NEWS – June 2015 – Oil & Gas Development & Water, Deer Valley, Utah

WATER PERSPECTIVE ON OIL & GAS DEVELOPMENT IN THE US

AGWT Executive Director Andrew Stone was an invited presenter at the SIPES Annual Conference held in Deer Valley, Utah. The Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists (SIPES) is a national organization designed for the independent or consulting professional earth scientist. Members include geologists, engineers, geophysicists, geochemists, and other earth scientists.

The AGWT presentation was titled Public Perception of Environmental Issues Related to Oil & Gas. When it comes to public opinion, perception is reality.  The public’s perception of the oil & gas industry is not always positive. The presentation, given from the perspective of an organization dedicated to aquifer protection, addressed issues such as:

  • What have been the principal influences on public opinion about “fracking” and the environment? 
  • What have been the triggers for the generally negative public attitude about the technology?
  • What is the long-term role for fossil fuels within the mix of energy sources? 
  • How can the public be informed about well-pad water treatment and management strategies?
  • What is the industry’s view on making the case for “social license to operate?

            Over the last five years the AGWT has been involved with the debate over the environmental impacts related to the development of oil & gas from shales by using a combination of directional drilling technology and hydraulic fracturing. The AGWT has organized information-exchange conferences about water, oil & gas in Texas, California, North Carolina, and Massachusetts and has made invited presentations in Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Nevada, South Dakota, Colorado and Wisconsin.

             There is a plethora of information and misinformation about the environmental and economic impacts of “fracking” technology and the related issue of waste-water disposal.  The AGWT has taken on the role of being an objective broker of information about the issues.  While “renewables” are growing in importance for energy generation, fossil fuels are likely to continue to supply the majority of transport fuel and electrical generation needs for several decades.  Given that reality, it makes sense to keep pressure on the oil & gas industry to follow protocols and best practices to minimize environmental risks.  To that end, hydrogeologists need to be involved working with petroleum geologists on pre-drilling risk assessments and the identification of “no-go” areas.