DOE Panel Offers Consensus Guidelines for Extracting Natural Gas Safely

August 10, 2011
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NEWS RELEASE

Contact:
Tony Kreindler, 202-445-8108, akreindler@edf.org

(Washington, DC – August 11, 2011) The Secretary of Energy's Advisory Board on Natural Gas today issued an interim report calling for "strong regulation and effective enforcement" in order to ensure the safe and sustainable development of America's onshore natural gas resources. In May, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu tasked environmental, industry and state leaders to make recommendations for improving environmental performance and reducing risks associated with shale gas production. Today, this diverse group of advisors released a report that reflects 90 days of deliberation and highlights a series of consensus-based recommendations based on that charge.

Key themes in the report include the need for greater transparency and disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations and other potential environmental impacts from shale gas development, a call for industry to lead in developing and implementing best practices and a call for agencies to modernize their rules and adopt robust enforcement practices. Though regulatory design was beyond the scope of the subcommittee, the report makes it clear that "effective and capable regulation is essential to protect the public interest. The challenges of protecting human health and the environment in light of the anticipated rapid expansion of shale gas production require the joint efforts of federal and state regulators. This means that resources dedicated to oversight of the industry must be sufficient to do the job and there is adequate regulatory staff at the state and federal level with the technical expertise to issue, inspect and enforce regulations."

EDF President Fred Krupp, one of seven subcommittee members, emphasized the tough, balanced nature of the recommendations. "This report is an important first step," Krupp said. "At a time when so much of the debate in Washington is characterized by discord and paralysis, it finds common ground and offers a clear consensus. The public's right to clean water and clean air cannot be compromised. The subcommittee's recommendations won't solve every problem overnight. But if implemented, they would make real progress toward developing this abundant energy source in ways that safeguard public health and the environment. Rigorous, well-designed standards and improved transparency and disclosure can help ensure that shale gas is developed responsibly now and in the future."

The subcommittee's report may be viewed here and will be presented to the full committee in late August. Members of the subcommittee include: John Deutch, Institute Professor at MIT (Chair); Stephen Holditch, Head of the Department of Petroleum Engineering, Texas A&M University; Fred Krupp, President, Environmental Defense Fund; Kathleen McGinty, Former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; Susan Tierney, Managing Principal, Analysis Group; Daniel Yergin, Chairman, IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates; and Mark Zoback, Professor of Geophysics, Stanford University.