ELPC Clinical Instructor Shaun Goho moderated a panel at the MIT Energy Conference on March 17, 2012. The panel, titled “Managing the Shale Gas Revolution,” brought together representatives from industry, the environmental community, and academia to discuss the regulatory and technological challenges posed by the dramatic rise in natural gas extraction from shale formations. Shale gas extraction, which relies on recent advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies, may enhance American energy independence and provides a potentially cleaner energy source than coal, but presents a variety of environmental risks relating to groundwater contamination, air pollution, and wastewater disposal. The panelists discussed the current state of knowledge regarding the causes and magnitude of these risks, areas where additional research is needed, and what type of regulatory scheme is needed to address the risks.
The MIT Energy Conference is an annual two-day conference that brings together leaders in the fields of technology, policy, industry, and finance to explore solutions to the world’s most pressing energy challenges. The theme of the 2012 conference was “Insight and Innovation in Uncertain Times.”
The Clinic has a variety of ongoing projects related to the extraction of shale gas, including its production of guides for landowners negotiating leases with gas companies, comments on the proposed use of natural gas well brines for dust suppression and road stabilization in Pennsylvania, and development of legal theories that might allow surface owners to protect themselves against some of the harms associated with shale gas extraction