Full Title: Addressing the Environmental Risks from Shale Gas Development
Author(s): Mark Zoback, Saya Kitasei, and Brad Copithorne
Publisher(s): Worldwatch Institute
Publication Date: 7/2010



The rapid development of shale gas resources in the past few years has already dramatically affected U.S. energy markets—lowering energy prices and carbon dioxide emissions—and could offer an affordable source of low-carbon energy to reduce dependence on coal and oil.1 However, the development of shale gas has been linked to a range of local environmental problems, generating a public backlash that threatens to bring production to a halt in some regions. While hydraulic fracturing in particular has been the focus of much controversy, our analysis indicates that the most significant environmental risks associated with the development of shale gas are similar to those associated with conventional onshore gas, including gas migration and groundwater contamination due to faulty well construction, blowouts, and above-ground leaks and spill of waste water and chemicals used during drilling and hydraulic fracturing.