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Major: Energy & Environment

Energy and Environment explores the politics and policies of the worldwide energy industry, examining ways to meet global energy needs in a sustainable, environmentally conscious way. Pittsburgh is a global epicenter of one of the biggest energy revolutions of the 21st century – the shale gas boom. New technologies like “fracking” are making billions of dollars of natural gas accessible to world markets for the first time, generating thousands of new jobs from Europe to North America. 

Upcoming Events
Featured Video
Climate Change, Social Stress & Migration: Implications for Conflict & Cooperation

“Climate Change, Social Stress & Migration: Implications for Conflict & Cooperation,” featured Dr. Susan F. Martin from Georgetown University and Dr. Daniel W. Bromley from the University of Wisconsin, on February 9, 2015.  This presentation illustrated that, while we have limited ability to control climate change, we can control how it affects vulnerable nations. 

Recent News
January 19, 2018

Energy Policy, a leading academic journal, recently published an article by GSPIA associate professor Jeremy Weber and PhD student Max Harleman. The piece, which explores how natural resource ownership affects local financial gains, presents a typology for understanding different ownership regimes (private-absentee, public-absentee, private-local, and public-local). The article was largely informed by Harleman's fieldwork in the UK, where he spent several weeks during summer 2016 UK talking to key stakeholders about that the policies and politics of shale gas development there. 

January 09, 2018

The Shale Gas Governance Center will host guest speaker Daniel Raimi at Noon, Wed., Feb. 28 in Wesley Posvar Hall, room 3911. During his talk, Mr. Raimi will discuss his recently released book, The Fracking DebateMr. Raimi is a senior research associate for Resources for the Future. From 2013 to 2016, Mr. Raimi traveled to every major oil and gas producing region of the United States to investigate the local impacts of increased domestic production. Along the way, he met hundreds of people and gathered dozens of stories from the oilfield. 

January 09, 2018

Recognizing the potential public and environmental danger of improperly plugged and unplugged oil and gas wells, Pennsylvania established the Orphan Well Plugging Fund in 1992 to support the plugging of wells for which there is no operator that can be held financially responsible. Supported by fees on new oil and gas well permits, the Fund allows the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to plug roughly 25 to 50 orphan wells annually, less than one percent of the nearly 6,400 orphan wells currently in Pennsylvania.

December 19, 2017

The Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation and the Pitt Sustainability Task Force has awarded a grant to GSPIA Associate Professor Jeremy Weber to study the costs associated with abandoned oil and gas wells. In this pilot study, Weber, and Assistant Professor Daniel Bain, Pitt’s Department of Geology and environmental Science, will examine the long-term effects of conventional oil and gas wells on property values and real estate development in Washington County, Pennsylvania.  

November 30, 2017

Dr. Bradford L. Barham from the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin Madison gave a talk on “Lessons for sustainable agricultural policies from the US bioenergy boom that wasn’t.” Barham offered important insights into the lessons learned on the necessity of supplementing projections done in a lab with actual field research.  According to Barham, in the late 2000s there was a major bioenergy push, driven by the high price of oil at that time; certain scientists and policymakers believed that cellulosic fuel, ethanol made from plant fibers, was the future.  

Faculty Research
Broadening Benefits from Natural Resource Extraction: Housing Values and Taxation of Natural Gas Wells as Property

Jeremy G. Weber, J. Wesley Burnett, Irene M. Xiarchos

We study the effects of the property tax base shock caused by natural gas drilling in the Barnett Shale in Texas–a state that taxes oil and gas wells as property. Over the boom and bust in drilling, housing appreciation closely followed the oil and gas property tax base, which expanded the total tax base by 23 percent at its height. The expansion led to a decline in property tax rates while maintaining or increasing revenues to schools.

 
 

Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
3601 Wesley W. Posvar Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260