking and investigate the influence of different types of local capacity on adoption of policies to address fracking. We find that although most communities have not adopted many fracking regulations, higher-capacity communities and those who have experienced a fracking-related accident are more likely to adopt stricter regulations. Local officials are concerned that they lack capacity to address fracking. Our survey asks whether a respondent community did not adopt a policy for legal reasons or other reasons, but did not delve into what those other reasons for non-adoption might be. Our response rate for Louisiana was very low.

Takeaway for practice: Local governments appear to have at least some legal room to adopt fracking policy, yet most have not done so proactively. Investing in capacity building in the form of technical assistance or training for local officials would help communities decide how they wish to address fracking from a policy standpoint without waiting for the catalyst of a fracking-related industrial accident.

Osland, Anna. (2015). Building hazard resilience through collaboration: the role of technical partnerships in areas with hazardous liquid and natural gas transmission pipeline. Environment and Planning A, 47 (5) 1063-1080.


Although long-term planning can be improved by full stakeholder participation that generates consensus, there are some planning problems that lack interest from a large and diverse group of stakeholders. For these low-interest yet substantively important issues, such as hazard mitigation, technical collaboration has been suggested as a precursor to processes that involve full stakeholder participation. However, there has been only limited research evaluating the role of technical collaboration in practice. In this study I analyze how technical collaboration influences hazard mitigation capacity for communities at risk from hazardous liquid and natural gas transmission pipeline accidents. Semistructured interviews were conducted with forty-five emergency managers and planning directors located in the Greensboro-Winston-Salem, North Carolina (USA) metropolitan area whose communities had hazardous liquid and natural gas transmission pipelines. On the basis of these interview data, I classified technical collaborations into three categories: loose alliances, full partnerships, and hierarchically cooperative groups. Using this typology of technical collaboration, I found that the type of collaboration (1) influenced local knowledge about pipelines; (2) impacted how transmission pipeline hazards were addressed within a mitigation agenda; and (3) affected a community’s long-term capacity to mitigate pipeline hazards and build resilience against potential disasters. Leadership, access to resources, and continuity of the collaboration affected the function of technical collaborations. The research illustrated the inconsistencies in hazard resilience outcomes produced by the three types of technical collaboration. Collectively, the results illustrate how some planners and emergency managers can overcome deficits in knowledge about transmission pipeline hazards or about hazard mitigation planning tools in order to improve hazard resilience. Practitioners from jurisdictions of various sizes can use this research to facilitate their use of existing relationships to achieve hazard mitigation goals or to address critical issues that may have limited stakeholder support.

Osland, Anna. (2013). Using land-use planning tools to mitigate hazards: hazardous liquid and natural gas transmission pipelines. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 33(2) 141-159.

JPER blog on this paper.

Critical infrastructure such as hazardous liquid and natural gas transmission pipelines has received little attention by planning scholars even though local development management decisions have far-reaching consequences for homeland security, environmental damage, and human exposure. Using a survey of planning directors in North Carolina, the article identifies frequently used tools for mitigating pipeline hazards and examines factors associated with tool adoption. Despite the risks associated with pipeline rupture, most localities use few mitigation tools, and adoption of regulatory and informational tools appear associated with divergent factors. Whereas stakeholder participation, commitment, capacity, and community context were associated with total tool and information tool use, only stakeholder participation and capacity factors were associated with regulatory tool use.

Osland, Anna. (2010). Resolving land ownership issues for a community water project: A post-earthquake development dispute in rural El Salvador. Planning Theory and Practice, 11 (1) 47-63.

This article explores a development dispute, and subsequent negotiation process, over a community water system project, funded through post-earthquake international aid in rural El Salvador. The study centers on Las Trancas, a community recovering from devastating earthquakes in January and February of 2001, where a conflict over land ownership threatened the completion and long-term sustainability of the water system. This case illustrates the utility of dispute resolution techniques during post-disaster reconstruction, while highlighting the challenges that face those attempting to build local capacity after a disaster.

Osland, Anna. (2008). Book Review: Barrio Dreams: Puerto Ricans, Latinos, and the Neoliberal City. Urban Affairs Review, 43 (3) 432-435.