On June 19, the Academy of Medicine, Engineering, and Science of Texas (“TAMEST”) issued its report titled Environmental and Community Impacts of Shale Development in Texas. The report includes several noteworthy findings, including that:
- Potentially-induced, felt seismicity in Texas to date has been associated with Class II disposal wells, not with hydraulic fracturing operations;
- Direct fracturing into drinking water zones has not been observed in Texas, and such a result is unlikely given the depth separation between oil-bearing formations and drinking water zones; an
- Shale development “primarily contributes positively to local, regional, and state economies.”
In addition to the above, the report includes other findings and recommendations on geology and earthquake activity, land resources, air quality, water quantity and quality, transportation, and economic and social impacts.
Other of the report’s recommendations call on the industry to more closely track the environmental and ecological impact of shale operations, and make information surrounding shale development more transparent. For example, as to land resources, the report suggests that “baseline land and habitat conditions at the oil and gas play level should be characterized, and changes to wildlife populations and vegetation should be tracked over time where there are opportunities on both private and public lands,” and that “the existing, nonproprietary information about land impacts of shale development that is collected and evaluated by multiple state and federal agencies should be assembled and made available online to the public.”
The report is the culmination of the efforts of TAMEST’s Shale Task Force, which was convened in 2015 and consists of multiple academic and scientific representatives from institutions and organizations throughout Texas. Read the report in full