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03/10/2017

Comments

Sal Diaz

Although my area of Pennsylvania has not been largely impacted by the effects of shale gas development, many of the surrounding communities have been. For this reason, most of my experiences with this energy source shift have involved the presence of boomtowns. My father is a private contractor, and he has been hired to assist in the construction of temporary housing and hotels for boomtowns. Most of my information about the economic effects of shale comes from this perspective.

In terms of housing these boomtowns, my understanding is that they generate great economic growth initially, then quickly have little use. The initial stages building the well and getting the extraction process started, as you can imagine, demand a full team of engineers, mechanics, construction workers, etc. Many of these individuals are not needed on a day-to-day basis once the well is up and running. For this reason, many hotels and renters struggle after the initial boom do to the still high supply of housing and the much lower demand. Even though the industry has proven to be quite successful as a job creator, it has not been nearly as successful as a job sustainer. Only a fraction of the jobs initially created are actually maintained a short period of time afterwards. So, even if shale gas is more environmentally efficient, there still need to be improvements in efficiency in terms of not creating an unsustainable amount of housing and other long-lasting damages to the local market.

Kinsey_Grant

Twenty years, Schrag writes, is too short of a time scale to determine the comparative effects of greenhouse gases. But it seems a great deal can be accomplished on Capitol Hill in twenty years – even in twenty days. Is it necessary to take the half-century to determine if shale is better than coal when we already know, with a good deal of certainty, that coal is bad? Policy is already stagnant - I wonder how long we have to wait to make moves.

The answer seems to be that we aren’t really sure – or the classic two-word answer, it depends. Schrag never really answers his title question, but he makes a good case for forging onward regardless of the answer. With such little traction in policy change, we ought to focus on what we do know – coal is not good for climate change, regardless of whether shale gas is.

Tuesday's paper is interesting to consider in conjunction with Mason’s Economics of Shale Gas Development. The paper seems to be characterized by “it depends” issues. Prices have decreased for residential and commercial consumers, but national reliance on gas has increased. The information suggests air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions are better off, but water sources and aquatic ecosystems are under pressure. Revenue flows from boomtowns might be beneficial, but it depends on how they’re used. I understand the requisite uncertainty of Mason’s paper as a forerunner in the calculation of externalities, but I wish the authors would tease out some aspects to take more of a stand. The scope of economic benefits is large, the authors write, but there is not enough information about negative externalities. I wonder if they could take a cue from Schrag and march forward as he proposes is the proper thing to do with policymaking.

Chantal Iosso

Although it seems relatively clear from this paper that natural gas is better for the environment than coal, it seems possible that the substitution of natural gas for coal will not cause a sizeable decrease in carbon emissions if it also replaces renewable sources. Moreover, the natural gas could be sold internationally, and potentially replace renewables more than other heavy carbon emitting sources, resulting in higher carbon emissions worldwide. It would be interesting to know what percentage of coal and renewable use that natural gas could replace, in the US and abroad. What would be replaced first, without a carbon tax—renewables or coal? How big would the carbon tax have to be in order to allow renewables to continue to be competitive?
Kinsey commented about the need for quicker action from the government, even if the true costs of shale gas are not yet known. However, I would ask 1) what type of government action is she referring to? I don’t believe shale gas should be subsidized, given that this paper lays out a range of negative externalities associated with it, and a carbon tax might help shale gas more than coal but still probably wouldn’t be in the natural gas industry’s best interest. 2) given a previous article that indicated that even if America was carbon neutral, the impact worldwide to carbon emissions would be marginal, maybe trying to replace coal with shale gas is small potatoes on a global scale, and renewables should be prioritized in the US and abroad so that the goal is not just slightly lowering emissions.

Monette Carli

This paper provides a much better understanding of the pros and cons of shale gas, however I am still left questioning whether or not it is actually better for the environment. Despite the fact that shale gas has many benefits, our lack of full information about the negative externalities and social costs is concerning. This is especially true when some externalities involve issues as serious as declining water quality and impacts on the health of local people. Beyond this, the temporary nature of boomtowns represents a salient issue for locals. Building a local economy around the shale gas development is simply not sustainable when many jobs are only short-term. In the end, those living in boomtowns could be left in a worse position than they were before, with businesses and infrastructure that cannot be supported once the boom is over.

I find it especially troubling that shale gas will contribute to further oil discoveries and a decrease in use and development in renewable energy. If we already know that renewable energy sources like wind and solar power have very few negative externalities, why would we begin diverting our attention to an energy source with unknown and potentially very negative impacts? Even though Schrag makes an argument that this could help fight the power in the oil industry, I do not see it as a long term solution to the problem.

Phillip Harmon

The contents of the readings for class this week really came as a huge surprise to me. Coming into the week I had a big misconception about what people meant by fracking. I knew that it was a technique to retrieve some sort of fuel source, but I could not have told you which one. I would have told you was that fracking is horrible. For whatever reason everyone who I had ever heard speaking about fracking had framed it as the worst thing in the world. By the way I had heard it discussed, you would have thought that it was single handedly destroying the environment, the economy, and providing intelligence to China.

So my question is this: is fracking often painted in a negative light everywhere? From the readings, it sounds like fracking really isn't quite so awful as I had believed and I have never had the same negative perception of any other kind of fossil fuel/extraction method. I'm curious if my proximity to areas where other fuels (coal) historically drove the economy has biased what I have heard about fracking. If people everywhere speak so harshly about fracking, why? I would think that other fuel sources would also take some of the hate. Also for the sake of clarity, I live in Roanoke. This isn't even a mining town; those are a little further down the road. That's in part why I am so confused about where I came to have this understanding of fracking as the devil.

Amanda Meador

Last week, the Florida senate led by Republican Senator Dana young proposed bill SB 442 that would ban fracking, hydraulic acid, and matrix, across the state. This drew opposition from ExxonMobil and the Florida Petroleum Council as it would be the strictest ban in the country in terms of fracking. This article allowed me to analyze the situation further. I understood the environmental and social negatives of fracking especially concerning many of Florida’s porous and fragile limestone aquifers that could be significantly affected by a fracking accident. Conversely, I could further understand the benefit to the citizens and Florida and Florida Power and Light, our largest energy provider. We currently, as a state are the third largest consumers of oil and natural gas in the county. The implementation of fracking, per FP’L, would lower energy costs across the state and provide more revenue for the Florida economy.
Given the extensive pros and cons as outlined by Schrag and external influences at work in the Senate and House in Florida, it will be interesting to see how bill SB 442 plays out this session.

Alana Babington

Mason, Muehlenbachs, and Olmstead’s piece on the economics of shale gas was similar to an article I read this summer about the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of shale gas by Cooper, Stamford, and Azapagic. Both papers were similar in that they tend to sway towards naming shale gas as having greater benefits than costs in the overarching realm of energy production. Benefits being a relatively more sustainable source of energy, increased supply, lower prices of natural gas compared to coal, national security positive externalities, the list goes on. The costs of shale gas being energy security, employment, water and land pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, earthquakes, and public perception. I believe the article articulates that it is possible to develop shale gas in a sustainable way, but its future will depend on the industry being able to address the environmental concerns, the progression of political input, and most importantly, public support. Going off the public support area, I also find solidarity with Philip’s thoughts about fracking. Previously to reading this piece I was not aware of the full definition of fracking. I had glossed over fracking with the belief that it was terrible for people and environment alike. However, reading more thoroughly and from a more pro-fracking prospective, I find the conversation around fracking more interesting because it does seem like a fairly good alternative to coal. However, as I earlier stated and as we discussed in class, both do have significant negative externalities, but I believe there will be some extent of negative externalities within energy production and consumption.

AJ Witherell

Upon reading the two papers from this week, I have been introduced to many more consequences (both positive and negative) of fracking and the production of shale gas, and believe it is overall a benefit for our economy. However, I think that the difficulty in this argument is the evaluation of certain aspects in the process. For example, look at a few of the benefits associated with shale gas production in the U.S., such as decreased oil prices, improved security of supply, and additional employment. The first example is fairly easy to monetize because it is a direct market value of the costs of oil. Next, the production of shale gas has allowed the U.S. to be less vulnerable to fluctuations in global oil markets, but the total benefit would be difficult to determine due to scaling of U.S. imports with trading partners and predicting the future of these markets. The third one presents the interesting analysis that Sal mentioned in his response. If many of these jobs from boomtowns only last a short period of time then leave behind wasted infrastructure and unemployment, how do we value these “benefits,” as well as its subsequent “costs”? Naturally, this leads discussion into the other costs included, which were mentioned in the reading as being: water quality depletion, habitat fragmentation, and air quality impacts. I think that each of these presents the same issue as above, how does one value these impacts? As categorized in the reading, they are considered non-market impacts which makes them difficult to determine the true value/costs associated. In addition, I also think that there is an opportunity costs associated with fracking not mentioned in the reading for Thursday. I think the promotion and production of fracking is actually hurting our incentives to find renewable energy sources more quickly. I am not arguing that fracking is a bad thing for our economy (because to me it appears much better than coal), but I think that fracking, is encouraging our country to continue to rely on fossil fuels, which produce far more GHG emissions than renewable sources. In a way, it seems that we are just pushing off the bigger problem for a later date because of our ability to find another source of fossil fuels.

Courtney Freudenthal

I wish I had read Daniel Schrag's article before I interned at Environment Virginia last summer. During my time at Environment Virginia, an environmental advocacy group, I helped support their summer campaigns. Though I primarily worked on promoting the benefits of national parks and the national park service, one project involved promoting Virginia's Clean Power Plan. At the time I was not as well versed on the pros and cons of natural gas. I did have a decent understanding of the consequences of burning coal, but natural gas was just vaguely explained to me to be just as bad as coal. I feel that as a responsible citizen and intern at EV I should have taken it upon myself to really research natural gas to understand the intricacies of the problem but at the time I just took my boss's word for it and thought "gas is bad." Schrag's article helps tease out why this question can be so complicated to answer, for merely changing the mechanisms of measurement give different interpretations.

At EV, their stance was just to say a harsh NO to natural gas. I think if the goal is to minimize emissions (not just the rate) then it seems that Schrag does a good job indicating a nuanced argument for a possible way in which natural gas could help do that (at least in the short term). Unfortunately, having worked for a grassroots advocacy group, there just seems to be such little willingness to work together between the fossil fuel industry and environmental organizations. It's hard for me to imagine a world like the one that Schrag describes at the end of his article.

Sam Ross

Throughout my time at W&L, the majority of my Environmental Studies and Geology courses have emphasized the notion that all fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) are to blame for the United States’ excessive carbon dioxide emissions and, as such, must be ousted as energy sources. Such a notion paints a very black and white scenario—either we shift the entirety of our energy reliance to renewable sources, or we concede to climate change. In fact, on multiple occasions this year I’ve heard classmates advocate for a total ban on fossil fuels with little to no understanding of the economic repercussions of such a drastic action. I found “The Economics of Shale Gas Development” to be a refreshing read, for it discredits this polarized perception of US energy consumption. It was fascinating to learn how an energy sector reliant solely on natural gas stacked up (CO2 emissions-wise) against other fossil fuels. A regulated natural gas energy sector would yield a 6.6% drop in our emissions; this is both feasible and considerably more beneficial than a “business-as-usual” approach. I believe that environmentalists (both on campus and across the country) should strive to inform themselves on the economics of energy consumption. Unless the environmental movement can incorporate natural gas into the picture and agree to maintain some reliance on fossil fuels (to a lesser extent, at least), I cannot envision how policymakers could take us seriously and grant us a seat at the bargaining table in the near future.

Cole Wilbur

The Economics of Shale Gas Development was an incredibly interesting read. I do not know a lot about “fracking”, but had a decent background from my brother (Geology major) who did a summer of research on the topic in the past. I found it very interesting how at first the benefits of fracking seem to be abundant and straightforward. The article made it seem very clear that using this method in harvesting is a much better option to our old techniques. The thought of reducing C02 emissions by a sizeable amount as an externality of fracking makes the transition to its practice sound to good to be true. Politically, eliminating the need for trade partners by relying more on the shale gas development also seems to be a strong net positive. Both of these key aspects of fracking, however, do come with concern. Fracking may have the potential to solve our current “headline” problems, but it is hard to predict what other problems could arise from this new technique and to what extent they will affect society. Water quality is a major problem that we know fracking negatively affects. That in itself should be enough to caution us from an immediate change to its devices. Besides the water concern, I am curious how this technique will affect costs and if they will raise or lower them comparatively. I also wonder whether or not we know the extent to which fracking is damaging the water systems. The paper discuses negative affects in the form water depletion, release of unfriendly chemicals, and harm to ecosystems, but seems to fail at delivering on the magnitude of harm it could cause with a continued reliance in its method (and the how the overall connectivity of water systems potentially could increase the problems at an alarming rate). Overall, I can see the reluctance to fracking as well as the feeling of need for it. I think it can serve as a positive to our society if we approach it with caution and a clear understanding of its externalities.

Abby Beasley

Prior to reading this article, or rather Tuesday's article, my impression of fracking had been purely negative based on the politically driven public knowledge or perception of fracking. Although fracking imposes a series of negative externalities upon water systems, this is perhaps an opportunity to reevaluate water overuse and disposal among quality concerns. Not unlike other issues, the long-term economic benefits are too often overlooked. While the necessity to decrease and ultimately eliminate the use of coal is present, any conclusion regarding fracking or shale can go either way because of the variances in cost-benefit analyses when taking different effects into consideration including the aforementioned externalities surrounding the increased used of water in the process. This article seems to maintain a positive disposition on the replacement of coal energy because of its dramatic negative externalities that continue to drive climate change, but recognizes that no argument or research is conclusive or exhaustive of all effects.

Jalen Twine

In response to Phillip's question about whether or not fracking is judged harshly everywhere I think that the answer to that question would be no. Coming from Houston, Texas, oil-drilling and fracking are cornerstones of a major portion of the business in Texas. I think that the article does a great job of describing the benefits and negative externalities that come with fracking. For Texas and specifically the cities the positives outweigh the negatives by so much and the state as a whole relies on it so much that the negatives can be overlooked and fracking and oil-drilling is not seen in a harsh way at all. I was surprised by Phillip's comment but after reading the article I realize that the benefits are not as great in other places so it makes sense why the negatives are the prevalent school of thought.

Robert Lance

I largely agree with Sam's comment above. I feel like it is unreasonable and illogical to simply claim something is good or bad just because the words "renewable" or "fossil" are associated with it. I worked with a natural gas trade group in Boulder over the summer (seriously, a fossil fuel group in Boulder, CO) and my boss (a self-proclaimed hippie) had spent the first few years out of school working on solar projects. When I asked if it was fundamentally difficult to switch from solar to gas, his response plainly stated that he wasn't serving any purpose working for a solar group before the technology, financing, and legislation were there to cooperate, and that he feels he is leading a more rewarding career (considering his values) by trying to improve the natural gas market. He even began working in Mexico after their energy deregulation to promote natural gas for power burn instead of relying on old coal and fuel oil power plants. If an industry veteran with environmental conservation values is able to bridge the gap between renewables and natural gas, what gives us the right to blindly polarize the issue?

Also I think we need to realize the purpose that natural gas production serves in the U.S. By no means is it considered to be the optimal solution to our emissions problem. It is typically viewed, in terms of domestic consumption, as a cost-effective and emissions reducing alternative to coal. If we want the technology, financing, and legislation supporting renewable capacity installations, we need to consider natural gas as a bridge to a renewable dominated energy grid. It's not the best, but it's better, and we're getting there.

James Willey

Fracking has to be important moving forward. From an energy reserve standpoint, it guarantees the United States can keep the lights on. This benefit is pretty clear and Mason et al.’s back of the envelope calculations for direct positive impacts are sufficient to this end. In terms of positive externalities, a stable supply chain is the only certain outcome. The CO2 equation is unfortunately complex to the point where it’s difficult to calculate the impact of any single input. The paper also does a nice job getting at this point, but I think they under emphasize the uncertainty in the life cycle aspect of shale gas emission. Extracting this resource, while it has become efficient from a cost perspective, is still a very input intensive process. If reliance on fracked gas grows, the inputs will have to match. Shipping of chemicals, water, and the gas itself where pipeline infrastructure is not yet well established could be, at least on the national scale, a measureable CO2 emitter. That being said, I think hydraulic fracturing and natural gas should be expanded. Many of the quantifiable negative externalities, such as surface water pollution, need to be addressed; but this gets back to last week’s discussion. We have the technology. Proper waste water treatment is available, but there has to be an incentive moving forward to ensure its used. Ideally, a gas market could arise where production and expansion isn’t limited directly but forced costs of remediation will help prevent and internalize negative externalities while controlling the size of the market.

Rainsford Reel

Schrag does an excellent job outlining the positive and negative effects of converting our energy to focus on shale gas rather than coal.The first note I would like to make is on the idea of the externality benefit depending on an increase in energy demand from lower prices. Yes, lower prices would increase demand, but in this arena the demand may increase doubly due to the idea of Jevon's paradox that we have discussed in class. So though the world may soon make the switch from coal to natural gas (reducing emissions) we may use much more natural gas than we would coal because we know that, on the margin, gas is not as detrimental as coal. However, if we fall into Jevon's Paradox could we use so much more gas that the negative effects end up surpassing those of the coal that would've been used?
The second point I would like to make sort of hits on an idea Kinsey set forth about the impact of energy sources taking so long to study versus the speed at which things can be passed on Capitol Hill. Schrag says that the effects of shale gas are "transboundary" in nature. Thus I would argue, that if we begin a movement towards shale gas, the research of its effects immediately begin so that we do not make a policy move, then have to wait two decades to enact another policy change in order to mitigate any negative effects we will see. As you said in class last week it is human nature to create a problem, solve it, and in solving it create a new problem in a continuous cycle. My argument is that if we know new problems will be occurring, why not identify the problem as best we can from the outset so that we already have somewhat of a solution before the problem becomes major?

Will Edmonds

As many have mentioned, our knowledge surrounding the negative externalities of shale gas is limited. However, the benefits identified in the paper suggest significant upside associated with hydraulic fracturing. I am eager to hear the “big ticket” externalities mentioned in the paper when they are finally identified, but have a good feeling about the future of fracking. One reason that hydraulic fracturing is particularly exciting, I think, is the energy independence associated with it. Reducing our reliance on OPEC for imports will greatly improve the price stability of energy markets in the US. A more efficient energy market in the US will also enable us to price in the externalities mentioned in the paper more effectively. Today, so much of energy pricing is based on production and maintaining global market share, that externalities do not factor into the cost per tank of gas for consumers. Used in conjunction with the expanding capability of renewable energy sources, shale fracking will allow the US to move closer and closer to complete energy independence—which might help solve the failure in today’s energy market, resulting from the lack of consideration towards externalities.

nicholas george

This paper is incredibly informative. I wonder to what extent pricing the costs associated with shale development is possible. Without this information, I think policy favors over-extraction which without the monetary data may or may not be a good thing. This reminds me of Conservation Reconsidered in that what we are doing is somewhat irreversible and without knowing the costs well enough to objectively compare them to the benefits then maybe we should error on the side of conservation.

I also wonder how trump's initiatives to make America energy independent is going to affect the production of shale gas. He has already granted the Dakota Pipeline access previously denied by Obama and seems to be really pushing his initiative. He is disarming the EPA, an agency that is suppose to essentially help make known the costs of these actions and prevent those costs. So, I wonder how his actions would affect this cost benefit analysis.

ailyn kelly

I was unprepared and pleasantly surprised to read about the overwhelmingly positive impacts of "fracking" not only on the U.S economy but on the global environment. Before reading The Economics of Shale Gas Development, I associated “fracking” heavily with negative impacts, basing my opinion on a limited understanding of the practice and on an overwhelming negative perception surrounding the process. I found that this article effectively outlined both the positive and negative externalities associated with the process, and after finishing the article I felt that the authors outlined both sides of fracturing fairly well. To me hydraulic fracturing seems, at this point, to be a better or more energy efficient alternative to coal. Like others above, I think that hydraulic fracturing is an important development in energy efficiency but with limited knowledge surrounding the negative effects, it’s hard to predict what problems or issues could arise in the future.

Justin Pedersen

While reading "The Economics of Shale Gas Production," I was drawn to the discussion regarding pipelines. As the paper indicates, more pipelines are needed to transfer refined natural gas due to the proliferation of hydraulic fracturing. While the paper briefly mentions the negative externalities arising from pipelines (i.e. habitat fragmentation, potential contamination of aquifers and other water resources, etc.), I was wondering if we could further explore these ramifications in class. Stemming from Trump’s recent executive orders, pipelines have become a prominent focus of the media, various grassroots organizations, and protestors. Even at W&L, movements have initiated to protest the implementation of such pipelines, as demonstrated by the various “no pipeline” stickers that can be found around campus. While I have only recently gained a considerable knowledge regarding fracking, shale deposits, and the oil and gas industry, I have always been aware of these pipeline debates. Furthermore, being somewhat of an environmentalist, I have generally opposed the installation of such pipelines. However, when I reflect upon my previous opinion, I realize that my disapproval was not factually backed (i.e. I think I simply detested pipelines because they mar natural settings). To a certain extent, I think my initial view reflects how the masses view pipelines; if I asked a protestor who combatted the Dakota pipeline to explain his opinions, I bet he would respond “because pipelines are bad for the environment.” I realize that I’m making an overarching generalization, but I think that this assumption is somewhat rational. Most likely, the average American only retains a surface-level understanding of horizontal drilling and the industry’s positive / negative externalities. In spite of this lack of awareness, it seems as if nearly everyone feels the need to choose a side. Thus, since I’m still unsure whether the benefits of pipelines and the associated hydraulic fracturing / the natural gas industry outweigh the costs, I would like to further discuss this topic in class in order to adopt a concrete opinion regarding this issue.

Liam Curtin

I agree with Sam's first comment above in that the general notion behind energy is that all forms of fossil fuel is conceived as "bad" and that we as a species either need to commit fully to renewable sources or just submit to the harm we do to the environment and shift our problem to future generations. However, after the readings we've done on natural gas, specifically fracking, I believe we just need to adapt to this necessary evil until we can establish and commit to a very long term plan to switch fully to renewable source. The negative effects of coal use on our planet are just to great when compared to that of natural gas that it would seem economically and theoretically sound to switch from a coal dominated system to one that is powered by natural gas. However, I found Rainsford's comment about Jevon's Paradox interesting because it brings into play the hypothetical problems brought on by a completely natural gas system. While I believe the short term solution is natural gas, but we need to start planning for a renewable energy solution in order to better secure our future on this planet.

Another point I would like to bring up comes from my experience growing up in the state of New York. While I only grew up in the city, from about age 15 I started to notice an increase in news stories about the battle over fracking in the western part of the state. Honestly, I was not that interested in the debates for and against fracking, but after learning about it in class these past weeks I have began to wonder why there was much debate about the subject at all when the benefits of natural gas outweigh the use of coal.

Michael Robinson

A few comments thus far have talked about how fracking seems to have been demonized by environmental movements. To an extent, I agree. Hydraulic fracking has certainly made the U.S. more energy independent and is responsible for far less GHG emissions than coal and oil. Since the price of natural gas is cheap, it has driven usage away from dirtier forms of energy such as coal. Therefore, I think it is a necessary bridge between traditional fossil fuels and renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. However, a legitimate concern is whether we end up setting up camp on that bridge instead of reaching our final destination of renewable energy. Another concern with fracking that I was surprised this paper didn’t go into much detail about is the monumental increase in seismic activity in states that frack heavily. This is an environmental concern that shouldn’t be taken lightly considering that we have not been fracking for a very long time (at least in terms of geological time). Therefore, we just don’t know what type of damage can be done with continued long-term hydraulic fracking. This is not to say that we should abandon fracking, just that we should be wary of its potential negative externalities and continue to look for energy solutions that are renewable and have fewer negative externalities.

Chris Shelby

Hydraulic fracking is not a big industry where I'm from, so I never learned much about it in school besides the negatives of fossil fuels. This article paints shale gas in a positive light, something I had never previously seen. It also mentions that this method needs more infrastructure development to grow to replace coal production. Natural gas serves as a better alternative to coal for the majority of our energy due to its smaller environmental impacts, but the real energy efficiency goal for the United States and world is switching to renewable energy. Why put time and money into shale gas fracking when this form of energy will be replaced soon? The answer to this could be that hydraulic fracking becomes the new favorite fossil fuel instead of coal and we use it for decades, slowing progress towards more energy efficient methods. As long as we keep the planet in mind and abstain from developing a love affair with hydraulic fracking, it makes sense to frack more while developing new infrastructure for sustainable energy.

Tommy Concklin

While it is clear that natural gas is clearly a suitable substitute to coal in the US, it is troubling that we won't have a complete understanding of the negative externalities for an extended period of time. Emissions per pound are clearly lower than coal, and the natural gas boom has caused dynamic economic benefits throughout the economy. It is a promising sign to see positive transformation for the economy, but hopefully it does not come at the expense of renewable sources of energy.

Elise George

For how much I’ve learned about the detrimental effects of GHG and global climate change, I haven’t learned about large scale solutions. I’ve always just understood the ways I, as an individual, could contribute, such as solar panels and driving less. I had no idea that through shale gas, we could significantly limit carbon emissions, while also helping make agricultural production cheaper through fertilizer. Additionally, it would decrease unemployment, and lower the price of natural gas.
However, there are some gray areas. I agree with other posts, as I ask the question: would this movement from coal to shale gas actually make a difference in terms of climate change and environmental health? Rather than carbon, it would produce methane which is considered a “worse” GHG. Additionally, due to chemicals in the water, there would be expected water pollution. There is also the fact that coal would be displaced globally. Meaning the GHG would still be produced elsewhere. I am looking forward to discuss how we measure these externalities.

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