Smart Planning for Oil and Gas Development
The recent 2018 IPCC Special Report warns of the dire need to transition away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible. Despite the Report’s urgent call to move away from fossil fuels rapidly, additional oil and gas development seems inevitable, at least over the short term (the next 10-20 years). If new oil and gas development is going to happen, we can at least make sure that it is done smarter than it has historically been done, to minimize greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as well as other more conventional environmental risks. Smart oil and gas planning and development can help shrink the environmental footprint, achieve greater efficiencies in the use of water and other resources, and significantly reduce emissions of GHGs, especially methane, which remains one of the most intractable problems associated with oil and gas development. Solving the methane emissions problem is especially important because methane is estimated to be as much as 72 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas when calculated over a twenty year period. The key to smart development is aggressive, proactive planning directed by regulators in advance of actual development.
This seminar explores the elements of a smart and comprehensive planning framework for oil and gas development that is particularly sensitive to potential climate impacts. This includes how best to manage drilling operations, water use and disposal, power needs, air emissions, and traffic. It also includes addressing the respective roles of government regulators, industry, affected communities, and other interested stakeholders in the planning and post-planning management process. Finally, a discussion about the appropriate role of environmental impact assessment, cost-benefit analysis of development proposals and reasonable alternatives, monitoring of the actual impacts from development, and adaptive management of land, air, and water resources is warranted.
Mark Squillace is the Raphael J. Moses Professor of Natural Resources Law at the University of Colorado Law School. He joined the Colorado Law faculty in 2005 and served as the Director of Colorado’s Natural Resources Law Center from 2005 to 2013. Before joining the Colorado law faculty, Professor Squillace taught at the University of Toledo College of Law where he was named the Charles Fornoff Professor of Law and Values. Professor Squillace has also taught at the University of Wyoming College of Law where he served a three-year term as the Winston S. Howard Professor of Law. He is a former Fulbright scholar and the author or co-author of numerous articles and books on natural resources and environmental law.