Have you been wondering about the environmental impact associated with our rapid development of shale gas as a fuel source? This Web Forum takes a unique approach compared to other joint AIChE - AWMA Web Forums focused on emerging regulatory issues/compliance. It provides the latest research results regarding air quality implications of shale gas development, from speakers who are on the cutting-edge of understanding the characteristics of air emissions from shale gas. Two recent studies from the Barnet Shale play are discussed.
- One assessed air quality in an area of active shale gas development through four study components: air toxics ambient monitoring; wellpad-specific point sources testing; dispersion modeling; and a health assessment. Results were compared to both short and long-term health-based screening levels, to guide public safety decision-making around setback provisions, which limit how close natural gas well pads and compressor stations may be to residences and other publically accessible locations.
- The second effort computed life-cycle GHG emissions from the life cycle of gas production, processing, transmission and use for power generation. Shale and conventional gas were compared to coal and other electricity generation technologies. During the study, oil and gas sector activity factors, emission source characteristics and VOC emissions inventory data were translated to methane and CO2 emissions through a methodology that can be applied to other shale gas plays.
Together these studies inform policy, regulation, and practice in this rapidly expanding area; and make an interesting Web Forum for regulatory agency, research, consulting, and corporate decision makers.
Garvin Heath is a senior scientist in the Strategic Energy Analysis Center of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. At NREL he specializes in analyzing the environmental impacts of energy systems using the tools of life cycle assessment, air quality modeling and sustainability analysis. He received his PhD in Energy and Resources from the Energy and Resources Group of the University of California Berkeley in 2006. He also holds an MS degree in Environmental Engineering from UC Berkeley.
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