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AN INTRODUCTION TO THE RISKS OF CHEAP NATURAL GAS AND HYDRAULIC FRACKING EDWARD P. RICHARDS, JD, MPH DIRECTOR, PROGRAM IN LAW, SCIENCE, AND PUBLIC HEALTH.

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Presentation on theme: "AN INTRODUCTION TO THE RISKS OF CHEAP NATURAL GAS AND HYDRAULIC FRACKING EDWARD P. RICHARDS, JD, MPH DIRECTOR, PROGRAM IN LAW, SCIENCE, AND PUBLIC HEALTH."— Presentation transcript:

1 AN INTRODUCTION TO THE RISKS OF CHEAP NATURAL GAS AND HYDRAULIC FRACKING EDWARD P. RICHARDS, JD, MPH DIRECTOR, PROGRAM IN LAW, SCIENCE, AND PUBLIC HEALTH CLARENCE W. EDWARDS PROFESSOR OF LAW LSU LAW SCHOOL

2 THE RISKS Climate Risks Local Environmental Risks Economic Consequences of Petro-states

3 ECONOMIC CLIMATE RISKS Displacement of alternative energy, including nuclear Reduction of incentives for energy efficiency Development of energy intensive industries dependent on cheap energy Co2 Leakage

4 DIRECT GHG RISKS CO2 LEAKAGE Methane (CH4) is the second most prevalent GHG emitted in the US by human activities. Much more powerful than CO2, but shorter lived 20 X more effective than CO2 over 100 years 72 X over 20 years Leakage is estimated to be as low as 1.5% and as high as 6.2%–11.7% (NOAA study - ref 1) Over 20 years, a 1.5% leakage makes methane worse for the climate than coal. Higher leakage levels do progressively more damage.

5 WHY WOULD WE WASTE METHANE? 1)Methane is not valuable right now, so engineering controls can cost more than the incremental value of the gas lost. 2)Smaller companies value short term return more than the long term value of the field 3)Huge infrastructure compared to traditional drilling, which will be very expensive to close out and maintain when the fields are depleted 4)No effective mechanism to assure long term responsibility since many fields are developed by small producers 5)No effective monitoring and regulation of CH4 so little incentive to prevent leakage.

6 LOCAL ENVIRONMENTAL RISKS Aquifer pollution by fracking fluids, either directly or through injection wells Surface water pollution by fracking fluids through improper disposal Noise and air pollution. All of these are preventable through best practices All subject to same economic factors and failed regulation. The history of the oil and gas business is not one of everyone using best practices and cleaning up after production is over.

7 ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES OF PETRO-STATES Dependence on low skills jobs. A few engineers and a lot of lower skilled workers Exacerbates income inequality Reduces support for education and preparation for a high skilled global economy Highly cyclical, with downturns doing massive economic damage.

8 INTRODUCTORY BIBLIOGRAPHY 1.Karion, A. et al. Methane emissions estimate from airborne measurements over a western United States natural gas field. Geophysical Research Letters (2013). 2.Alvarez, R.A., Pacala, S.W., Winebrake, J.J., Chameides, W.L. & Hamburg, S.P. Greater focus needed on methane leakage from natural gas infrastructure. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109, 6435–6440 (2012). 3.Lange, T. et al. Hydraulic fracturing in unconventional gas reservoirs: risks in the geological system part 1. Environmental Earth Sciences 1–15 (2013). 4.Gordalla, B.C., Ewers, U. & Frimmel, F.H. Hydraulic fracturing: a toxicological threat for groundwater and drinking-water? Environmental Earth Sciences 1–19 (2013). 5.Thompson, H. Fracking boom spurs environmental audit. Nature 485, 556–557 (2012). 6.Bateman, C. & Fair, V. A Colossal Fracking Mess. Vanity Fair 21, 1–5 (2010). 7.Ehrenberg, R. The facts behind the frack: Scientists weigh in on the hydraulic fracturing debate. science news 182, 20–25 (2012). 8.ISS, I.T. Drinking water quality near Marcellus shale gas extraction sites. PNAS 110, 11213–11214 (2013). 9.Finkel, M.L., Hays, J. & Law, A. Modern Natural Gas Development and Harm to Health: The Need for Proactive Public Health Policies. ISRN Public Health 2013, (2013). 10.Jackson, R.B. et al. Increased stray gas abundance in a subset of drinking water wells near Marcellus shale gas extraction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110, 11250–11255 (2013). 11.Down, A., Armes, M. & Jackson, R. Shale gas extraction in North Carolina: research recommendations and public health implications. Environ Health Perspect 121, A292–A293 (2013). 12.Davies, R.J., Mathias, S.A., Moss, J., Hustoft, S. & Newport, L. Hydraulic fractures: How far can they go? Marine and petroleum geology 37, 1–6 (2012). 13.Myers, T. Potential contaminant pathways from hydraulically fractured shale to aquifers. Ground Water 50, 872– 882 (2012). 14.Warner, N.R. et al. Geochemical evidence for possible natural migration of Marcellus Formation brine to shallow aquifers in Pennsylvania. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109, 11961–11966 (2012).


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