DOE Releases Final Subcommittee Report on Shale Gas Regulation

report coverThe Shale Gas Subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) is a panel of seven experts appointed by Secretary of Energy Steven Chu earlier this year with the task of creating a list of industry “best practices” for shale gas drillers. The SEAB produced an initial 90-day report in August with a list of 20 recommendations (see this MDN story on the report). The SEAB’s second and final 90-day report, in draft form, has just been released and will be voted on next week (a copy is available for download below).

The first report focused on crafting recommendations that would lessen the environmental impact of shale gas drilling so that, according to the SEAB, shale gas drilling can flourish with public support (MDN’s interpretation). But in order to do that, certain best practices and standards must be adopted by federal, state, local and industry participants. This second report focuses on how and when to implement those 20 recommendations.

From the Executive Summary of the final report:

The Subcommittee recognizes that successful implementation of each of its recommendations will require cooperation among and leadership by federal, state and local entities. In its initial report, the Subcommittee called for a process of continuous improvement and said: “This process should involve discussions and other collaborative efforts among companies involved in shale gas production (including service companies), state and federal regulators, and affected communities and public interest groups.”

The Subcommittee also believes it has a responsibility to assess and report progress in implementing the recommendations in its initial report. Too often advisory committee recommendations are ignored, not because of disagreement with substance, but because the implementation path is unclear or because of the press of more immediate matters on dedicated individuals who are over extended. The Subcommittee does not wish to see this happen to its recommendation, because it believes citizens expect prompt action. Absent action there will be little credible progress in toward reducing in the environmental impact of shale gas production, placing at risk the future of the enormous potential benefits of this domestic energy resource. At this early stage, it is reasonable to assess if initial, constructive, steps are underway; there is no expectation that any of the recommendations could be completely implemented in the three months since the Subcommittee issued its initial report.

And so the SEAB breaks their 20 recommendations into three groups in the final report:

  1. Recommendations ready for implementation, primarily by federal agencies;
  2. Recommendations ready for implementation, primarily by states;
  3. Recommendations that require new partnerships and mechanisms for success.

The final report also contains the original 20 recommendations in the appendix. The SEAB official website is: //www.shalegas.energy.gov/.