The Next Great Compromise: A Comprehensive Response to Opposition Against Shale Gas Development Using Hydraulic Fracturing in the United States
Texas Tech Law Review, Vol. 46:423, 2014
47 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2016
Date Written: 2013
By 2015, the United States is poised to overtake the world’s current top producer of natural gas, Russia, due to the abundance of American shale gas, located in plays such as the now-familiar Marcellus Shale, which encompasses parts of New York, Pennsylvania, and certain Appalachian states and the Barnett Shale, located in North Texas. The recent rise in shale gas development is due mostly to the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (also referred to as fracing, fracking, and hydrofracking) technologies. The combination of these separate, but established, technologies allows for economic shale gas production. This Article describes these key technologies and addresses the major arguments against shale gas development, which are that: (1) hydraulic fracturing causes groundwater contamination, (2) shale gas development requires excessive water resource consumption, (3) shale gas production leads to increased climate change effects, (4) shale gas development discourages the promotion of renewable energy sources, and (5) hydraulic fracturing causes earthquakes. Upon examination of these widespread arguments, this Article provides responses based on scientific and legal premises, concluding that shale gas offers the United States the unprecedented opportunity to secure its energy supplies from domestic sources, thus minimizing geopolitical risk exposure, while at the same time reducing environmental impact. Finally, this Article provides a process by which the disagreeing groups can establish a dialogue about shale gas development, which will be essential to the future of American energy.
Keywords: hydraulic fracturing, fracking, fracing, hydrofracking, oil, gas, energy
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