Blog Post

RFF ON THE ISSUES: Identifying potential shale gas risks; Tax reform and energy policy; Containing deepwater oil spills

Jun 11, 2012 | RFF Staff

Identifying Potential Shale Gas Risks

Last week, experts met at the World Gas Conference 2012 in Malaysia to discuss the sustainable development of natural gas. While industry leaders expressed concerns over too much government regulation, the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, Maria van der Hoeven, noted that the lack of a regulatory framework could cause the gas to “stay where it is. Underground.”

Also last week, RFF’s Center for Energy Economics and Policy released an analysis that identifies the plausible risks associated with hydraulic fracturing for shale gas. This analysis, known as the Risk Matrix for Shale Gas Development, shows more than 200 “impact pathways” that link activities associated with shale gas development to possible impacts on the environment. The goal of this work is to help decisionmakers be aware of “the potential risks to be considered when developing a well, examining impacts from widespread drilling activities, or writing regulations.”

Tax Reform and Energy Policy

With energy prices continuing to rise and economic recovery still underway, government and industry leaders have resumed conversations about the link between energy policies and taxes—from how changing the tax code could boost solar and other renewables to ideas of pricing carbon emissions. The Senate Committee on Finance has also taken up the issue with this week’s hearing, Tax Reform: Impact on U.S. Energy Policy. On Tuesday, June 12, at 10 a.m., watch RFF President Phil Sharp testify before the committee here.

Containing Deepwater Oil Spills

This summer, the Marine Well Containment Company (MWCC) will conduct a live simulation in the Gulf of Mexico to test new equipment to cap potential deepwater oil spills. As interest in deepwater drilling continues to grow around the world, the need for proven safety equipment becomes even more critical.

An RFF assessment of the MWCC emphasizes that “demonstrating improved capacity to contain is one key to reducing this risk.” Authors Robert Anderson, Mark Cohen, Molly Macauley, Nathan Richardson, and Adam Stern also note that third-party expert technical review and quantitative risk assessment are important factors for ensuring long-term deepwater spill containment.