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RFF Home > Centers > CECE > The New Natural Gas Landscape > Pathways to Dialogue: What the Experts Say about the Environmental Risks of Shale Gas Development

Pathways to Dialogue: What the Experts Say about the Environmental Risks of Shale Gas Development

Download the Overview of Key Findings which includes Priority Risk Related to Routine Operations: Areas of Consensus and Disagreement; Risks of Accidents; High-Priority Environmental Burdens; Differences within the Expert Groups; and Preferences for Regulatory and/or Voluntary Action.

Download the Full Report.

View RFF's risk matrix for shale gas development—a catalogue of all the plausible environmental risks associated with the development of shale gas—which was the basis for the survey.

 See how each expert group’s 20 priority risk pathways overlap (diagram below).

A new report from scholars in RFF’s Center for Energy Economics and Policy, Pathways to Dialogue: What the Experts Say about the Environmental Risks of Development, is the first survey-based, statistical analysis of experts from government agencies, industry, academia, and nongovernmental organizations to identify the priority environmental risks related to shale gas development—those for which the experts believe government regulation and/or voluntary industry practices are currently inadequate to protect the public or the environment.

A key finding is the high degree of consensus among experts—survey respondents from the four different expert groups—about the specific risks most frequently identified as priorities for further regulatory or voluntary action.

These “pathways to dialogue” can provide industry leaders, policymakers, and the public with a firm starting place for further dialogue in balancing the benefits and risks of shale gas development.
















Degree of Agreement among Each Expert Groups' 20 Priority Risk Pathways

RFF’s research team analyzed the survey responses from each expert group (industry, NGO, academic, and government) and identified the risk pathways that were most frequently chosen and least frequently chosen as priorities by each group (out of 264 possible risk pathways).

The 20 risk pathways most frequently chosen by each expert group were then compared. Each oval represents the 20 priority risk pathways for each group and demonstrates the degree of overlap among the groups. (Note that, as a result of ties in the numbers of experts selecting a priority, the “top 20” actually includes 23 priorities for NGO experts, 22 for industry experts, 25 for academic experts, and 23 for government experts.) The 12 consensus risk pathways common to all groups are indicated in the center in green.

Venn Diagram Academia only NGO only Industry only Government only NGO and Academia NGO and Industry Industry and Government NGO and Government Academia and Government Industry and Academia All Except Government All Except Academia All Except Industry All Except NGO Consensus Risks Top 20 Academia Risks Top 20 Government Risks Top 20 Industry Risks Top 20 NGO Risks