Events & Media


A Speaker Series:
Policy/Economic Analysis of
Sustainable Chemical/Material Technologies

"To Frack or Not to Frack?
A discussion of some key economic aspects of hydraulic fracturing"

Charles Mason
H. A. "Dave" True, Jr. Professor in Petroleum and Natural Gas Economics
University of Wyoming

Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015
11:30 - 12:30
Bren Hall 1424

In the past decade, innovations in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have fueled a boom in the production of natural gas (as well as oil) from geological formations – primarily deep shales – in which hydrocarbon production was previously unprofitable. Impacts on U.S. fossil fuel production and the U.S. economy more broadly have been transformative, generating important benefits to consumers and producers alike. The widespread use of this new extractive technique also has great potential to expand the role of natural gas in U.S. energy markets, which presents an opportunity to curtail the use of coal and thereby lower greenhouse gas emissions. But for these benefits to be realized, this new source of natural gas must find its way to market. In turn, this will require expansion of the existing pipeline infrastructure; working against this expansion is the perceived phenomenon that production from fracked wells declines very rapidly over the first 12 months of a well's life. The boom has been accompanied by concerns about negative externalities, including impacts to air and water associated with the chemicals used as injectants during the fracking process. I discuss information on the role played by these injectants, their toxicity, and issues linked to “produced water,” which flows back from the well after the deposit is fracked. I also discuss the implications of “trade secrets” provisions that can shield firms from disclosure requirements.

Charles (Chuck) Mason is the H. A. "Dave" True, Jr. Chair in Petroleum and Natural Gas Economics in the Department of Economics and Finance at the University of Wyoming. He is an internationally known scholar who specializes in Environmental and Resource Economics with over 60 publications in peer-reviewed journals. He served as the managing editor of the top international journal in the field of Environmental and Resource Economics, the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, from 2006 to 2011.  He is currently an associate editor of the European Economic Review, co-editor of the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists and joint editor-in-chief of Strategic Behavior in the Environment. Chuck earned a double B.A. in Economics and Mathematics in 1977 and a Ph.D. in Economics in 1983, all at the University of California at Berkeley. He was been a visiting academic at a variety of top international universities, including the University of Cambridge (2003); the University of Oxford (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012); the Venice International University, Ca’ Foscari (2013); and the Toulouse School of Economics (2013). He has been on the faculty at the University of Wyoming since 1982.


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