Not too sure which board to post this on. Could be political, but it is clearly related to shale gas drilling and production. Found this article today on DOE Secretary Chu naming an advisory committee on Shale Gas. You should know that DOE has no regulatory authority in this area. Presumably, the Secretary will send along any finding to EPA and Interior, and perhaps Congress. The panel is somewhat balanced. The chair, John Deutch, has a defense background, not energy, but clearly 2 of the 3 will be opponents of any type of fracing.
Chu names panel on shale gas
A former chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the head of the petroleum engineering department at Texas A&M University are among seven energy and environment specialists whom Energy Secretary Steven Chu asked Thursday to recommend safety improvements for shale-gas production.
The specialists will form a subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, and are expected to present recommendations to Chu within 90 days. The 13-member board first decided to create the subcommittee during a meeting in January.
"America's vast natural gas resources can generate many new jobs and provide significant environmental benefits, but we need to ensure we harness these resources safely," Chu said. "I am looking forward to hearing from this diverse, respected group of experts on best practices for safe and responsible natural gas production."
Among the appointees is Kathleen McGinty, who led the White House CEQ during the Clinton administration, and served as a environmental adviser to former Vice President Al Gore when he was a senator. She later was secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Another appointee, Stephen Holditch, heads the petroleum engineering department at Texas A&M, and serves on the boards of several petroleum companies. He helped develop hydraulic-fracturing technology in the 1970s, DOE said.
Other members of the subcommittee are: Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund; Mark Zoback, a professor of geophysics at Stanford University, who was a member of a National Academy of Engineering panel which investigated the 2010 Macondo accident in the Gulf of Mexico; Susan Tierney, a former DOE assistant secretary for policy; Daniel Yergin, a co-founder of HIS Cambridge Energy Research Associates; and John Deutch, a former DOE under secretary of energy during the Carter administration.
Deutch will serve as the subcommittee chair. He is a member of SEAB along with Tierney and Yergin.
The US is currently in the midst of a shale-gas boom, driven by advances in hydraulic fracturing, often called fracking. The boom has come with controversy, however, with some communities saying chemicals used in fracking have contaminated their drinking water.
none of the members of the panel have ties to DOE or NETL. John Deutch, the Chair, was a political appointee some 20 years ago at DOE, but has stronger ties to the Defense complex.
A well kept secret is that except for NETL, most of DOE has little to do with or knowledge of the oil and gas industry. DOE has been strengthening its energy research in the last few years, but not a lot of nuts and bolts oil and gas.
dunno about bolts but there are plenty of nuts in the DOE
but seriously the panel itself is redundant... however, at least the members are a fairly diverse lot with a large amount of o&g experience. i am somewhat hopeful of a positive outcome, but honestly it sounds like they're being told to figure out how to regulate fracturing on a federal level, not whether we actually need more regulation in the first place.
if this winds up like the last "committee" appointed to study our financial situation, color me unsurprised if it is mostly ignored, and subsequent executive actions are taken based on a previously determined conclusion regardless of the official recommendation. at which point i think shale producers would soon find themselves having a hard time replacing the decline curve going forward, much less growing production. on the bright side 15-20 years from now when global LNG supply has really tightened up the people who own properties that are still drillable might make out like bandits as the price skyrockets and people accuse gas producers of profiteering.
without healthy and sustained economic growth we will be left behind slowly but surely, and mark my words, we have not won our current respite from the storm because of our strength, we are enjoying the side benefits of the e.u.'s economic weakness. global demand for energy will surge again soon, our currency will continue to weaken, and everyone in this country will be squeezed from both ends again and again. i do not subscribe to china overtaking us by 2016 as some do, but we are definitely heading for the event occurring at some point in our near future so long as we keep choking the geese that are laying the eggs. of course if something crazy happens like chinese society melting down or the fed announcing no QE3 all bets are off. stranger things have happened.
i think in the short run we should keep it as simple as possible, which by definition includes keeping federal government's big nose out of the states' business. to quote a fine fellow, the nine most terrifying words in the english language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.
Tierney has served at DOE in political positions under Clinton, and served on Obama's transition team for DOE. I have no sense of her position on Oil and Gas exploration or environmental issues.
I assume that Chu headed down this path because of the current concerns over fracing, and the importance of natural gas to the nation's energy future. The panel has 2 members that I would have to assume are generally opposed to all things fossil fuel, the head of Petroleum Engineering Department at Texas A&M (I assume he is comfortable and supportive of O&G), and Mark ZobacK, who I heard say in a seminar that there is almost no chance of fracing fluids contaminating water tables unless there was a big ground spill and it somehow flowed down around the outside of the casing. One would assume (I'm doing that a lot about this panel) that there is no intent to "kill the golden goose" of shale gas.
that was my point, they will not overtly attack shale gas, but honestly it is quite possible it won't matter either way. the administration can do what it wants regardless of what it's kabuki theater ensemble says about the issue.
also, chu is doing what he is told to do.
How many serious big money or power interests are there in how the findings turn out..?
Are they really looking for evidence to lead to them to an honest conclusion or just the evidence to support the conclusion they have already come too? How much money could this be worth?
I guess I am less cynical than you all. To my knowledge, there is no "Capitol Hill" involvement in this study - initiated by the Executive Branch. DOE has no regulatory authoithy over the O&G industry from a exploration and production standpoint. O&G exploration were statutorily exempted from compliance with the Clean Water and Clean Air acts as well as RCRA (regulation of hazardous chemicals), but those are EPA areas, not DOE.
I come from this as a land and mineral owner within the HS, a proponent of reducing foreign imports of crude, and a taxpayer. I don't believe that fracing poses a big threat to water tables, and I'm not in favor of more federal regulation. But I think an honest assessment of the environmental aspects of fracing would be useful and informative. Key word there - "honest." If there's a problem, then let's identify it and fix it. If there's not a big problem, then the O&G industry and its supporters will have a report to point to.
And I'm also not nearly cynical enough to believe that the panel's determinations will be affected by lobbying $$ or campaign contributions. While I don't know any of the members personally, I'm pretty sure someone who is a former staffer for Al Gore is not going to change her views because of some lobbyist or campaign contribution (to who, Obama?). I'm also pretty sure that the Texas A&M chair of the Petroleum Engineering Department is not going to change his stipes (or his integrity) over serving on some ad hoc panel like this.
HOUSTON — University of Texas at Austin officials say the school will study the environmental impact of natural gas drilling and whether existing regulation properly oversees a key process that pumps chemical-laced water into subterranean rock.
Drillers make rocks known as shale formations more permeable though a method called hydraulic fracturing that allows the gas to flow out. The process has been used for decades, but now companies are "fracking" while also drilling horizontally, a tactic that only became economically viable about 10 years ago.
The school said Monday the $300,000, nine-month study by UT's Energy Institute will explore accusations that "fracking" has led to water contamination and could cause other environmental damage.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is also studying the issue and plans to release its findings next year.
Most recent information I have seen on this subject.