May 24 2010

Pitt Video

6-Minute Video Highlights – Pitt Prof Warns:

“Boom Town” Model for Shale Gas Ignores Air & Water Impacts;

No Adequate Disposal for Frac Water

Even PA Gov. Rendell Admits to Oil & Gas Execs:

5 “Challenges” to Shale Gas Drilling – All Environmental

University of Pittsburgh Prof Dan Volz challenges the “boom town” sales pitch for natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale – a model that claims the benefits far outweigh the risks.

“Much is said about the benefits of drilling in the Marcellus Shale,” Volz said.  “But none of the cost-benefit analyses touted by the gas industry and government take into account what is known as ‘public goods’ – like impacts on air and water.”

Shale Gas Rocks?

Volz’s point was illustrated in a recent “Energy Report” published by The Wall Street Journal (May 10, 2010).  The cover essay is titled, “How Shale Gas Is Going to Rock the World,” by Amy Myers Jaffe of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.1 (See “Links & Resources” below.)

Ms. Jaffe’s analysis of shale gas runs more than 2,000 words, yet “environmental risk” is dismissed in 129 words.  Amazing scholarship.

Perhaps Ms. Jaffe might want to listen to the audio file of Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell speaking to oil and gas execs at the “Natural Gas Nation” Policy Roundtable.  It was held in Dallas on March 25, sponsored by the George W. Bush Institute.2 (See “Links & Resources” below.)

Gas Industry “Protector” Admits 5 “Challenges” – All Environmental

Rendell declares himself a “protector” of the gas industry and says, “I’ve been a good spokesman minimizing the potential for groundwater pollution.”

Yet he acknowledges “five challenges” involved in shale gas drilling – every one of them environmental.  They include: how to divert millions of gallons of water necessary for shale gas drilling; how to prevent gas migration; and what do we do with the frac water?  Hardly minimal risk to the environment.

Perhaps Ms. Jaffe and her colleagues at Rice could talk to landowners in their own state like Tim Ruggiero of Decatur, Texas.  The Ruggiero family has two shale gas drilling rigs 200 feet from their back door.  You can read about it here:

They have had numerous leaks and thousands of gallons of chemical spills on their property.  The videos of these events are staggering.  As Ruggiero tells folks, “I am not opposed to drilling.  I am opposed to being poisoned.”

Perhaps Ms. Jaffe could talk to victims of that rockin’ shale gas world and advocate solutions to the environmental risks.

Dr. Dan Volz is Assistant Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh.  Volz is also Director for the Center for Healthy Environments and Communities there.  For additional background, see link:

Here is the website link for the Center for Healthy Environments and Communities:

Invest 6 minutes with Dr. Volz.  Click on the “start” arrow on the screen, or at the bottom of the video screen.

Links & Resources

1 Energy Report – “Shale Gas Will Rock the World” – from The Wall Street Journal: For those with a subscription to The Wall Street Journal, you can access the online version of the Energy Report at this link (you may have to cut and paste this link into your browser window):

2 Governor Rendell made his comments at a policy roundtable called “Natural Gas Nation” on March 25, 2010. The conference was conducted by the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, Texas.  Here is a link to the audio file of that roundtable discussion:

For ease of use, I made a transcript of the governor’s comments which can be accessed here.  In a few places where a word or phrase was unclear I’ve indicated that.  See p. 3 for the Five Challenges:  gov-rendell-ng-nation.

Finally, here is a link to the website for the “Natural Gas Nation” conference:

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