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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

NETL to launch fracking lab; are there other pathways to change?

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the National Energy Technology Laboratory will launch a working shale oil and gas laboratory, which will be used to test technologies that could get more oil and gas out of each well and simultaneously lessen the environmental impact of the industry.

Among NETL's interests is the "holy grail" of waterless fracking using liquified natural gas. As the story notes:

Companies have successfully fracked with carbon dioxide, nitrogen and propane. But those are expensive and often impractical.
I've argued - repeatedly - that full-cost accounting of all of the risks and costs associated with the use of water and chemicals in fracking may make the business case for the so-called "futuristic" technologies and get them deployed a lot sooner than under the current business-as-usual paradigm. And that the same accounting should drive the development of regulations that encourage the growth of these technologies.

Investing in technological development is an important and necessary function of government. But a new paradigm is needed to drive technology in the direction of sustainability.  How much more quickly could we reach NETL's goals if business decisionmaking and regulatory development were fully aligned with them?

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