Book Talk: The Shale Dilemma

Next week, Thursday, 19 July 2018 (1pm), there will be a book talk titled "The Shale Dilemma: A Global Perspective on Fracking and Shale Development" held by Shanti Gamper-Rabindran (University of Pittsburgh). The event will take place in the Fakultätssitzungssaal (Sowi).

Why do different countries choose to pursue, postpone and eschew shale altogether? Countries with policies to address energy security challenges (even though these challenges are unresolved) and with protective rights for local communities have enjoyed greater political space debate the pros and cons of shale. They eschew or postpone shale or proceed with more protections for local communities. Countries that perceive energy crisis and that have limited protection for local communities pursue shale, with costs to local communities.

How have shale development proceeded? Without a doubt, the shale boom helped cut US oil and gas imports and transformed the US into a projected gas exporter. However, shale extraction and infrastructure compete with onshore economic and living activities. Governments have yet to put in place full set of complementary policies to protect local communities, public health, the environment and the climate. These gaps are more prominent in US states without diversified economies and in China and Argentina. While the US enjoys mechanisms to broaden benefits from shale – e.g. shale boom reduced gas prices to benefit consumers – nonresidents’ ownership of mineral rights particularly in western states limit benefits to local communities.

The lack of transparency curb society’s ability to evaluate the shale dilemma. The dearth of baseline data and monitoring obstruct the full assessment of shale impacts in the US, but a growing number of studies highlight adverse impacts of boom-bust cycles on the local economy, public health and environmental impacts, and long-term taxpayer liability from unplugged wells. In China, Argentina and South Africa where governments failed to disclose the sums of public funds earmarked or directed for shale infrastructure and subsidies, the public is not able to probe the expected returns from investments into shale relative other energy resources.

The Introduction chapter can be downloaded for free from:

Shanti Gamper-Rabindran is an Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh and the contributing editor to The Shale Dilemma. She organized two international environmental and energy conferences and curated the comparative study of countries’ energy choices. Her publications in economics, law and environmental journals address environmental, energy, public health and economic development issues. Her work has been featured in a Congressional hearing and on National Public Radio. She was selected as the faculty fellow in sustainability at the University of Pittsburgh (2017) and elected a member of policy council of the Association of Public Policy and Management (2018-22). She served as a Bley Stein Visiting Professor at the Arava Institute and as a Visiting Associate Professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Her training is interdisciplinary: PhD in Economics (MIT), MSc in Environmental Management (Oxford), BA Jurisprudence (Oxford), BA Economics and Environmental Science (Harvard). Her work and contact are posted at:

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