Shale Gas Development: How to Secure Both Energy and the Environment for Economic Benefit

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Shale gas is a source of natural gas (predominantly methane) residing in compact strata of porous rock several hundred to several thousand feet below the earth’s surface. In recent decades, innovation in the energy industry has made possible horizontal drilling and injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids to “frack” subterranean fissures through which natural gas can flow to the surface for extraction. This development has made it economical to tap shale gas in new locales, including Barnett Shale in Texas and the six-state Marcellus Shale. However, these new methods have brought drilling facilities into communities (some suburban) previously unfamiliar with shale gas infrastructure. They have also injected fluids containing “fracking” chemicals below ground, raising concerns about drinking water, as well as potential surface spillage and emissions of methane (a greenhouse gas more potent than CO2). On the other hand, tapping into our supply of shale gas has the potential for significant job growth, lessened dependence on foreign oil, and could be a stepping stone to greener energy. Our panel will address the question: how should environmental aspects of shale gas be balanced with the economic benefits?

Video Presentations from February 23, 2012

Speaker Bios & Presentations

Dale Keairns, Ph.D. is an executive advisor at Booz Allen Hamilton. He has over 40 years’ experience in industry, consulting, teaching and service through professional society initiatives. In the last ten years he has focused on energy systems analysis and planning activities to guide technology R&D needs; supporting energy research programs; management of strategic energy projects; and supporting development of technology roadmaps for future energy systems. Previously, Dr. Keairns had 32 years’ experience with Westinghouse as a senior executive leading the development and commercialization of technology to meet emerging energy and environmental needs. He has over 200 publications reporting on research, commercial development and systems analysis, and has worked with private, university and government customers in the U.S. and internationally. Dr. Keairns served as the 2008 President of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). He currently chairs the AIChE Center for Energy Initiatives, serves on the Board of the American Association of Engineering Societies, and chairs a cooperative professional society initiative on technologies for carbon management. He received his PhD in Chemical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

Peter MacKenzie is a U.S. Army and National Guard Veteran and earned a B.Sc. in Geological Sciences from the Ohio State University. A voracious appetite for field geology has taken Mr. MacKenzie through most of the fifty states, into Canada, culminating with work on Permian and Triassic clastic rocks in the Geologists Range in the Trans-Antarctic Mountains. He has been successfully directing exploration activities in the Appalachian Basin for oil and natural gas resources for nearly 20 years. Mr. MacKenzie is a pioneering advocate for the use of 3-D seismic and other advanced technologies in the Appalachian Basin for the exploitation of exploration-class oil and gas reserves. He is a member of several Professional Societies, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists, and American Institute of Professional Geologists. Mr. MacKenzie is also a member of IPAA. He is a past President of the Eastern Section of the AAPG, Chair of the Board of Governors for the AAPG GeoDC Washington DC Office, member of the Ohio Geology Advisory Council, and Trustee of the Ohio Academy of Science. Mr. MacKenzie recently joined the Ohio Oil & Gas Association as its Vice President Operations.

Carl “Mike” Smith has served as Executive Director of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) since April 2008. From 2002 to 2004, Mr. Smith served as assistant secretary of fossil energy for the U.S. Department of Energy. He served as the primary policy advisor to Secretary Spencer Abraham on federal coal, petroleum, and natural gas programs, including extensive research and development efforts. Duties also included managing the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve and the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve. From 1995 to 2002, Mr. Smith served as Oklahoma’s secretary of energy in the cabinet of former Gov. Frank Keating. He was responsible for fossil energy policy and oversight of seven major state energy agencies and commissions. He served as the governor’s official representative to the IOGCC, the Southern States Energy Board, the Interstate Mining Compact Commission and the Governors’ Ethanol Coalition. He served IOGCC as its vice chairman in 1999. Mr. Smith served as president of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association in 1994 and operated an independent oil and gas exploration company based in Oklahoma City. He practiced energy law and earned Bachelor of Arts and law degrees from the University of Oklahoma.

Matthew Watson is the Senior Energy Policy Manager at the Environmental Defense Fund in Washington, DC. His key areas of work include natural gas production issues and clean energy policy in the electric power sector. Mr. Watson also provides support to project teams working on carbon capture and sequestration and electric transmission policy. He works with Congressional leaders and the Administration, state regulators, industry partners and NGOs – and helps direct both strategic planning and analytic work at EDF. Prior to joining EDF, Mr. Watson worked on energy and environmental policy at the state and local levels in Texas. Most recently, he served as Policy Director for the Mayor of Austin, Texas – where he was responsible for launching several nationally-leading programs for energy efficiency and climate protection. Mr. Watson holds a BA in Law & Society from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a Master of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

Richard Liroff, Ph.D. is founder and Executive Director of the Investor Environmental Health Network, a group of investment advisors and managers working to reduce business’s “toxic footprint”—their production and use of toxic chemicals. With Green Century Capital Management in Boston Dr. Liroff leads investor efforts to promote increased disclosure by energy companies on reducing the environmental and business risks of hydraulic fracturing operations for natural gas. He has been invited to speak on fracturing at conferences organized by Ceres, Responsible Investor, and SRI in the Rockies. He has blogged on fracturing at Dr. Liroff is an appointed member of the State of California’s Green Ribbon Science Advisory Panel for California’s Green Chemistry Program and an elected member of the advisory council for the Green Chemistry and Commerce Council. His previous experience includes positions at World Wildlife Fund, The Environmental Law Institute, and The Brookings Institution. Dr. Liroff is author/editor of a half dozen books and numerous articles and reports on environmental policy, corporate social responsibility, and sustainability. He holds a Ph.D in Political Science from Northwestern University and a B.A. in Politics from Brandeis University.

Related Information

American Institute of Chemical Engineers

Chemical & Engineering News (a publication of the American Chemical Society)

U.S. Energy Information Administration


Ground Water Protection Council

Congressional Research Service

American Association of Petroleum Geologists

Ohio Oil and Gas Association

Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission

Environmental Defense Fund

Investors Environmental Health Network

Department of Energy

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

  • EPA’s Study of Hydraulic Fracturing and Its Potential Impact on Drinking Water Resources (November 2011 Final Study Plan)

American Chemistry Council

American Petroleum Institute

Environmental Science & Technology (a publication of the American Chemical Society)

  • Natural Gas Plays in the Marcellus Shale: Challenges and Potential Opportunities. By Kargbo, D.M.; Wilhelm, R.G.; Campbell, D.J. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2010 44 (15), 5679-5684; (Features are available free from ES&T’s website)