A new report from the Department of Energy calls for the creation of a shale gas production organization -- a private sector agency that would set safety standards and address environmental concerns
The boom in natural gas extracted from shale rock through new technology holds out great transformative promise for the future: for consumers in lowering energy costs, for workers in creating domestic jobs, for the environment as a substitute for coal, for balance of trade as we may export more than we import and for energy security as we become less dependent on foreign oil and gas and reduce the influence of nations like Iran, Russia and Venezuela.
But today shale gas production faces important environmental and safety issues which must be addressed through both voluntary corporate action and appropriate regulation, with business leaders playing a key role in both spheres.
This is a central conclusion in an important, interim report from a panel of experts constituted by the Department of Energy to assess environmental and safety implications of the new technologies of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing which have made the shale gas boom possible.
The report was issued on August 11th, but it was lost amidst stock market gyrations and global economic uncertainty. Yet, the long-term implications of dramatically increasing supplies of natural gas from shale are of first-order significance to the global economic future. And the report -- from the shale gas subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board -- provides incisive perspective on how to balance economic and environmental issues and on the central part enlightened business leaders must play.