Shale Gas Reports Call for “More Research” and “Better Communication”

On May 1, the Council of Canadian Academies released a report by a multidisciplinary panel of experts who considered the state of knowledge of potential environmental impacts from the exploration, extraction, and development of Canada’s shale gas resources. The report does not address the safety, nor the economic benefits of development. As stated in the press release: ” It reviews the use of new and conventional technologies in shale gas extraction, and examines several issues of concern including potential impacts on groundwater and surface water, greenhouse gas emissions, cumulative land disturbance, and human health.” The report concludes that suitability of shale gas development depends on regional context because of Canada’s different geographies, geologies, and ecologies. Further, it states that scientific understanding is not yet sufficient nor conclusive. The Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction in Canada is at: http://www.scienceadvice.ca/uploads/eng/assessments%20and%20publications%20and%20news%20releases/shale%20gas/shalegas_fullreporten.pdf; a press release and summaries are available at: http://www.scienceadvice.ca/en/assessments/completed/shale-gas.aspx (English) and http://sciencepourlepublic.ca/fr/assessments/completed/shale-gas.aspx (French).

In the U.K. in early May, a Select Committee of the House of Lords tabled a report, The Economic Impact on UK Energy Policy of Shale Gas and Oil. The report examines the U.S. experience, and discusses U.K. environmental impacts, job impacts, and climate change implications. It concludes: “We consider that the risks to human health and the environment are low if shale development is properly regulated, with the improvements we recommend. We welcome the community benefit schemes announced by the industry which, if well-targeted, could play a role in winning public acceptance. We also recommend that the industry improves its presentation and communication skills and puts across more convincingly the economic and employment gains shale development can bring to areas like Lancashire.” The official summary of the recommendations is at: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/lords-select/economic-affairs-committee/news/report-publication/; the Report is at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201314/ldselect/ldeconaf/172/172.pdf.

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