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Title page for ETD etd-12042017-125517


Type of Document Dissertation
Author Dundon, Leah Anne
Author's Email Address leahagregor@gmail.com
URN etd-12042017-125517
Title Managing Hydraulic Fracturing: Approaches to Assessing and Addressing Transportation Impacts
Degree PhD
Department Environmental Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Mark Abkowitz Committee Chair
Christopher Serkin Committee Member
Craig Philip Committee Member
Janey Camp Committee Member
Keywords
  • hydraulic fracturing
  • fracfocus
  • local government
  • spatial assessment
  • fracking
  • fracing
Date of Defense 2017-10-12
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
Advances in technologies associated with hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling in the first decade of this century have enabled a massive energy transformation in the United States. For the first time, carbon emissions in the U.S. have decreased steadily while economic growth has increased, largely because of the switch from coal to natural gas made possible by hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. Also because of hydraulic fracturing, the U.S. is now the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas. The rapidity with which the nation experienced these changes saw communities grappling with oil and gas operations on a scale many had never experienced, bringing lucrative economic opportunities as well as challenges, especially to local and rural transportation infrastructure. Tools and methodologies are needed to assist communities, and newly emerging tools need data-driven analyses of their utility. This work represents the first comprehensive national survey of state regulators on the effectiveness of FracFocus, a tool developed by regulators to address chemical disclosure in hydraulic fracturing operations. The study provided needed visibility to the (often novel) ways states were using FracFocus to augment state regulatory programs with important potential for sharing valuable approaches between states. Important data and information emerging from the FracFocus study was then leveraged to develop a methodological approach for local planners addressing impacts from oil and gas development. With a focus on local transportation infrastructure, the methods developed were applied in a case study to the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale Oil Play in Mississippi, and included the views of local operators, a perspective largely missing from the literature. Finally, this work provides a legal and policy framework for local planners to better understand potential approaches and challenges to maintaining transportation infrastructure in the face of large scale hydraulic fracturing. Local communities have met with significant obstacles when attempting to regulate oil and gas development from an environmental or policy perspective, but local regulations tailored to address infrastructure impacts are more likely to be successful.
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