ANN ARBORUniversity of Michigan researchers are conducting a detailed study of the potential environmental and societal effects of hydraulic fracturing, the controversial natural gas drilling process known as fracking.
In hydraulic fracturing, large amounts of water, sand and chemicals are injected deep underground to break apart rock and free trapped natural gas. Though the process has been used for decades, recent technical advances have helped unlock vast stores of previously inaccessible natural gas, resulting in a fracking boom.
Now U-M researchers are working with government regulators, oil and gas industry representatives and environmental groups to explore seven critical areas related to the use of hydraulic fracturing in Michigan: human health, the environment and ecology, economics, technology, public perception, law and policy, and geology/hydrodynamics.
Detailed technical reports on the seven subject areas are to be released early next year for public comment.
"While there have been numerous scientific studies about hydraulic fracturing in the United States, none have been conducted with a focus on Michigan," said John Callewaert, director of integrated assessment at U-M's Graham Sustainability Institute, which is overseeing the study.
The research teams kicked off the first phase of their two-year research project last month with support from four university units: the Graham Sustainability Institute, the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, the Energy Institute and the Risk Science Center. Industry representatives, nongovernmental organizations, state government officials, academic experts and other stakeholders are providing input.
During a policy address on energy and the environment today at Michigan State University's W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, Gov. Rick Snyder noted that the state will be a partner in the U-M-led fracking study.
"We're going to be a partner with
|Contact: Jim Erickson|
University of Michigan