The 2012 presidential contest featured a spirited debate between President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney over who is the true friend of shale gas. There was a widely held belief that Mr. Romney’s administration would have regulated the industry more loosely. But how far could a Romney EPA go in trying to slow the shift from coal-fired power plants to gas generators? And would a second-term Obama EPA use a climate change argument to tighten federal rules governing fracking?

Those questions, and others, were posed to industry insiders, including Harry Weiss, a partner at Ballard Spahr who is known for his work involving shale gas issues. Mr. Weiss is the author of a book about oil and gas law in Pennsylvania and was appointed by Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley to an advisory panel that will study natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale in Western Maryland. Before entering law school, Mr. Weiss was General Manager of Lakewood Oil Company, Inc., in Honesdale, Pennsylvania.

“The debate on regulating greenhouse gases is a particularly volatile one politically,” said Mr. Weiss. “The ability to regulate methane emissions under greenhouse gas rules may have to wait until we get around to regulating carbon dioxide. If the political will to do that is lacking, does methane jump to the top of the list? I don’t think so.”