Wednesday, October 10, 2012

GAO Reports Released on the Environmental and Public Health Risks of Oil and Gas Shale Development

Today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released two reports related to hydrofracking and shale development in the U.S..  While neither report makes any recommendations, both have been released in a timely manner as states such as New York are currently weighing the environmental and public health risks associated with the development of shale resources.  

  • Unconventional Oil and Gas Development: Key Environmental and Public Health Requirements, GAO-12-874 (Sept. 5, 2012). In the 241-page report available here, the  
    GAO was asked to review environmental and public health requirements for unconventional oil and gas development and (1) describe federal requirements; (2) describe state requirements; (3) describe additional requirements that apply on federal lands; and (4) identify challenges, if any, that federal and state agencies reported facing in regulating oil and gas development from unconventional reservoirs. GAO identified and analyzed federal laws, state laws in six selected states (Colorado, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wyoming), and interviewed federal and state officials and representatives from industry, environmental, and public health organizations.
  • Oil and Gas: Information on Shale Resources, Development, and Environmental and Public Health Risks, GAO 12-732 (Sept. 5, 2012).  In the 70-page report available here, the 
    GAO was asked to determine what is known about the (1) size of shale oil and gas resources and the amount produced from 2007 through 2011 and (2) environmental and public health risks associated with the development of shale oil and gas. GAO reviewed estimates and data from federal and nongovernmental organizations on the size and production of shale oil and gas resources. GAO also interviewed federal and state regulatory officials, representatives from industry and environmental organizations, oil and gas operators, and researchers from academic institutions.

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