Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

Oil and Gas

Environmental issues associated with oil and gas exploration have gained national attention in the United States as unconventional drilling and hydraulic fracturing expand the geographic distribution, scale, and intensity of production. 

This encroachment of oil and gas development into human and ecological habitats requires community engagement and meaningful discussions about the protection of important natural and cultural resources. Effective reporting and disclosure regimes can help regulators and industry identify and mitigate environmental, social, and economic risks. For instance, natural gas power plants emit only half of the carbon dioxide as coal to generate the same amount of electricity, but policies are needed to reduce methane gas leakage that threatens to undermine these environmental benefits.

The Nicholas Institute’s experts advise decision makers and industry on policies necessary to implement alternative practices aimed at improving current industry standards and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. From highlighting the risks posed by leaking underground gas storage facilities to surveying state-based landscape planning tools for energy development, our researchers strive to bring fact-based analysis and problem-solving to today’s energy challenges.


Unconventional Oil and Gas Development

The rapid growth of unconventional oil and gas, also referred to as hydraulic fracturing, transformed the energy landscape. New areas became sites of energy extraction, such as the Marcellus Shale Play in Pennsylvania and the Bakken Play in North Dakota.