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Hydraulic fracturing subsidies literature review

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Contents

Project Abstract[edit]

Literature Review[edit]

Trashing the Planet for Natural Gas: Shale Gas Development Threatens Freshwater Sources, Likely Escalates Climate Destabilization [1][edit]

Abstract: In a stunning irony of capitalist greed, the new era of dirty fossil fuel extraction now threatens the water supply of the financial capital of the world. That's because most of the bottom third of New York State—including the New York City watershed west of the Hudson River—sits atop the Marcellus Shale, a vast expanse of sedimentary rock several thousand feet below the surface of the land extending into eight states.19 In 2008, the amount of natural gas in the Marcellus was estimated at as much as 516 trillion cubic feet,up from previous U.S. Geological Survey estimates in 2002 of just 1.3 trillion cubic feet.The new estimate has prompted some to dub the Marcellus ‘‘the Saudi Arabia of natural gas.

  • This paper is important because of the data shared such as 1,000 cases of contamination in Colorado, New Mexico, Alabama, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Giving example about residents being able to light their tap water on fire from methane seepage into their water supply is increasingly common in drilling areas.
  • In addition the paper focuses on policy. Specifically subsidy to Hydraulic Fracturing, the author mentioned that the US gov encourage gas drilling with more than $13.5 billion of subsidies, through Energy Policy Act.
  • Finally, the paper highlighted the international component in the US natural gas market.

Changes in the Fuel Mix Used to Produce Power in the U.S. [2][edit]

Abstract: Over the years, there have been significant changes in the fuel mix used to generate electricity in the United States. Generally, this mix has become less carbon-intensive, relying less on coal and more on natural gas and renewable sources. Nevertheless, concerns over the environment and a desire to promote the emergence of “clean energy” industries have led a number of people to advocate policy measures to induce, if not compel, power suppliers in the United States to alter their fuel mix away from fossil fuels and towards non-carbon sources. For example, many states have established Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPSs), which compel power suppliers to utilize minimum percentages of renewable fuels that usually rise over time. At the federal level, President Obama has proposed a ‘clean energy standard’ and Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico), Chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, recently introduced a RPS bill that would compel power suppliers everywhere in the country to meet that standard. In this paper, we examine what actually has been happening over time with respect to the power producing fuel mix in the United States. The purpose is to see whether such mix already is being shaped by market forces that are driving it towards lower carbon content. If so, question arises whether there is any need for policy measures such as RPSs or subsidies for non-carbon sources. Further, as mandates or subsidies have substantial costs, question arises whether these costs are justified. Our findings are that: The U.S. power generation fuel mix has been falling in carbon intensity for the past 50 years.

  • This trend towards a less carbon intensive fuel mix has accelerated in recent years as the price of natural gas has fallen relative to that of coal.
  • Federal projections of the power production fuel mix into the future suggest the trend will continue for many years.
  • Though virtually all forms of energy are subsidized by the government to some degree, renewable sources have received very large subsidies per unit of output in recent years, likely affecting power generation choices at the margin.
  • Subsidies and mandates impose substantial costs on taxpayers and on ratepayers. They also induce rent-seeking behavior by suppliers which impose deadweight costs on society and which breed cynicism about the U.S. system of government and its relation to economic activity. Given continuing market trends, no expansion of such mandates or subsidies is justified. Indeed, with the exception of basic research, a relaxation of mandates and a reduction in energy subsidies if not their complete disappearance would be the more desirable course of action.

The Constitutional Environmental Human Right to Water: An Economic Model of the Potential Negative Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Quantity and Quality in Pennsylvania [3][edit]

Abstract: The process of hydraulic fracturing (HF) for natural gas leads to two potential negative externalities: (1) a reduction in the quantity of existing drinking water, and (2) a reduction in the quality of existing drinking water. These two externalities can further conspire to lead to a broader problem: an inability to full the human right to (clean or pure) water. Although the United States (US) Constitution does not grant individuals a human right to clean water, the Constitution of Pennsylvania does within Section 27. While US reliance on natural gas and the prevalence of HF as a method for procuring natural gas both increase, the two externalities may lead to actual human rights violations, especially in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania. This paper develops an economic model of the two externalities to: (1) demonstrate how violations of both the quantity and quality of available drinking water can occur; and (2) offer a scale policy to address the violations (i.e., a Pigovian Tax) , where a single tax on natural gas production is capable of addressing both externalities. In keeping with the current case law interpretation of Section 27 of the Constitution of Pennsylvania, a due standard of care negligence rule within a unilateral-care accident model is developed and compared to the Pigovian Tax. Depending on the nature of the market demand and supply curves for natural gas, the results indicate that the incidence of the Pigovian Tax is not fully carried by the producers while the due standard of care rule is imposed entirely on the producers (i.e., injurers). In either case, the number of producers is an important consideration for fulfillment of the human right to water.

  • The paper is important because of the economic analysis included the author suggested that Hydraulic Fracturing imposes two negative externalities on society: (1) a reduction in the remaining quantity of available drinking water, and (2) a reduction in the quality of remaining drinking water.

Evaluating the Environmental Implications of Hydraulic Fracturing in Shale Gas Reservoirs [4][edit]

Abstract:Exploration, drilling and production of shale gas plays such as the Barnett, Fayetteville, and Haynesville have transformed the unconventional gas industry. These and other existing and developing plays have had unimaginable economic impacts to many regions, created tens of thousands of jobs, and have generated royalty payments to a variety of state and local governments as well as many individuals. At the core of shale gas development are two key technologies: horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Techniques used to hydraulically fracture horizontal wells completed in shale reservoirs often require larger volumes of fracturing fluid than might be common for conventional, vertical well stimulations. The rapid development of shale gas across the country has created concerns on issues such as the use of infrastructure and environmental impacts. Specifically, the common practice of hydraulic fracturing of these shales has attracted critical interest regarding risks potentially posed to groundwater and surface water. This paper will present a summary and evaluation of the environmental implications of hydraulic fracturing in shale gas reservoirs, with examples from multiple basins.

  • The paper gives very detailed engineering background in hydraulic fracturing process and the fracturing fluids additives.

The technical, geographical, and economic feasibility for solar energy to supply the energy needs of the US [5][edit]

Abstract: So far, solar energy has been viewed as only a minor contributor in the energy mixture of the US due to cost and intermittency constraints. However, recent drastic cost reductions in the production of photovoltaics (PV) pave the way for enabling this technology to become cost competitive with fossil fuel energy generation. We show that with the right incentives, cost competitiveness with grid prices in the US (e.g., 6–10 US¢/kWh) can be attained by 2020. The intermittency problem is solved by integrating PV with compressed air energy storage (CAES) and by extending the thermal storage capability in concentrated solar power (CSP). We used hourly load data for the entire US and 45-year solar irradiation data from the southwest region of the US, to simulate the CAES storage requirements, under worst weather conditions. Based on expected improvements of established, commercially available PV, CSP, and CAES technologies, we show that solar energy has the technical, geographical, and economic potential to supply 69% of the total electricity needs and 35% of the total (electricity and fuel) energy needs of the US by 2050. When we extend our scenario to 2100, solar energy supplies over 90%, and together with other renewables, 100% of the total US energy demand with a corresponding 92% reduction in energy-related carbon dioxide emissions compared to the 2005 levels.

  • The paper gives an economic assessment some historical data of CSP systems in the US.

Human health risk assessment of air emissions from development of unconventional natural gas resources [6][edit]

Abstract: Technological advances (e.g. directional drilling, hydraulic fracturing), have led to increases in unconventional natural gas development (NGD), raising questions about health impacts. We estimated health risks for exposures to air emissions from a NGD project in Garfield County, Colorado with the objective of supporting risk prevention recommendations in a health impact assessment (HIA). The methods. We used EPA guidance to estimate chronic and subchronic non-cancer hazard indices and cancer risks from exposure to hydrocarbons for two populations: (1) residents living >½ mile from wells and (2) residents living ≤½ mile from wells. Results,residents living ≤½ mile from wells are at greater risk for health effects from NGD than are residents living >½ mile from wells. Subchronic exposures to air pollutants during well completion activities present the greatest potential for health effects. The subchronic non-cancer hazard index (HI) of 5 for residents ≤½ mile from wells was driven primarily by exposure to trimethylbenzenes, xylenes, and aliphatic hydrocarbons. Chronic HIs were 1 and 0.4. for residents ≤½ mile from wells and >½ mile from wells, respectively. Cumulative cancer risks were 10 in a million and 6 in a million for residents living ≤½ mile and >½ mile from wells, respectively, with benzene as the major contributor to the risk.

  • This is a very recent study; I will use some of the data to provide a scientific perspective to the potential health risks associated with development of unconventional natural gas.

The Future of Natural Gas: An Interdisciplinary MIT Study [7][edit]

Abstract: The Future of Natural Gas is the fourth in a series of MIT multidisciplinary reports examining the role of various energy sources that may be important for meeting future demand under carbon dioxide emissions constraints. In each case, we explore the steps needed to enable competitiveness in a future marketplace conditioned by a CO2 emissions price. Often overlooked in past debates about the future of energy in the U.S., natural gas is finding its place at the heart of the energy discussion. Natural gas is a major fuel for multiple end uses — electricity, industry, heating — and is increasingly discussed as a potential pathway to reduced oil dependence for transportation. In addition, the realization over the last few years that the producible unconventional gas resource in the U.S. is very large has intensified the discussion about natural gas as a "bridge" to a low-carbon future.

  • Abundant global natural gas resources imply greatly expanded natural gas use with especially large growth in electricity generation.
  • Natural gas will assume an increasing share of the U.S. energy mix over the next several decades, with the large unconventional resource playing a key role.
  • A concerted coordinated effort by industry and government, both state and Federal should be organized so as to minimize the environmental impacts of shale gas development through both research and regulation. Transparency is key, both for fracturing operations and for water management. Better communication of oil- and gas-field best practices should be facilitated. Integrated regional water usage and disposal plans and disclosure of hydraulic fracture fluid components should be required.

What is the True Cost of Hydraulic Fracturing? Incorporating Negative Externalities into the Cost of America’s Latest Energy Alternative[8][edit]

Abstract: Decreased technological costs and increased efficiency of horizontal drilling has made obtaining natural gas from shale deposits through hydraulic fracturing a viable economic option. However, current estimates of per kWh costs to obtain natural gas through this method do not account for increased environmental risks. By incorporating damages from air and water pollution, the true cost of hydraulic fracturing can be assessed. Results indicate air pollution from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is higher for unconventional natural gas versus conventional natural gas. Without potential water pollution taken into account, the best estimate levelized cost of electricity for unconventional natural gas is $13.99/kWh, $1.87/kWh lower than that of conventional natural gas and $0.80/kWh higher than the best estimate for wind energy. Difference in cost between conventional and unconventional natural gas is largely due to funds spent procuring and protecting natural gas from other countries. The water pollution externality is estimated by comparing the total cost of replacing the water of all of the citizens in the water basin overlying the shale play to the total possible number of kWh energy that could be extracted from that shale for five shale plays. Replacement of water for 10 years results in an externality larger than the security cost for the Eagle Ford shale, and about half of the security cost for the Marcellus and Barnett shales. The water externality for the same period is smaller than the security externality for the Fayetteville and Green River shales. More studies are needed to determine the cause of the excess air pollution and to limit the range of water externalities.

  • The emission factor for volatile organic compounds from unconventional shale gas extraction is more than 145 times higher than that for conventional gas (0.30633 lb/MMBtu vs. 0.0021 lb/MMBtu). Associated best estimate externality costs vary from 0.0048 ¢/kWh. Levelized costs of unconventional natural gas without incorporating the water externality vary from 8.83 – 25.36 $/ kWh, while levelized costs of conventional natural gas vary from 11.16 – 29.84 $/ kWh
  • Water externalities vary between shale plays due to differences in the ratio between the possible amount of energy that could be extracted from the shale play and the number of people dependent upon connected water supplies. Costs for water replacement alone are substantially lower than costs due to water transport and greenhouse gas externalities from burning diesel.

The future of U.S. natural gas production, use, and trade [9][edit]

Abstract: Two computable general equilibrium models, one global and the other providing U.S. regional detail, are applied to analysis of the future of U.S. natural gas. The focus is on uncertainties including the scale and cost of gas resources, the costs of competing technologies, the pattern of greenhouse gas mitigation, and the evolution of global natural gas markets. Results show that the outlook for gas over the next several decades is very favorable. In electric generation, given the unproven and relatively high cost of other low-carbon generation alternatives, gas is likely the preferred alternative to coal. A broad GHG pricing policy would increase gas use in generation but reduce use in other sectors, on balance increasing its role from present levels. The shale gas resource is a major contributor to this optimistic view of the future of gas. Gas can be an effective bridge to a lower emissions future, but investment in the development of still lower CO2 technologies remains an important priority. International gas resources may well prove to be less costly than those in the U.S., except for the lowest-cost domestic shale resources, and the emergence of an integrated global gas market could result in significant U.S. gas imports.

  • The paper concluded that an exploitation of shale resources will require some expansion in the long-distance pipeline network, primarily to accommodate shipment of gas out of the South Central region to areas other than the North East, though the imposition of emissions mitigation reduces the need such changes in this system.
  • Also, gas competes most strongly in the electric power sector, especially under Climate Policy, because it has much lower CO2 emissions than coal. Thus in the electric generation sector natural gas is a bridge fuel under Climate Policy, providing a cleaner alternative to coal. With continued tightening of CO2 constraints beyond 2050, however, the CO2 emissions from unconventional gas generation eventually will require an investment in the development of lowe CO2 technologies.

Regulating hydraulic fracturing in shale gas plays: The case of Texas [10][edit]

Abstract: The ability to economically produce natural gas from unconventional shale gas reservoirs has been made possible recently through the application of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. This new technique has radically changed the energy future of the United States. The U.S. has shifted from a waning producer of natural gas to a growing producer. The Energy Information Administration forecasts that by 2035 nearly half of U.S. natural gas will come from shale gas. Texas is a major player in these developments. Of the eight states and coastal areas that account for the bulk of U.S. gas, Texas has the largest proved reserves. Texas' Barnett Shale already produces six percent of the continental U.S.' gas and exploration of Texas' other shale gas regions is just beginning. Shale gas production is highly controversial, in part because of environmental concerns. Some U.S. states have put hydraulic fracturing moratoriums in place because of fear of drinking water contamination. The federal government has gotten involved and some states, like Texas, have accused it of overreaching. The contention over shale gas drilling in the U.S. may be a bellwether for other parts of the world that are now moving forward with their own shale gas production.

  • The paper covers the environmental impacts associated with Hydraulic Fracturing & policy related: such as
  • Toxic Chemicals and Radioactive Materials
  • Sources of Water Contamination
  • Sources of Air Contamination

Improved Attribution of Climate Forcing to Emissions [11][edit]

Abstract: Evaluating multicomponent climate change mitigation strategies requires knowledge of the diverse direct and indirect effects of emissions. Methane, ozone, and aerosols are linked through atmospheric chemistry so that emissions of a single pollutant can affect several species. We calculated atmospheric composition changes, historical radiative forcing, and forcing per unit of emission due to aerosol and tropospheric ozone precursor emissions in a coupled composition-climate model. We found that gas-aerosol interactions substantially alter the relative importance of the various emissions. In particular, methane emissions have a larger impact than that used in current carbon-trading schemes or in the Kyoto Protocol. Thus, assessments of multigas mitigation policies, as well as any separate efforts to mitigate warming from short-lived pollutants, should include gas-aerosol interactions.

Willingness to pay for electricity sourced from natural gas extracted using hydraulic fracturing : location and preference heterogeneity [12][edit]

Abstract:This study uses a choice experiment to measure the welfare impacts of electricity generated by natural gas from hydraulic fracturing. Our model estimates how proximity and location to drill sites and the Marcellus Shale impact willingness to pay. Our results from an Internet survey of New York State residents indicate that residents exhibit, on average, a negative willingness to pay for that electricity source. In addition, all subsamples of residents incur disutility on average, but those who live in counties within the Marcellus Shale have the greatest disutility. New York State residents’ mean WTP ranged from a decrease in their monthly electric bill of $22 to $48 depending on proximity and whether they resided in a county within the Marcellus Shale Play. For comparison, the average electric bill was $124, so the negative impacts of hydraulic fracturing are perceived to be substantial by New York State residents.

Addressing the Environmental Risks from Shale Gas Development [13][edit]

Abstract:This briefing paper, part of an on-going series on the role of natural gas in the future energy economy, provides an overview of how horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are used to extract shale gas, examines the environmental risks, associated with shale gas development, and provides an overview of the industry best practices and government regulations that are needed if shale gas is to contribute its full potential to help build a low-carbon economy in the years ahead.

Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing [14][edit]

Abstract:Directional drilling and hydraulic-fracturing technologies are dramatically increasing natural-gas extraction. In aquifers overlying the Marcellus and Utica shale formations of northeastern Pennsylvania and upstate New York, we document systematic evidence for methane contamination of drinking water associated with shale-gas extraction. In active gas-extraction areas (one or more gas wells within 1 km), average and maximum methane concentrations in drinking-water wells increased with proximity to the nearest gas well and were 19.2 and 64 mg CH4 L-1 (n = 26), a potential explosion hazard; in contrast, dissolved methane samples in neighboring nonextraction sites (no gas wells within 1 km) within similar geologic formations and hydrogeologic regimes averaged only 1.1 mg L-1 (P < 0.05; n = 34). Average δ13C-CH4 values of dissolved methane in shallow groundwater were significantly less negative for active than for nonactive sites (-37 ± 7‰ and -54 ± 11‰, respectively; P < 0.0001). These δ13C-CH4 data, coupled with the ratios of methane-to-higher-chain hydrocarbons, and δ2H-CH4 values, are consistent with deeper thermogenic methane sources such as the Marcellus and Utica shales at the active sites and matched gas geochemistry from gas wells nearby. In contrast, lower-concentration samples from shallow groundwater at nonactive sites had isotopic signatures reflecting a more biogenic or mixed biogenic/thermogenic methane source. We found no evidence for contamination of drinking-water samples with deep saline brines or fracturing fluids. We conclude that greater stewardship, data, and—possibly—regulation are needed to ensure the sustainable future of shale-gas extraction and to improve public confidence in its use.

Natural Gas Plays in the Marcellus Shale: Challenges and Potential Opportunities[15][edit]

Abstract:This article is focused on the Marcellus Shale because it is the most expansive shale gas in play in the U.S. The Marcellus Shale, which is Devonian age (416−359.2 My), belongs to a group of black, organic-rich shales that are common constituents of sedimentary deposits. In shale deposition, the clay-sized grains tend to lie flat as the sediments accumulate. Pressurized compaction results in flat sheet-like deposits with thin laminar bedding that lithifies into thinly layered shale rock. Natural gas is formed as the organic materials in these deposits degrade anaerobically. The Marcellus Shale gas is mostly thermogenic, with enough heat and pressure to produce primarily dry natural gas. Covering an area of 240,000 km2 (95,000 mi2), it underlies a large portion of Pennsylvania, east of West Virginia, and parts of New York, Ohio, and Maryland (Figure 1). Recent production data suggest that recoverable reserves from Marcellus Shale could be as large as 489 Tcf

Stabilization Wedges: Solving the Climate Problem for the Next 50 Years with Current Technologies [16][edit]

Abstract:Humanity already possesses the fundamental scientific, technical, and industrial know-how to solve the carbon and climate problem for the next half-century. A portfolio of technologies now exists to meet the world's energy needs over the next 50 years and limit atmospheric CO2 to a trajectory that avoids a doubling of the preindustrial concentration. Every element in this portfolio has passed beyond the laboratory bench and demonstration project; many are already implemented somewhere at full industrial scale. Although no element is a credible candidate for doing the entire job (or even half the job) by itself, the portfolio as a whole is large enough that not every element has to be used.

Decarbonization of the U.S. electricity sector: Are state energy policy portfolios the solution? [17][edit]

Abstract: State governments have taken the lead on U.S. energy and climate policy. It is not yet clear, however, whether state energy policy portfolios can generate results in a similar magnitude or manner to their presumed carbon mitigation potential. This article seeks to address this lack of policy evidence and contribute empirical insights on the carbon mitigation effects of state energy portfolios within the U.S. electricity sector. Using a dynamic, long-term electricity dispatch model with U.S. power plant, utility, and transmission and distribution data between 2010 and 2030, this analysis builds a series of state-level policy portfolio scenarios and performs a comparative scenario analysis. Results reveal that state policy portfolios have modest to minimal carbon mitigation effects in the long run if surrounding states do not adopt similar portfolios as well. The difference in decarbonization potential between isolated state policies and larger, more coordinated policy efforts is due in large part to carbon leakage, which is the export of carbon intensive fossil fuel-based electricity across state lines. Results also confirm that a carbon price of $50/metric ton CO2e can generate substantial carbon savings. Although both policy options – an energy policy portfolio or a carbon price – are effective at reducing carbon emissions in the present analysis, neither is as effective alone as when the two strategies are combined.

Strategies for cost-effective carbon reductions: a sensitivity analysis of alternative scenarios [18][edit]

Abstract: Analyses of alternative futures often present results for a limited set of scenarios, with little, if any, sensitivity analysis to identify the factors affecting the scenario results. This approach creates an artificial impression of certainty associated with the scenarios considered, and inhibits understanding of the underlying forces. This paper summarizes the economic and carbon savings sensitivity analysis completed for the Scenarios for a Clean Energy Future study (Interlaboratory Working Group, 2000). Its 19 sensitivity cases provide insight into the costs and carbon-reduction impacts of a carbon permit trading system, demand-side efficiency programs, and supply-side policies. Impacts under different natural gas and oil price trajectories are also examined. The results provide compelling evidence that policy opportunities exist in the United States to reduce carbon emissions and save society money.

State Clean Energy Practices: Renewables Portfolio Standard [19][edit]

Abstract: The State Clean Energy Policies Analysis (SCEPA) project is supported by the Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program within the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. This project seeks to quantify the impacts of existing state policies, and to identify crucial policy attributes and their potential applicability to other states. The goal is to assist states in determining which clean energy policies or policy portfolios will best accomplish their environmental, economic, and security goals. Experts from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Interenergy Solutions are implementing this work, with state officials and policy experts providing extensive input and review. This report focuses on renewable portfolio standard (RPS) policies, which are being analyzed as part of this project.

Successful renewable energy development in a competitive electricity market: A Texas case study [20][edit]

Abstract: The development of renewable energy in markets with competition at wholesale and retail levels poses challenges not present in areas served by vertically-integrated utilities. The intermittent nature of some renewable energy resources impact reliability, operations, and market prices, in turn affecting all market participants. Meeting renewable energy goals may require coordination among many market players. These challenges may be successfully overcome by imposing goals, establishing trading mechanisms, and implementing operational changes in competitive markets. This strategy has contributed to Texas’ leadership among all US states in non-hydro renewable energy production. While Texas has been largely successful in accommodating over 9000 MW of wind power capacity, this extensive reliance upon wind power has also created numerous problems. Higher levels of operating reserves must now be procured. Market prices often go negative in the proximity of wind farms. Inaccurate wind forecasts have led to reliability problems. Five billion dollars in transmission investment will be necessary to facilitate further wind farm projects. Despite these costs, wind power is generally viewed as a net benefit.

Why we need more development on government lands and offshore [21][edit]

Abstract:Oil and natural gas from federal lands and waters is critical to meeting the nation's energy needs, providing approximately 30 percent of all oil and 38 percent of all natural gas produced in the United States. In terms of future production potential:

  • Federal lands hold an estimated 650.9 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas, enough to meet the natural gas heating needs of 60 million households for 160 years (approximately 60 million households in the United States are heated by natural gas).
  • Federal lands also hold an estimated 116.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil, enough to produce gasoline for 65 million cars and fuel oil for 3.2 million households for 60 years.
  • Greater access to these areas is needed because that's where the remaining oil and natural gas accumulations are likely to be located – particularly the larger ones. Although much of our nation's natural gas production is from private lands, this is not enough to meet our growing energy demand – particularly natural gas for electric power generation.

New proposal on fracking gives ground to industry.[22][edit]

Abstract: Obama administration issued a proposed rule governing hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas on public lands that will for the first time require disclosure of the chemicals used in the process. But in a significant concession to the oil industry, companies will have to reveal the composition of fluids only after they have completed drilling — a sharp change from the government’s original proposal, which would have required disclosure of the chemicals 30 days before a well could be started. The pullback on the rule followed a series of meetings at the White House after the original regulation was proposed in February. Lobbyists representing oil industry trade associations and individual major producers like ExxonMobil, XTO Energy, Apache, Samson Resources and Anadarko Petroleum met with officials of the Office of Management and Budget, who reworked the rule to address industry concerns about overlapping state regulations and the cost of compliance.

A review of shale gas regulations by state. [23][edit]

Abstract: CEEP created maps as part of a larger initiative that seeks to identify the priority risks associated with shale gas development and will recommend how government and industry can reduce those risks. Funded by a $1.2 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the project is poised to offer the first independent, broad assessment of expert opinion of risks and public willingness to pay to reduce such risks. In a few weeks, CEEP will also offer the first statistically based analysis of surface water impacts in the Pennsylvania portion of the Marcellus play.

Methane and the greenhouse-gas footprint of natural gas from shale formations. [24][edit]

Abstract: We evaluate the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas obtained by high-volume hydraulic fracturing from shale formations, focusing on methane emissions. Natural gas is composed largely of methane, and 3.6% to 7.9% of the methane from shale-gas production escapes to the atmosphere in venting and leaks over the life-time of a well. These methane emissions are at least 30% more than and perhaps more than twice as great as those from conventional gas. The higher emissions from shale gas occur at the time wells are hydraulically fractured—as methane escapes from flow-back return fluids—and during drill out following the fracturing. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, with a global warming potential that is far greater than that of carbon dioxide, particularly over the time horizon of the first few decades following emission. Methane contributes substantially to the greenhouse gas footprint of shale gas on shorter time scales, dominating it on a 20-year time horizon. The footprint for shale gas is greater than that for conventional gas or oil when viewed on any time horizon, but particularly so over 20 years. Compared to coal, the footprint of shale gas is at least 20% greater and perhaps more than twice as great on the 20-year horizon and is comparable when compared over 100 years.

A commentary on “The greenhouse-gas footprint of natural gas in shale formations” [25][edit]

Abstract: Natural gas is widely considered to be an environmentally cleaner fuel than coal because it does not produce detrimental by-products such as sulfur, mercury, ash and particulates and because it provides twice the energy per unit of weight with half the carbon footprint during combustion. These points are not in dispute. However, in their recent publication in Climatic Change Letters, Howarth et al. (2011) report that their life-cycle evaluation of shale gas drilling suggests that shale gas has a larger GHG footprint than coal and that this larger footprint “undercuts the logic of its use as a bridging fuel over the coming decades”. We argue here that their analysis is seriously flawed in that they significantly overestimate the fugitive emissions associated with unconventional gas extraction, undervalue the contribution of “green technologies” to reducing those emissions to a level approaching that of conventional gas, base their comparison between gas and coal on heat rather than electricity generation (almost the sole use of coal), and assume a time interval over which to compute the relative climate impact of gas compared to coal that does not capture the contrast between the long residence time of CO2 and the short residence time of methane in the atmosphere. High leakage rates, a short methane GWP, and comparison in terms of heat content are the inappropriate bases upon which Howarth et al. ground their claim that gas could be twice as bad as coal in its greenhouse impact. Using more reasonable leakage rates and bases of comparison, shale gas has a GHG footprint that is half and perhaps a third that of coal.

The costs of fracking; the price tag of dirty drilling’s environmental damage. [26][edit]

Abstract: Over the past decade, the oil and gas industry has fused two technologies— hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling—to unlock new supplies of fossil fuels in underground rock formations across the United States. “Fracking” has spread rapidly, leaving a trail of contaminated water, polluted air, and marred landscapes in its wake. In fact, a growing body of data indicates that fracking is an environmental and public health disaster in the making. However, the true toll of fracking does not end there. Fracking’s negative impacts on our environment and health come with heavy “dollars and cents” costs as well. In this report, we document those costs—ranging from cleaning up contaminated water to repairing ruined roads and beyond. Many of these costs are likely to be borne by the public, rather than the oil and gas industry. As with the damage done by previous extractive booms, the public may experience these costs for decades to come.

Water Use for Shale-Gas Production in Texas [27][edit]

Abstract: Shale-gas production using hydraulic fracturing of mostly horizontal wells has led to considerable controversy over water-resource and environmental impacts. The study objective was to quantify net water use for shale-gas production using data from Texas, which is the dominant producer of shale gas in the U.S. with a focus on three major plays: the Barnett Shale (15 000 wells, mid-2011), Texas-Haynesville Shale (390 wells), and Eagle Ford Shale (1040 wells). Past water use was estimated from well-completion data, and future water use was extrapolated from past water use constrained by shale-gas resources. Cumulative water use in the Barnett totaled 145 Mm3 (2000–mid-2011). Annual water use represents 9% of water use in Dallas (population 1.3 million). Water use in younger (2008–mid-2011) plays, although less (6.5 Mm3 Texas-Haynesville, 18 Mm3 Eagle Ford), is increasing rapidly. Water use for shale gas is <1% of statewide water withdrawals; however, local impacts vary with water availability and competing demands. Projections of cumulative net water use during the next 50 years in all shale plays total 4350 Mm3, peaking at 145 Mm3 in the mid-2020s and decreasing to 23 Mm3 in 2060. Current freshwater use may shift to brackish water to reduce competition with other users.

Tale of Two Technologies: Hydraulic Fracturing and Geologic Carbon Sequestration [28][edit]

Abstract: Two technologies, hydraulic fracturing and geologic carbon sequestration, may fundamentally change the United States’ ability to use domestic energy sources while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Shale gas production, made possible by hydraulic fracturing and advances in directional drilling, unlocks large reserves of natural gas, a lower carbon alternative to coal or other fossil fuels. Geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2) could enable use of vast domestic coal reserves without the attendant greenhouse gas emissions. Both hydraulic fracturing and geologic sequestration are 21st Century technologies with promise to transform energy, climate, and subsurface landscapes, and for both, effective risk management will be crucial. Potential environmental impacts, particularly to groundwater, are key concerns for both activities, because both inject large volumes of fluids into the subsurface. Unless environmental issues and public concerns are actively addressed, public opposition could stall deployment of these two important technologies.

Research and Policy Recommendations for Hydraulic Fracturing and Shale‐Gas Extraction [29][edit]

Abstract: The extraction of natural gas from shale formations is one of the fastest growing trends in American on‐shore domestic oil and gas production. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that the United States has 2,119 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas, about 60% of which is “unconventional gas” stored in low permeability formations such as shale, coalbeds, and tight sands. Large‐scale production of shale gas has become economically viable in the last decade attributable to advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (also called “hydrofracturing” or “fracking”). Such advances have significantly improved the production of natural gas in numerous basins across the United States, including the Barnett, Haynesville, Fayetteville, Woodford, Utica, and Marcellus shale formations (Figure 1). In 2009, 63 billion cubic meters of gas was produced from deep shale formations. In 2010, shale gas production doubled to 137.8 billion cubic meters,5 and the EIA projects that by 2035 shale gas production will increase to 340 billion cubic meters per year, amounting to 47% of the projected gas production in the United States.

Natural Gas Fracking Addresses All of Our Major Problems [30][edit]

Abstract: Politicians and regulators all over the world are debating the merits and demerits of horizontal drilling and fracturing of shale formations to produce natural gas (fracking) and the many legal issues that are raised by fracking. Professor Pierce provides context for those debates by describing the economic, environmental, and geopolitical advantages of fracking.

The greenhouse impact of unconventional gas for electricity generation [31][edit]

Abstract: New techniques to extract natural gas from unconventional resources have become economically competitive over the past several years, leading to a rapid and largely unanticipated expansion in natural gas production. The US Energy Information Administration projects that unconventional gas will supply nearly half of US gas production by 2035. In addition, by significantly expanding and diversifying the gas supply internationally, the exploitation of new unconventional gas resources has the potential to reshape energy policy at national and international levels—altering geopolitics and energy security, recasting the economics of energy technology investment decisions, and shifting trends in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In anticipation of this expansion, one of the perceived core advantages of unconventional gas—its relatively moderate GHG impact compared to coal—has recently come under scrutiny. In this paper, we compare the GHG footprints of conventional natural gas, unconventional natural gas (i.e. shale gas that has been produced using the process of hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking'), and coal in a transparent and consistent way, focusing primarily on the electricity generation sector. We show that for electricity generation the GHG impacts of shale gas are 11% higher than those of conventional gas, and only 56% that of coal for standard assumptions.

Attribution of climate forcing to economic sectors [32][edit]

Abstract: A much-cited bar chart provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change displays the climate impact, as expressed by radiative forcing in watts per meter squared, of individual chemical species. The organization of the chart reflects the history of atmospheric chemistry, in which investigators typically focused on a single species of interest. However, changes in pollutant emissions and concentrations are a symptom, not a cause, of the primary driver of anthropogenic climate change: human activity. In this paper, we suggest organizing the bar chart according to drivers of change—that is, by economic sector. Climate impacts of tropospheric ozone, fine aerosols, aerosol-cloud interactions, methane, and long-lived greenhouse gases are considered. We quantify the future evolution of the total radiative forcing due to perpetual constant year 2000 emissions by sector, most relevant for the development of climate policy now, and focus on two specific time points, near-term at 2020 and long-term at 2100. Because sector profiles differ greatly, this approach fosters the development of smart climate policy and is useful to identify effective opportunities for rapid mitigation of anthropogenic radiative forcing.

GRASPING OPPORTUNITY: WHY IT IS IMPORTANT AND WHAT SHOULD BE DONE [33][edit]

Abstract: The size of the energy infrastructure and the scale of investment needed to shift the composition of energy supply or the nature of energy demand leads us to anticipate slow, if not imperceptible, change in energy markets. However, from time to time there can be a development—a shift in policy or expectations—that has a significant effect on energy trends. We are here at the North American Resources Summit to discuss such a development today1: the unexpected massive increase in the estimate of economically recoverable natural gas, and to a lesser extent oil, especially from shale deposits in North America, and by implication, from other shale bearing regions elsewhere in the world. This morning I wish to make three points to frame the discussion. First, the potential positive impacts of this increase are enormous but as yet not fully appreciated by the public, business, and the nation’s political leadership. Second, we should be cautious in assuming that the appearance of such an opportunity will necessarily lead to a favorable outcome. There are significant environmental challenges to the successful and responsible widespread shale gas deployment. Absent serious action to reduce the environmental impact, not just talk about the need for such action, we run the risk of losing the public’s confidence in this technology and delaying or prohibiting its growth. Third, the U.S. government should adjust its policies, and industry should adjust its practices, to maximize the benefits of this welcome new energy opportunity. Unfortunately, my impression is that neither government nor business is doing what needs to be done, and therefore we are implicitly assuming that past practices are adequate to deal with this entirely new opportunity.

Impacts of Gas Drilling on Human and Animal Health [34][edit]

Abstract: Environmental concerns surrounding drilling for gas are intense due to expansion of shale gas drilling operations. Controversy surrounding the impact of drilling on air and water quality has pitted industry and lease - holders against individuals and groups concerned with environmental protection and public health. Because animals often are exposed continually to air, soil, and groundwater and have more frequent reproductive cycles,animals can be used as sentinels to monitor impacts to human health. This study involved interviews with animal owners who live near gas drilling operations. The findings illustrate which aspects of the drilling process may lead to health problems and suggest modifications that would lessen but not eliminate impacts. Complete evidence regarding health impacts of gas drilling cannot be obtained due to incomplete testing and disclosure of chemicals, and nondisclosure agreements. Without rigorous scientific studies, the gas drilling boom sweeping the world will remain an uncontrolled health experiment on an enormous scale.

Natural Gas Operations from a Public Health Perspective [35][edit]

Abstract: The technology to recover natural gas depends on undisclosed types and amounts of toxic chemicals. A list of 944 products containing 632 chemicals used during nat­ural gas operations was compiled. Literature searches were conducted to determine potential health effects of the 353 chemicals identified by Chemical Abstract Ser­ vice (CAS) numbers. More than 75% of the chemicals could affect the skin, eyes, and other sensory organs, and the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems. Approx­imately 40--50% could affect the brain/nervous system, immune and cardiovascular systems, and the kidneys; 37% could affect the endocrine system; and 25% could cause cancer and mutations. These results indicate that many chemicals used dur­ing the fracturing and drilling stages of gas operations may have long-term health effects that are not immediately expressed. In addition, an example was provided of waste evaporation pit residuals that contained numerous chemicals on the Com­prehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) lists of haz­ardous substances. The discussion highlights the difficulty of developing effective water quality monitoring programs. To protect public health we recommend full disclosure of the contents of all products, extensive air and water monitoring, coor­dinated environmental/human health studies, and regulation of fracturing under the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act.

Venting and leaking of methane from shale gas development: response to Cathles et al. [36][edit]

Abstract: In April 2011, we published the first comprehensive analysis of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from shale gas obtained by hydraulic fracturing, with a focus on methane emissions. Our analysis was challenged by Cathles et al. (2012). Here, we respond to those criticisms. We stand by our approach and findings. The latest EPA estimate for methane emissions from shale gas falls within the range of our estimates but not those of Cathles et al. which are substantially lower. Cathles et al. believe the focus should be just on electricity generation, and the global warming potential of methane should be considered only on a 100-year time scale. Our analysis covered both electricity (30% of US usage) and heat generation (the largest usage), and we evaluated both 20- and 100-year integrated time frames for methane. Both time frames are important, but the decadal scale is critical, given the urgent need to avoid climate-system tipping points. Using all available information and the latest climate science, we conclude that for most uses, the GHG footprint of shale gas is greater than that of other fossil fuels on time scales of up to 100 years. When used to generate electricity, the shale-gas footprint is still significantly greater than that of coal at decadal time scales but is less at the century scale. We reiterate our conclusion from our April 2011 paper that shale gas is not a suitable bridge fuel for the 21st Century.

Emissions from Natural Gas Production in the Barnett Shale Area and Opportunities for Cost-Effective Improvements [37][edit]

Abstract: Natural gas production in the Barnett Shale region of Texas has increased rapidly since 1999, and as of June 2008, over 7700 oil and gas wells had been installed and another 4700 wells were pending. Gas production in 2007 was approximately 923 Bcf from wells in 21 counties. Natural gas is a critical feedstock to many chemical production processes, and it has many environmental benefits over coal as a fuel for electricity generation, including lower emissions of sulfur, metal compounds, and carbon dioxide. Nevertheless, oil and gas production from the Barnett Shale area can impact local air quality and release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The objectives of this study were to develop an emissions inventory of air pollutants from oil and gas production in the Barnett Shale area, and to identify costeffective emissions control options. Emission sources from the oil and gas sector in the Barnett Shale area were divided into point sources, which included compressor engine exhausts and oil/condensate tanks, as well as fugitive and intermittent sources, which included production equipment fugitives, well drilling and fracing engines, well completions, gas processing, and transmission fugitives. The air pollutants considered in this inventory were smog-forming compounds (NOx and VOC), greenhouse gases, and air toxic chemicals.

The potential near-source ozone impacts of upstream oil and gas industry emissions [38][edit]

Abstract: Increased drilling in urban areas overlying shale formations and its potential impact on human health through decreased air quality make it important to estimate the contribution of oil and gas activities to photochemical smog. Flares and compressor engines used in natural gas operations, for example, are large sources not only of NOx but also of formaldehyde, a hazardous air pollutant and powerful ozone precursor. We used a neighborhood scale (200 m horizontal resolution) three-dimensional (3D) air dispersion model with an appropriate chemical mechanism to simulate ozone formation in the vicinity of a hypothetical natural gas processing facility, based on accepted estimates of both regular and nonroutine emissions. The model predicts that, under average midday conditions in June, regular emissions mostly associated with compressor engines may increase ambient ozone in the Barnett Shale by more than 3 ppb beginning at about 2 km downwind of the facility, assuming there are no other major sources of ozone precursors. Flare volumes of 100,000 cubic meters per hour of natural gas over a period of 2 hr can also add over 3 ppb to peak 1-hr ozone somewhat further (>8 km) downwind, once dilution overcomes ozone titration and inhibition by large flare emissions of NOx. The additional peak ozone from the hypothetical flare can briefly exceed 10 ppb about 16 km downwind. The enhancements of ambient ozone predicted by the model are significant, given that ozone control strategy widths are of the order of a few parts per billion. Degrading the horizontal resolution of the model to 1 km spuriously enhances the simulated ozone increases by reducing the effectiveness of ozone inhibition and titration due to artificial plume dilution.

Energy supplies and future engines for land, sea, and air [39][edit]

Abstract: The years 2012 and beyond seem likely to record major changes in energy use and power generation. The Japanese tsunami has resulted in large countries either scaling back or abolishing the future use of nuclear energy. The discovery of what seems like vast amounts of economically deliverable natural gas has many forecasting a rapid switch from coal- to gas-fired generating plants. On the other hand, environmentalists have strong objections to the production of natural gas and of petroleum by hydraulic fracturing from shale, or by extraction of heavy oil. They believe that global warming from the use of fossil fuels is now established beyond question. There has been rapid progress in the development of alternative energy supplies, particularly from on-shore and off-shore wind. Progress toward a viable future energy mix has been slowed by a U.S. energy policy that seems to many to be driven by politics. The author will review the history of power and energy to put all of the above in context and will look at possible future developments. He will propose what he believes to be an idealized energy policy that could result in an optimum system that would be arrived at democratically.

Shale Gas vs. Coal [40][edit]

Abstract: The aim of this paper is to examine the environmental impacts of shale gas, conventional gas and coal on air, water, and land in the United States. These factors decisively affect the quality of life (public health and safety) as well as local and global environmental protection. Comparing various lifecycle assessments, this paper will suggest that a shift from coal to shale gas would benefit public health, the safety of workers, local environmental protection, water consumption, and the land surface. Most likely, shale gas also comes with a smaller GHG footprint than coal. However, shale gas extraction can affect water safety. This paper also discusses related aspects that exemplify how shale gas can be more beneficial in the short and long term. First, there are technical solutions readily available to fix the most crucial problems of shale gas extraction, such as methane leakages and other geo-hazards. Second, shale gas is best equipped to smoothen the transition to an age of renewable energy. Finally, this paper will recommend tighter regulations.

Developing America’s Unconventional Gas Resources Benefits and Challenges [41][edit]

Abstract: Access, higher prices, and advances in technology have made it possible to commercially develop unconventional gas resources. The magnitude and potential impact of this resource has attracted a great deal of public- and private-sector interest, as well as increasing scrutiny. The ability to produce increasing volumes from the United States’ vast shale reserves has the potential to reduce U.S. import reliance, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, increase global gas supplies, and potentially alter the way gas is marketed globally, thereby conferring substantial economic, security, and environmental benefits for both the United States and the world at large. However, failure to manage some of the attendant impacts surrounding the development of this resource at scale could seriously hamper efforts to fully realize those benefits. Such impacts include water concerns (primarily focused on prevention of groundwater contamination, water use at scale, and the treatment, recycling, and disposal of produced water volumes); issues surrounding the public disclosure of the composition of fracking fluids; the “industrialization” of rural areas during development, evidenced by increased congestion, road construction, noise, haze, fugitive emissions, and infrastructure development; and local issues related to widely differing lease arrangements, population density, property values, tax revenue streams, and land use. This paper seeks to put the strategic value of this resource in context, outline the potential benefits and challenges to its development, and suggest strategies and actions for charting a responsible path forward.

Estimating U.S. Government Subsidies to Energy Sources: 2002-2008 [42][edit]

Abstract: The current energy and climate debate would benefit from a broader understanding of the explicit and hidden government subsidies that affect energy use throughout the economy. In an effort to examine this issue, the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) conducted a review of fossil fuel and renewable energy subsidies for Fiscal Years 2002-2008. This paper and Appendix describe the approach used to identify and quantify the subsidies presented in the accompanying graphic. ELI researchers used a standardized methodology to calculate government expenditures. Where this methodology was lacking or did not apply, ELI researchers calculated subsidy values on a case-bycase basis.

  • The vast majority of federal subsidies for fossil fuels and renewable energy supported energy sources that emit high levels of greenhouse gases when used as fuel.
  • The federal government provided substantially larger subsidies to fossil fuels than to renewables. Subsidies to fossil fuels—a mature, developed industry that has enjoyed government support for many years—totaled approximately $72 billion over the study period, representing a direct cost to taxpayers.
  • Subsidies for renewable fuels, a relatively young and developing industry, totaled $29 billion over the same period.

Environmental Accounting for Pollution in the United States Economy[43][edit]

Abstract: This study presents a framework to include environmental externalities into a system of national accounts. The paper estimates the air pollution damages for each industry in the United States. An integrated- assessment model quantifies the marginal damages of air pollution emissions for the US which are multiplied times the quantity of emissions by industry to compute gross damages. Solid waste combustion, sewage treatment, stone quarrying, marinas, and oil and coal-fired power plants have air pollution damages larger than their value added. The largest industrial contributor to external costs is coal-fired electric generation, whose damages range from 0.8 to 5.6 times value added.

Solar power generation in the US: Too expensive, or a bargain? [44][edit]

Abstract: This article identifies the combined value that solar electric power plants deliver to utilities' rate payers and society's tax payers. Benefits that are relevant to utilities and their rate payers include traditional, measures of energy and capacity. Benefits that are tangible to tax payers include environmental, fuel price mitigation, outage risk protection, and long-term economic growth components. Results for the state of New York suggest that solar electric installations deliver between 15 and 40 ¢/kWh to ratepayers and tax payers. These results provide economic justification for the existence of payment structures (often referred to as incentives) that transfer value from those who benefit from solar electric generation to those who invest in solar electric generation.

Hydraulic Fracturing 101: What Every Representative, Environmentalist, Regulator, Reporter, Investor, University Researcher, Neighbor and Engineer Should Know About Estimating Frac Risk and Improving Frac Performance in Unconventional Gas and Oil Wells.[45][edit]

Abstract:Identification of risk, the potential for occurrence of an event and impact of that event, is the first step in improving a process by ranking risk elements and controlling potential harm from occurrence of a detrimental event. Hydraulic Fracturing has become a hot environmental discussion topic and a target of media articles and University studies during development of gas shales near populated areas. The furor over fracturing and frac waste disposal was largely driven by lack of chemical disclosure and the pre-2008 laws of some states. The spectacular increase in North American natural gas reserves created by shale gas development makes shale gas a disruptive technology, threatening profitability and continued development of other energy sources. Introduction of such a disruptive force as shale gas will invariably draw resistance, both monetary and political, to attack the disruptive source, or its enabler; hydraulic fracturing. Some “anti-frack” charges in media articles and university studies are based in fact and require a state-by-state focused improvement of well design specific for geology of the area and oversight of overall well development. Other articles have demonstrated either a severe misunderstanding or an intentional misstatement of well development processes, apparently to attack the disruptive source. Transparency requires cooperation from all sides in the debate. To enable more transparency on the oil and gas side, both to assist in the understanding of oil and gas activities and to set a foundation for rational discussion of fracturing risks, a detailed explanation of well development activities is offered in this paper, from well construction to production, written at a level of general public understanding, along with an initial estimation of frac risk and alternatives to reduce the risk, documented by literature and case histories. This discussion is a starting point for the well development descriptions and risk evaluation discussions, not an ending point.

Measuring the Economic and Energy Impacts of Proposals to Regulate Hydraulic Fracturing.[46][edit]

Abstract: This study determines the effects of regulating hydraulic fracturing on future hydrocarbon production by generating production forecasts for three policy scenarios. The results from these three scenarios are compared with production levels in a reference case, which is based on existing regulations, and with the production levels that would come from existing wells alone ("no drilling"). The results show that the effects of any policy will be substantial in the short-term and will increase in the long-term due to the increasing importance of unconventional plays in natural gas production. These effects will generally be negative, particularly for natural gas, with the potential for higher prices, more imports and negative economic impacts from reduced domestic drilling.

Water Resources and Use for Hydraulic Fracturing in the Marcellus Shale Region.[47][edit]

Abstract: Considerable attention is being focused on Marcellus Shale as a major source of natural gas. This has several important implications:

  • The Marcellus Shale is located within or nearby highly populated areas of the northeast where the general populace has little or no previous experience with oil or gas development.
  • The use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing focuses regulatory and NGO attention on issues surrounding the withdrawal of large volumes of water from sources sufficiently close to the gas exploration sites.
  • The regulatory framework for water withdrawals is complicated with a combination of states managing water within their state along with commissions (who have authority over entire river basins) that are looking at regional, interstate issues. This requires that water sourcing and use be viewed in the larger context of full lifecycle water management. Gas well operators new to the Marcellus region may find water management planning and permitting challenging because multiple approvals may be required, first by a river basin commission (if one is applicable to the location in question) then by a state agency. Once an operator becomes familiar with the process it should become relatively straightforward; however, the time required for the additional approvals must be factored into an operator‘s development schedule. The primary considerations in evaluating water needs are the location of the need, the seasonal timing of the need, the location of available water, and the regulations governing water withdrawals. In general, the Marcellus region has ample precipitation, making water readily available, and withdrawals for shale gas development will be a small part of the overall regional water demand. However, it is important to understand that while shale gas withdrawals may be small on a regional level, withdrawals at any given point must be managed to ensure the ecological health of the water body and to provide for other industrial or recreational uses.

Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Resources: Separating the Frack from the Fiction[48][edit]

In an effort to identify the key issues, the Pacific Institute interviewed a diverse set of representatives of state and federal agencies, academia, industry, environmental groups, and community-based organizations in the United States. Despite the diversity of viewpoints, there was surprising agreement about the range of concerns and issues associated with hydraulic fracturing. Interviewees identified a broad set of social, economic, and environmental concerns, foremost among which are impacts of hydraulic fracturing on the availability and quality of water resources. In particular, key water-related concerns identified by the interviewees included (1) water withdrawals; (2) groundwater contamination associated with well drilling and production; (3) wastewater management; (4) truck traffic and its impacts on water quality; (5) surface spills and leaks; and (6) stormwater management.

Hydraulic Fracturing and Safe Drinking Water Act Regulatory Issues.[49][edit]

Abstract: This report reviews past and proposed treatment of hydraulic fracturing under the SDWA, the principal federal statute for regulating the underground injection of fluids to protect groundwater sources of drinking water. It reviews current SDWA provisions for regulating underground injection activities, and discusses some possible implications of the enactment of legislation authorizing EPA to regulate hydraulic fracturing (beyond diesel) under this statute.

The future of U.S. natural gas production, use, and trade [50][edit]

Abstract: Two computable general equilibrium models, one global and the other providing U.S. regional detail, are applied to analysis of the future of U.S. natural gas. The focus is on uncertainties including the scale and cost of gas resources, the costs of competing technologies, the pattern of greenhouse gas mitigation, and the evolution of global natural gas markets. Results show that the outlook for gas over the next several decades is very favorable. In electric generation, given the unproven and relatively high cost of other low-carbon generation alternatives, gas is likely the preferred alternative to coal. A broad GHG pricing policy would increase gas use in generation but reduce use in other sectors, on balance increasing its role from present levels. The shale gas resource is a major contributor to this optimistic view of the future of gas. Gas can be an effective bridge to a lower emissions future, but investment in the development of still lower CO2 technologies remains an important priority. International gas resources may well prove to be less costly than those in the U.S., except for the lowest-cost domestic shale resources, and the emergence of an integrated global gas market could result in significant U.S. gas imports.

Re-considering the economics of photovoltaic power [51][edit]

Abstract: This paper briefly considers the recent dramatic reductions in the underlying costs and market prices of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, and their implications for decision-makers. In many cases, current PV costs and the associated market and technological shifts witnessed in the industry have not been fully noted by decision-makers. The perception persists that PV is prohibitively expensive, and still has not reached ‘competitiveness’. The authors find that the commonly used analytical comparators for PV vis a vis other power generation options may add further confusion. In order to help dispel existing misconceptions, some level of transparency is provided on the assumptions, inputs and parameters in calculations relating to the economics of PV. The paper is aimed at informing policy makers, utility decision-makers, investors and advisory services, in particular in high-growth developing countries, as they weigh the suite of power generation options available to them.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting from the Petroleum and Natural Gas Industry: Background Technical Supporting Document [52][edit]

Abstract: Emissions from natural gas production accounted for approximately 66 percent of CH4 emissions and about 25 percent of non-energy CO2 emissions from the natural gas industry in 2006. Processing facilities accounted for about 6 percent of CH4 emissions and approximately 74 percent of non-energy CO2 emissions from the natural gas industry. CH4 emissions from the natural gas transmission and storage segment accounted for approximately 17 percent of emissions, while CO2 emissions from natural gas transmission and storage accounted for less than one percent of the non-energy CO2 emissions from the natural gas industry. Natural gas distribution segment emissions, which account for approximately 10 percent of CH4 emissions from natural gas systems and less than one percent of non-energy CO2 emissions, result mainly from equipment leaks from gate stations and pipelines.

Study of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources PROGRESS REPORT [53][edit]

Abstract: The US House of Representatives requested that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conduct scientific research to examine the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water resources (USHR, 2009). In 2011, the EPA began research under its Plan to Study the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources. The purpose of the study is to assess the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources, if any, and to identify the driving factors that may affect the severity and frequency of such impacts. Scientists are focusing primarily on hydraulic fracturing of shale formations to extract natural gas, with some study of other oil-and gas-producing formations, including tight sands, and coal beds. The EPA has designed the scope of the research around five stages of the hydraulic fracturing water cycle. Each stage of the cycle is associated with a primary research question:

  • Water acquisition: What are the possible impacts of large volume water withdrawals from ground and surface waters on drinking water resources?
  • Chemical mixing: What are the possible impacts of hydraulic fracturing fluid surface spills on or near well pads on drinking water resources?
  • Well injection: What are the possible impacts of the injection and fracturing process on drinking water resources?
  • Flow back and produced water: What are the possible impacts of flow back and produced water (collectively referred to as “hydraulic fracturing waste water”) surface spills on or near well pads on drinking water resources?
  • Waste water treatment and waste disposal: What are the possible impacts of inadequate treatment of hydraulic fracturing waste water on drinking water resources?

Direct Federal Financial Interventions and Subsidies in Energy in Fiscal Year 2010 [54][edit]

Abstract: This report only includes subsidies meeting the following criteria: they are provided by the federal government, they provide a financial benefit with an identifiable FY 2010 federal budget impact, and, they are specifically targeted at energy. These criteria, particularly the energy-specific requirement, exclude some subsidies that benefit the energy sector. Some of the subsidies excluded from this analysis are discussed below. For example, Section 199 of the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, referred to as the domestic manufacturing deduction, provides reductions in taxable income for American manufacturers, including domestic oil and gas producers and refiners. The value of the Section 199 deduction in FY 2010 is estimated at $13 billion and approximately 25 percent is energy-related. While domestic oil and natural gas companies utilized this provision to reduce their 2010 tax liability, other industries, including traditional manufacturing sectors and other activities such as engineering and architectural services, sound recordings, and qualified film production, also took advantage of it.

Hydrocarbon Emissions Characterization in the Colorado Front Range: A Pilot Study [55][edit]

Abstract: The multispecies analysis of daily air samples collected at the NOAA Boulder Atmospheric Observatory (BAO) in Weld County in northeastern Colorado since 2007 shows highly correlated alkane enhancements caused by a regionally distributed mix of sources in the Denver-Julesburg Basin. To further characterize the emissions of methane and non-methane hydrocarbons (propane, n-butane, i-pentane, n-pentane and benzene) around BAO, a pilot study involving automobile-based surveys was carried out during the summer of 2008. A mix of venting emissions (leaks) of raw natural gas and flashing emissions from condensate storage tanks can explain the alkane ratios we observe in air masses impacted by oil and gas operations in northeastern Colorado. Using the WRAP Phase III inventory of total volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from oil and gas exploration, production and processing, together with flashing and venting emission speciation profiles provided by State agencies or the oil and gas industry, we derive a range of bottom-upspeciated emissions for Weld County in 2008. We use the observed ambient molar ratios and flashing and venting emissions data to calculate top-down scenarios for the amount of natural gas leaked to the atmosphere and the associated methane and non-methane emissions. Our analysis suggests that the emissions of the species we measured are most likely underestimated in current inventories and that the uncertainties attached to these estimates can be as high as a factor of two.

Research Methods[edit]

Conclusions[edit]

References[edit]

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