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Managing the Risks of Shale Gas: Identifying a Pathway toward Responsible Development
November 14, 2011

About the Event

Event panel (L-R): Alan Krupnick, Sheila Olmstead, James Saiers, Mukul Sharma, Karlis MuehlenbachsFor decades, natural gas has played an important role in electricity generation, industrial uses, and heating in the United States—and with recent improvements in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) of shale formations, drillers can now access a vastly greater amount of gas at lower cost than in the past.

The rapid growth in drilling and extraction, however, has resulted in tensions—from the community level to the federal policy level. Questions about the risks and safety of shale gas development continue, even as industry has improved disclosure, shared best practices, and assured the public that hydraulic fracturing techniques are safe.

Given these challenges, this year RFF’s Center for Energy Economics and Policy (CEEP) launched an initiative to identify the priority risks associated with shale gas development and recommend strategies for responsible development. The CEEP research team will survey expert opinion and public perceptions to determine the most significant risks and the behaviors of industry and regulators that influence those risks. Pairing these findings with analysis of existing state and federal policies and voluntary industry actions will lead to recommendations for how to improve the management of shale gas development.

The Nov. 14th public launch of this project featured members of the CEEP team and our expert advisors who specialize in petroleum engineering, geochemistry, and hydrology. The group provided a context for the interest in shale gas, an overview of the shale gas development process, a drill-down on several potential risks, and a presentation of the initial stages of our work.

RFF is grateful to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for their generous support of this initiative and event.


Molly Macauley, Senior Fellow and Vice President for Research, Resources for the Future


Alan Krupnick, Senior Fellow and Director, Center for Energy Economics and Policy, Resources for the Future
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Sheila Olmstead, Fellow, Resources for the Future
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Mukul Sharma, Professor and “Tex” Moncrief Centennial Chair in Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering, University of Texas at Austin
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Karlis Muehlenbachs, Professor, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta
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James Saiers, Professor of Hydrology, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University
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Audio and Video
Event Audio (mp3) click to stream and right-click to download

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