Hydraulic Fracturing of Shale: Building Consensus Out of Controversy

Friday, February 17, 2012: 1:30 PM-4:30 PM
Room 202-204 (VCC West Building)
The extraordinarily rapid acceleration of shale gas development, made possible by hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, has transformed the outlook for North American energy production.  Indeed, recent estimates indicate natural gas extraction from shale gas development could meet provide a relatively clean and affordable source for the continent’s energy needs for the next 100 years or more. Enthusiasm for shale gas as a game-changing resource is tempered, however, by fears that hydraulic fracturing could contaminate groundwater, worsen air quality, and even trigger seismic activity.  In response, some U.S. states and Canadian provinces have imposed moratoriums on shale development until more is known about hydraulic fracturing and its effects on the environment. The three-hour symposium will be moderated by Dr. Raymond L. Orbach, director of the Energy Institute at The University of Texas at Austin and former Under Secretary for Science at the U.S. Department of Energy.  Four participants, representing distinguished universities in Canada and the U.S., will discuss findings from a new study analyzing reports of groundwater contamination and other environmental effects ascribed to the practice; assess concerns relating to water use and water disposal during the shale gas development; examine claims of seismic activity in northeastern British Columbia; and explore prospects for fostering consensus among policymakers for the regulation of shale gas development in a sustainable energy future.
Raymond Orbach, University of Texas
Raymond Orbach, University of Texas
Charles “Chip” Groat, The University of Texas at Austin
Fact-Based Regulation for Environmental Protection in Shale Gas Resource Development
John J. Clague, Simon Fraser University
Hydraulic Fracturing and Earthquakes in Western Canada
Danny Reible, Cockrell School of Engineering
Water Use and Water Disposal in Hydraulic Fracturing
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