Professional Engineers Of North Carolina

FALL 2014

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7 Fall 2014 the Professional Engineer With any public rule-making process where there are pros, cons and controversy, registered professional engineers can provide a healthy sense of balance and perspective. T e balance is frequently off ered via an explanation of the technical, environmental and construction issues that may not be readily apparent to the general public and those who are actively engaged in the political process. T e balance also may include off ering explanations of complex technical concepts in a way that everyday people and elected representa- tives can understand. Another way professional engineers support the public process is to provide a sense of perspective by means of an objective risk assessment and a long-term view of potential impacts. T is important service provided by professional engineers and geologists is an essential part of the public process. To facilitate the best decision making and to infl uence the rule-making process by off ering input and direction, it is common for elected offi cials to rely on the experience of technical professionals such as engineers. T e input from both elected and nonelected leaders is necessary for developing the best laws that promote sustainable business and protect natural resources. T e ultimate goal is to have a good economy and a healthy environment for future generations. A few of the hot topics that the professional engineers of North Carolina attempted to address pertain to the fracking and extraction of natural gas in our state. T ese included the following: ■ Why is North Carolina considering fracking for shale gas and natural gas? What are the technical and economic considerations that are driving the real or perceived need for natural gas resource extraction in our state? ■ What are fracking and horizontal drilling? What are some basics or fundamentals of fracking, horizontal drilling, and shale and natural gas resource extraction, and how could they benefi t or impact North Carolina? ■ What is in typical fracking fl uids, and should we be concerned? How does NCMEC propose to control the use and injection of fracking fl uids in our state? ■ What are the potential risks and problems associated with fracking for shale and natural gas? Are these risks real or perceived? How can any risks be avoided if we do allow fracking in North Carolina? ■ What are the roles and responsibilities of professional engineers as fracking for shale gas is implemented in North Carolina? Why is North Carolina considering fracking for shale gas and natural gas? One of the main reasons that North Caro- lina is considering fracking for natural gas is that it offers the possibility of creating a substantial number of new jobs. Many other states with shale gas resources have seen a notable increase in the number of jobs and a decrease in unem- ployment by encouraging the exploration and extraction of shale gas. In addition, several of North Carolina's rural counties are located in areas with shale geologic characteristics that appear very promising for this type of resource extraction. A few key statistics and drivers for shale gas production in North Carolina are as follows: ■ Rural counties in North Carolina with shale gas are pushing for exploration. Several of them have landowners who want the freedom to develop shale gas resources on their property. ■ T e shale gas resources in North Carolina may have greater value than those located in other states. Preliminary signs indicate that the shale gas resources in North Carolina are "wet gas" resources. T is means that, in addition to methane, the gas could contain compounds such as ethane and butane. T ese liquid natural gases can be separated and sold on their own. What are fracking and horizontal drilling? Fracking for natural gas and oil involves injecting a mix of water, sand and chemicals under pressures of more than 1,500 pounds per square inch into a vertical casing and a horizontally drilled well in order to open up the existing fractures in the Illinois 9.2 North Carolina 8.9 Ohio 7.5 Pennsylvania 7.5 Texas 6.5 Wyoming 4.6 State Unemployment rate (percent) Unemployment rate for states that have shale gas, 2013 Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, July 2013

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