DOE subcommittee to recommend fracking safety

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu formed a subcommittee of industry, environmental and state regulatory experts to make recommendations to improve the safety and environmental performance of natural gas hydraulic fracturing from shale formations.

The group—part of the Secretary of Energy’s Advisory Board--will review and work to identify steps that can be taken to improve the procedure’s safety. Recommendations are due within 90 days of the group starting its work. Within six months of starting, the group is expected to develop advice on practices for shale extraction to protect human and environmental health.

Group members include: 

  • John Deutch, institute professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the chair of the group;
  • Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund,
  • Daniel Yergin, chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates,
  • Kathleen McGinty, former secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection,
  • Stephen Holditch, department head of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University,
  • Susan Tierney, managing principal of Analysis Group, and
  • Mark Zoback, professor of Geophysics at Stanford University.

President Obama told Chu to form the subcommittee as part of the President’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future, which aims to reduce the U.S.’s dependence on oil and increase the use of renewable energy sources.

Hydraulic fracturing is a process in which chemicals are injected into underground shale formations to open natural gas pockets. The chemicals are suspected of sometimes entering groundwater supplies.

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