UB study examines impact of stiffer 'fracking regs

May 16, 2012 Updated May 16, 2012 at 7:08 AM EDT

By WKBW News
By Business First by David Bertola

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May 16, 2012 Updated May 16, 2012 at 7:08 AM EDT


The University at Buffalo's Shale Resources and Society Institute has issued a report that offers the first quantitative data review of Pennsylvania's regulation of hydraulic fracturing of natural gas.

The report, entitled, "Environmental Impacts During Shale Gas Drilling: Causes, Impacts and Remedies," was authored by UB institute director John Martin, University of Wyoming professor Timothy Considine and Pennsylvania State University professor emeritus Robert Watson. The authors analyzed how violations and environmental events that occurred in Pennsylvania would be dealt with by emerging regulations, such as those under review in New York. They found the proposed regulatory framework in New York could help avoid or mitigate the 25 major events identified in Pennsylvania.

In the UB report, researchers examined 2,988 violations, from nearly 4,000 natural gas wells, processed by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection from January 2008 through August 2011. They found 1,844 of the violation, or 62 percent, were administrative and preventative in nature.

The remaining 1,144 violations, or 38 percent, were environmental in nature. These were the result of 845 events, with 25 classified as "major" environmental events, defined as serious site restoration failures, serious contamination of local water supplies, land spills, blowouts, and venting and gas migration.

New York regulators are in the process of putting together proposed rules for any such drilling in the state. The controversial matter that pits environmentalists who oppose the idea against business interests who foresee significant economic gains.

Announced by UB on April 5, the Shale Resources and Society Institute's goal is to provide accurate, research-based information on the development of shale gas and other unconventional energy sources. The institute conducts and disseminates peer-reviewed research that can help guide policymakers on issues relating to hydraulic fracturing.

The report, the first produced by the institute, is available at http://www.buffalo.edu/news/pdf/UBSRSI-Environmental%20Impact.pdf

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