Shale Plays in the Intermountain West: Legal and Policy Issues

Posted: Mar 19, 2019

By Judson Brehmer

The potential of shale gas has received significant attention in the last year, with some analysts predicting that shale will provide as much as half of North America’s natural gas supply by 2020. Heralding the benefits of natural gas over other fossil fuels like coal and crude, the Obama administration seems likely to adopt policies allowing for increased shale gas production in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While shale gas has been produced in some parts of the United States for over a century, developing technologies such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have only recently made the industry profitable.

Shale gas may be part of the answer to our energy crisis, or at least a practicable stopgap in a move away from coal. The quantity of shale gas reserves in the eastern U.S. could easily serve the U.S. energy needs for decades to come. Many environmentalists, however, claim that hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) is contaminating groundwater supplies and has even resulted in some wells exploding. Furthermore, their position is that when impacts of methane leaks are included, the greenhouse gas footprint of shale gas may be far worse than coal and oil. The fracking process is currently exempt from federal drinking water regulations, but the EPA is initiating a new study that will purportedly examine the broad range of impacts that the fracking process and ancillary activities may have on drinking water.

Upcoming Symposium

On November 12, 2010, the Red Lodge Clearinghouse and the Natural Resource Law Center (NRLC) of the University of Colorado Law School will host a one-day symposium examining the legal and policy issues involved in the development of shale gas and shale oil resources in the West. A balanced program comprised of renowned speakers and panelists representing the oil & gas industry; county, state, and federal government, and environmental groups will discuss the potential of shale gas in meeting our nation’s energy needs, areas of concern including impacts on land and water resources and on air quality, the emerging technologies that may help alleviate those concerns, and the current and anticipated regulatory framework that will direct industry development. This symposium will facilitate productive dialogue among a wide range of stakeholders and interested parties to guide policy decisions.

Confirmed speakers/panelists include Michelle Michot Foss, Chief Energy Economist, Center for Energy Economics, Bureau of Economic Geology, University of Texas at Austin; Bruce Kramer, McGinnis, Lochridge
& Kilgore - Houston, TX; Dave Neslin, Acting Director, Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission - Denver; Richard Nehring, Nehring Associates - Colorado Springs, CO; Azra Tutuncu, Harry D. Campbell Chair, Petroleum Engineering Dept. and Director, Unconventional Natural Gas Institute of the Colorado School of Mines - Golden, CO; Avi Garbow, Deputy General Counsel, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Washington, DC; John C. Martin, Crowell & Moring - Washington, DC; Randy Udall, Co-founder of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil-USA - Carbondale, CO; John Jacus, Davis Graham & Stubbs - Denver; Jeremy Nichols, Climate & Energy Program Director, WildEarth Guardians - Denver; Steve Sonnenberg and John Curtis, Colorado School of Mines - Golden, CO; and William Boyd, University of Colorado Law School Professor of energy law & regulation, climate change law & policy, and environmental law.  The symposium is chaired by Judson Brehmer and Bruce Kramer.  

Join us 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM on Friday, November 12, at the Grand Hyatt -Denver (1750 Welton Street, Sunlight Peak Room on the 37th floor).

Registration is required, and can be done on-line at:

fee:  $195

(Students and others needing financial assistance should contact Heidi Horten using the contact information below.            

Symposium program is
available at:


Phone: 303-492-1286


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