Experts from the Academy of Medicine, Engineering & Science of Texas (TAMEST), together with experts from environmental organizations, the oil and gas industry and state agencies conducted a meta-study of the peer-reviewed scientific literature concerning the effects of shale oil and gas development in Texas. With Texas being the US leader in oil and gas production (84% of Texas counties produce oil and natural gas, accounting for a total of 1.1 billion barrels of oil in 2016), such a review is extremely relevant, and lessons can be drawn for other states.
What the study shows:
- Earthquakes have increased from an average of 2 per year to about 12-15 a year. Some, however, as the study indicates, "are linked to wastewater disposal from oil and gas development, not with hydraulic fracturing".
- 2 species are known to be threatened by oil and gas development: the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard and the Lesser Prairie Chicken.
- There is an increase in emissions from shale development, however it is due to the mere rise in numbers rather than the nature of the shale resource.
- There is land contamination; however, as 95% of the land is privately owned, data is hard to compile in any standardized manner.
- There is water contamination, caused most often by leaks and spills on or near ground surface.
- There is significant road damage caused by oil and gas operations, to an amount estimated between $1.5 and $2 billion a year.
- A somewhat unexpected consequence is that rural crashes involving commercial vehicles have increased over 75% in some drilling regions in Texas.
Overall, communities in shale regions are concerned with the negative effects on their traffic, noise and environmental pollution; on the other hand, they recognize that "shale oil and gas development primarily contributes positively to local, regional and state economies", bringing up the value of property and bringing in more money for schools and medical services.