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Environmental Implications of Shale Gas Extraction


ennsylvania has a rich history in energy resources, from the first oil well to centuries of coal mining. Recently, Pennsylvania has been central to a national discussion of the potential and the challenges associated with domestic natural gas from shale reserves in the Marcellus and Utica formations. Carnegie Mellon University’s Civil and Environmental Engineering faculty and students are actively engaged in research to understand this new resource and the environmental implications for the region.

Understanding the Economics In 2006 the price of gas was $8.00 per thousand cubic feet, high enough to spur the development of new technologies to unlock natural gas in shale reserves. Deep shale reserves hold a vast volume of gas, but reaching and releasing the gas requires the new techniques of directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing, adding to the cost for extraction. With the current lower gas prices, development has slowed. New technologies again may enable economical extraction of these resources. Dr. Kelvin Gregory (professor, CEE) explains, “We’re trying to evolve new technology that enables the economically and environmentally sustainable production of natural gas. Can we do this cheaper? Can we do this more efficiently?”

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CMU CEE Summer 2012 Newsletter  
CMU CEE Summer 2012 Newsletter  

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Newsletter - Summer 2012