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Energy, Security, and Climate

CFR experts examine the science and foreign policy surrounding climate change, energy, and nuclear security.

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Showing posts for "Environment"

Energy, Industry, and the Countryside

by Michael Levi

I’ve argued frequently that shale gas and tight oil development can be done safely, given the right practices and the right rules to ensure that those are followed. Over the past month, as I’ve traveled and talked to people about The Power Surge, I’ve heard one powerful countervailing sentiment several times: Even if fracking is done right, aren’t we talking about the industrialization of the countryside? And is that really something we should accept? Read more »

Three Graphs That Resource Pessimists Don’t Want You to See

by Blake Clayton

My last post noted that inflation-adjusted natural resource prices—even for exhaustible resources—tend to fall over time. This trend surprises people who think that prices are doomed to rise indefinitely because it gets more and more expensive to mine/grow/pump these resources in larger volumes over time. So what’s behind the downtrend? Read more »

Could the North American Shale Boom Happen Elsewhere?

by Blake Clayton

The dramatic takeoff in oil and gas production in the United States and Canada over the last half decade has left many people asking whether a similar boom will happen in other countries. It’s a good question. To answer it, you have to start by identifying what critical factors enabled the boom to happen here, then figure out whether these same enabling factors exist elsewhere. Read more »

An Enlightening Study on Shale Gas and Water Quality

by Michael Levi

A team at Resources For the Future (RFF) led by Sheila Olmstead has a neat new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that takes a rigorous look at water pollution due to shale gas development in Pennsylvania. (Hat tip: John Quigley.) The team collected thousands of data points measuring shale gas activity and water quality across a wide geographic area and more-than-ten-year span, and then used careful statistical analysis to test a series of hypotheses about how shale gas development might have affected water quality. What’s particularly interesting about this study is that it doesn’t require physical assumptions. It can also shed light on the cumulative impacts of large-scale shale gas development, going beyond analysis at the level of single pads and wells. Read more »

The Shale Boom Won’t Be Repeated on Federal Lands

by Michael Levi
Gray wolves are seen nearing a Bison in Yellowstone National Park in this undated handout photograph released on February 21, 2008. Gray wolves are seen nearing a Bison in Yellowstone National Park in this undated handout photograph released on February 21, 2008 (Ho New/Courtesy Reuters).

A visit to Yellowstone National Park last week has me thinking about federal lands. In the fight over whether the U.S. oil and gas boom is happening because of or despite President Obama’s policies, perhaps the most commonly heard fact is this: oil production is surging on non-federal lands but is down on lands controlled by Washington. This observation, many claim, shows that oil and gas production is up despite U.S. policy to thwart it – and a policy reversal would send oil and gas output far higher. Read more »

Revisiting a Major Methane Study

by Michael Levi

The ongoing fight over whether shale gas operations are leaking dangerous amounts of methane – a question that many have called critical to determining whether shale gas is good or bad – has suffered from a paucity of data. That’s why a much talked about study, authored by thirty scientists (mostly from NOAA) and published in early February, made such big waves: it was the first (and remains the only) study to estimate shockingly high emissions based on actual observations in the field (data was collected in Colorado in 2008). Read more »

Guest Post: Michael Wara on the Environmental Consequences of the Supreme Court Health Care Decision

by Michael Levi

Since the Supreme Court ruled last week on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there has been a stream of speculation that the ruling will deeply undermine future federal efforts to strengthen environmental regulation. I asked Michael Wara, an associate professor of law at Stanford University and one of the most thoughtful environmental law experts around, for his take:
Read more »

Safe Fracking Looks Cheap

by Michael Levi

The public battle over fracking tends to emphasize extremes: some say that shale gas can’t be developed safely; others say that new regulation would kill the industry. But a third set of observers (myself included) has claimed that smart new rules would boost costs only marginally, while building public acceptance for drilling. A new study from the International Energy Agency (IEA) adds serious support to this middle way. Read more »