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RFF Launches New Initiative on Risks and Regulation of Shale Gas 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 18, 2011
CONTACT: Pete Nelson, 202-328-5191, nelson@rff.org

WASHINGTON—RFF’s Center for Energy Economics and Policy (CEEP) received a $1.2 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to identify the greatest risks associated with hydraulic fracturing of shale formations to produce natural gas and recommend economically sound policies to reduce those risks.

This project will be the first independent, broad assessment of expert opinion and public perception of the risks associated with the shale gas development process. The CEEP research team, led by Center Director Alan Krupnick, will use that information to determine the most significant risks and the behaviors of industry and regulators that influence those risks. Matching these findings to an analysis of existing state and federal policies will lead to recommendations for how and where to improve regulation and encourage industry action.

“There are many competing voices and diverse views in the discussions of fracturing shale for gas, both within the general public and expert community,” said Krupnick. “As the U.S. considers how  to address concerns with shale gas exploration and production, it is crucial that our approach is grounded in a clear understanding of the risks involved, the drivers of risk, and the many different interests that must be balanced.”

The project will include five key components:

  1. A survey of experts in academia, industry, the NGO community, and government to identify the risks involved in the shale gas development process.
  2. A survey of the public in several key shale gas states to understand public perception of risks.
  3. Identification of the most significant risks from both surveys, and analysis of data to understand what drives those risks and how they can best be reduced.
  4. An assessment of current state and federal shale gas regulation.
  5. Recommendations for economically sound regulatory reforms and nonregulatory alternatives.

CEEP is assembling a team of experts, including scholars with expertise in water management, natural gas drilling, risk management, cost–benefit analysis, hydrology, engineering, geology, and survey-based research. Over the next 18 months, the team will conduct stakeholder outreach, publish studies, hold briefings, and provide updated findings on the web at www.rff.org/ceep.


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Founded in 1952, Resources for the Future is an independent and nonpartisan institution devoted to research and publishing about critical issues in environmental and natural resource policy.​

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