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Environment / Sustainability

CSU experts talk natural gas, fracking on Capitol Hill

April 25, 2013

Professors provided scientific, technologic and policy information to U.S. Senate and House staffers on April 25.

Bill Ritter Jr.Former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter Jr., director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University, led a panel of faculty experts from CSU in a Congressional briefing in Washington, DC, Thursday on issues related to natural gas extraction and hydraulic fracturing.

The theme of the briefing was Getting Natural Gas Right, and focused on the work to find solutions – both technological and policy-related – that will ensure that natural gas and oil are being extracted in environmentally sound ways throughout the nation.

“As an academic and scientific enterprise, Colorado State does not take any side in the debate over gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing, instead preferring the role of the neutral broker,” explained William Farland, Vice President for Research at CSU. “This briefing is intended to shed additional light on the challenges surrounding the complex area of oil and gas production, and the credible, multi-disciplinary solutions Colorado State is providing.”

Policy, geology, water, energy

Ritter discussed the role that policy at the state level can play to ensure that oil and gas extraction is undertaken in a way that protects the air, land, water, wildlife and communities.

The other presenters on the panel were Dr. Sally Sutton, associate professor in the CSU Department of Geosciences, who has done significant work with shale deposits that are at the center of the expanding horizon for natural gas; Dr. Ken Carlson, associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who discussed his work at CSU’s Colorado Water Institute to better describe and model the interactions between groundwater, surface water and human activities such as oil and gas development; and Dr. Bryan Willson, professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of CSU’s Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory. Willson discussed a variety of technological solutions related to emissions from the natural gas extraction process, including some that the Engines Lab has been instrumental in developing.

Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado provided opening remarks for the panel discussion, which was attended by numerous U.S. Senate and House of Representatives staffers.

“The policy makers who joined us today were eager to learn about the scientific details behind oil and gas extraction, included so-called fracking, and sincerely interested in the work that we are doing at Colorado State,” Ritter said after the briefing. “I think we helped them understand not only the multi-dimensional challenges facing the oil and gas industry but the whole spectrum of solutions that can be brought to the table for the good of both the environment and the industry.”