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. 

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. 

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.

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.  

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.  

First-year PhD students, Max Harleman (Pennsylvania) and Insik Bang (South Korea), decided to attend GSPIA based on a common interest to study energy and environmental issues. The Energy and Environment program at GSPIA provides a pathway for students to conduct rigorous research on salient environmental and energy policy challenges. 

As part of the Shale Gas Governance Center fall lecture series, GSPIA alumnus and Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale gave a talk on “Impact Fees: working as promised?” covering the history and implementation of impact fees on shale gas extraction.

GSPIA will host Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale (MPA ’97) at 11:45 p.m., Wed., Sept. 20 at the Twentieth Century Club (4201 Bigelow Blvd.). In this special talk, Mr. DePasquale will discuss the “Impact Fee” on unconventional gas wells in Pennsylvania.

Earlier this year, Alex Austin, a second year MPA student, had the opportunity to intern with the World Wildlife Fund. Originally published in GSPIA Perspectives, the following is an excerpt from his reflection on his experience.

In addition to a full-time course load, I spent the Spring of 2016 working remotely as the Energy Intern for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Northern Great Plains office located in Bozeman, Montana. As the energy intern, I was tasked with researching the effects of oil development on split estate surface owners residing in the Williston Basin region of Western North Dakota. The Basin is home to the Bakken oil-bearing formation which stretches from the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan in Canada to parts of Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. 

By Assistant Professor Jeremy Weber and Andrew Earle

Pennsylvania has a long legacy of natural gas drilling. One unfortunate aspect of the legacy is a host of abandoned shallow gas wells throughout the state, some of which likely leak gases or liquids harmful to animals, plants, or people. This raises the question of the fate of the more than 10,000 unconventional natural gas wells that have been drilled in the state over the last decade, with more drilled each day.  Read more.

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