Yergin, A&M prof, environmentalist on new DOE frac study panel

The Department of Energy has formed its own panel of experts to review of existing rules and practices in natural gas drilling with an eye toward ways to make it safer.

The special subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy’s Advisory Board – which includes Texas A&M petroleum engineering professor Stephen Holditch, Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp, and IHS-CERA Chairman Dan Yergin – has a pretty tight time frame for its task.

The group is expected to identify within 90 days of starting its work any immediate steps that can be taken to improve the safety and environmental performance of a key drilling technical in natural gas production, hydraulic fracturing.  

Within six months of beginning their work, the group is expected to create a consensus recommendation on advice to federal agencies on best practices for shale gas extraction to ensure protection of public health and the environment.

“America’s vast natural gas resources can generate many new jobs and provide significant environmental benefits, but we need to ensure we harness these resources safely,” DOE Secretary Steven Chu said in a release.

The group was created under the umbrella of President Obama’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future, but industry supporters quickly labelled it a waste of government money.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce put out a statement saying the panel is hardly needed given plans forthe Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a lengthy study of fracking.

“It is important to study and understand the potential safety and environmental impacts of the fracking process, but how many Agencies need to get into the act?” the committee said in a statement. “Adding another study to the mix will do little to prove anything and only serve to waste more government resources.”

The EPA study is expected to be done by late 2012, so it’s possible the DOE panel could have its work done before then.

Here’s the complete list of panel members:

John Deutch, Institute Professor at MIT
John Deutch served as Director of Energy Research, Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Technology and Under Secretary of Energy for the U.S. Department of Energy in the Carter Administration and Undersecretary of Acquisition & Technology, Deputy Secretary of Defense and Director of Central Intelligence during the first Clinton Administration.  Dr. Deutch also currently serves on the Board of Directors of Raytheon and Cheniere Energy and is a past director of Citigroup, Cummins Engine Company and Schlumberger. A chemist who has published more than 140 technical papers in physical chemistry, he has been a member of the MIT faculty since 1970, and has served as Chairman of the Department of Chemistry, Dean of Science and Provost.
Stephen Holditch, Head of the Department of Petroleum Engineering, Texas A&M University
Stephen Holditch serves as Head of Texas A&M’s Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering and serves on the Boards of Directors of Triangle Petroleum Corporation and Matador Resources Corporation Texas. In 1977, Dr. Holditch founded S.A. Holditch & Associates, a petroleum technology consulting firm which provided analysis of low permeability gas reservoirs and designed hydraulic fracture treatments. He served as president of the company until it was bought by Schlumberger in 1997. Dr. Holditch has worked for Schlumberger, Shell Oil Company and Pan American Petroleum Corporation.
Fred Krupp, President, Environmental Defense Fund
Fred Krupp has overseen the growth of EDF into a recognized worldwide leader in the environmental movement.  Krupp is widely acknowledged as the foremost champion of harnessing market forces for environmental ends.  He also helped launch a corporate coalition, the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, whose Fortune 500 members – Alcoa, GE, DuPont and dozens more – have called for strict limits on global warming pollution. Mr. Krupp is coauthor, with Miriam Horn, of New York Times Best Seller, Earth: The Sequel.  Educated at Yale and the University of Michigan Law School, Krupp was among 16 people named as America’s Best Leaders by U.S. News and World Report in 2007.
Kathleen McGinty, Former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Kathleen McGinty is a respected environmental leader, having served as President Clinton’s Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and Legislative Assistant and Environment Advisor to then-Senator Al Gore. More recently, she served as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and as Chair of the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority. Ms. McGinty is Senior Vice President of Weston Solutions, Inc. and a Director at NRG Energy.  
Susan Tierney, Managing Principal, Analysis Group
Susan Tierney is chairman of the Board of the Energy Foundation, and serves on the Boards of Directors of the World Resources Institute and the Clean Air Task Force. Until recently, she was a co-chair of the National Commission on Energy Policy. Currently, she chairs the National Petroleum Council Policy Subgroup’s study of North American natural gas and oil resources. Dr. Tierney served as Assistant Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department Energy during the Clinton Administration. In Massachusetts, she served as Secretary of Environmental Affairs, Chair of the Board of the Massachusetts Water Resources Agency, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities and executive director of the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Council.
Daniel Yergin, Chairman, IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates
Daniel Yergin is the co-founder and chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates. He is a member of the Board of the United States Energy Association and a member of the U.S. National Petroleum Council. He has chaired the U.S. Department of Energy’s Task Force on Strategic Energy Research and Development. Dr. Yergin is also CNBC’s Global Energy Expert and the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power.
Mark Zoback, Professor of Geophysics, Stanford University
Mark Zoback is the Benjamin M. Page Professor of Geophysics at Stanford University. He was co-principal investigator of the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth project (SAFOD) and has been serving on a National Academy of Engineering committee investigating the Deepwater Horizon accident. He was the chairman and co-founder of GeoMechanics International and serves as a senior adviser to Baker Hughes, Inc. Prior to joining Stanford University, he served as chief of the Tectonophysics Branch of the U.S. Geological Survey Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program.