BARRIERS TO IMPROVING IMPLEMENTATION OF PENNSYLVANIA’S UNDERGROUND INJECTION WELL PROGRAM

Open Access
Author:
Li, Xueyi
Graduate Program:
Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Economics
Degree:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
July 05, 2016
Committee Members:
  • Edward Jaenicke, Thesis Advisor
  • Charles Abdalla, Committee Member
  • Edward Jaenicke, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • shale gas
  • wastewater
  • underground injection well
  • Pennsylvania
Abstract:
From 2011 to 2014, Pennsylvania's marketed natural gas production moved from the seventh-largest to the second-largest (ranked only after Texas) marketed gas-producing state in the United States. With the increase in Pennsylvania’s gas production, the wastewater from gas development has been going up as well. Accordingly, the demand for wastewater disposal facilities should goes up as well. One way to deal with wastewater is to inject it into deep underground through underground injection wells. However, Pennsylvania does not encounter an significant increase in supply of underground injection wells and it currently has less than twenty underground injection wells until 2016 (Johnson, 2015), suggesting an under-capacity in methods for wastewater disposal compared to other states with significant shale gas development under way. This thesis provides information about shale gas development in the last decade (2004-2016) in the United States. This thesis focuses on key questions related to why the underground injection wells used for wastewater disposal from hydraulic fracturing process in Pennsylvania are used far less than other states, such as Ohio, that are also developing natural gas from shale rock formations. The major research question is further broken down into hypothesis about geological aspects, regulatory aspects, and other economic factors. This thesis seeks to identify the possible barriers in front of Pennsylvania’s underground injection development process. If policy makers and other decision makers better understand and consider these barriers, the cost of shale gas development in Pennsylvania might be reduced and the efficiency can be improved (i.e., the state would be in a better position to have the capacity to handle the wastewater it generates, and not impose externalities on other states).