It is the Subcommittee’s judgment that if action is not taken to reduce the environmental impact accompanying the very considerable expansion of shale gas production expected across the country – perhaps as many as 100,000 wells over the next several decades – there is a real risk of serious environmental consequences and a loss of public confidence that could delay or stop this activity.
The consequences to the nation from unrestricted gas fracking could be very serious if multiple actions aren’t taken quickly by energy companies and the government. That the somewhat surprising conclusion of The Secretary of Energy Advisory Board Subcommittee (SEAB) on Shale Gas Production.
It’s a bit surprising since “six of the seven members have current financial ties to the natural gas and oil industry.” It just shows how inescapable the dangers are when looked at by serious people.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, pumps water, sand and chemicals underneath shale formations to force out trapped gas. It allows companies to access massive reserves of gas that were formerly unreachable. But drilling operations leak large amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and are associated with a host of problems including groundwater contamination and even earthquakes — see Shale Shocked: “Highly Probable” Fracking Caused U.K. Earthquakes, and It’s Linked to Oklahoma Temblors.
And fracking is poised to become commonplace around the country, as the map from the full report (PDF here) makes clear.
The Subcommittee strongly urged EPA and state regulation of fracking emissions — and that those regulations “explicitly include methane, a greenhouse gas.” In their first report from August, they recommended:
Measures should be taken to reduce emissions of air pollutants, ozone precursors, and methane as quickly as practicable.
Now they write: