Although much of the hydraulic fracturing debate focuses on unseen effects below ground, the surface impacts of drilling and ongoing activity are in plain sight. Operators make their own roads to carry heavy equipment to and from the well site.
They run pipelines, install water-pumping systems, build power grids, and dig storage ponds for wastewater. Each of these activities is a potential point of community conflict, and also adds to the well’s operating costs. Everyone stands to gain from emerging technologies that increase production efficiency and reduce surface impacts.
Accordingly, the U.S. Secretary of Energy Advisory Board’s natural gas subcommittee in 2011 recommended 20 measures to help shale gas producers build and keep public support for their surging industry. The subcommittee’s final report urged wider adoption of technologies that reduce water use, prevent atmospheric emissions, protect ground water, and minimize disruption of the local environment.