Michigan Chronicle interviews Rabe on fracking in Michigan

January 21, 2013

The Michigan Chronicle interviewed Barry Rabe for its story on hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." Fracking is a process by which oil and gas companies inject chemical fluids or sand into underground shale rock formations in order to free deposits of oil or natural gas. The article, "Fracking Put Pennsylvania on Top of the U.S. Gas Boom—Is Michigan Next?" considers how growth of fracking techniques may impact the economy and environment in Michigan.

"Shale [fracturing] is not a new industry but it is expanding on a scale not anticipated," Rabe said in an interview with MIchronicle.com. "I would argue we're just at the point of beginning to think about a real science research program [to explore] fracking."

Fracking is relatively uncommon in Michigan compared to other states, Rabe said. However, the broader national conversation about the costs and benefits of fracking offers Michigan leaders and residents an opportunity to discuss what policies should be in place. Rabe pointed out that most environmental policy often results after some harm to the environment has already occurred.

"We need policies that are transparent, that are rigorous and efficient and gain public confidence. That's the challenge." Rabe said.

Rabe, who is on the National Research Council on Risk Management and Governance Issues in Shale Gas Development, said that these and other issues have begun to generate more interest in research into the impact of fracking in the U.S. and abroad.

"Universities are thinking about some of the natural gas issues and are looking at this more closely," Rabe said. "It's beginning around the world."