Table of Contents

Shale Gas and the Future of Energy

Shale Gas and the Future of Energy

Law and Policy for Sustainability

New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series

Edited by John C. Dernbach and James R. May

The rapid growth of shale gas development has led to an intense and polarizing debate about its merit. At the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, countries around the world concluded that the transition to sustainability must be accelerated. This book asks and suggests answers to the question that has not yet been systematically analysed: what laws and policies are needed to ensure that shale gas development helps to accelerate the transition to sustainability?

Chapter 2: Sustainable drilling through health impact assessment: understanding and planning for public health impacts

Pamela Ko and Patricia Salkin

Subjects: environment, energy policy and regulation, environmental management, environmental politics and policy, law - academic, energy law, environmental law


This chapter evaluates the role of health impact assessment (HIA) HIA in fostering, to the extent possible, sustainable shale gas development. HIA is used to assess the human health impacts of building projects, programs, or policy changes on a given population using quantitative and qualitative methods while seeking to predict future health consequences of stakeholder decisions in order to inform the decision-making process.’ Because sustainability requires consideration of how a proposal, project, or policy will affect the use of non-renewable natural resources, the availability of water and fertile land, and the pollution of air, water, and land, HIA can play an invaluable role in the development and implementation of strategies for sustainable drilling. Specifically, the advancement of sustainable development practices in the area of unconventional gas extraction requires a tool such as HIA to provide a long-term view of projects and policies, considering not only impacts in the near future but also ramifications of those practices that will affect future generations. This long-term view necessary for sustainability poses difficult questions for proposals that bring welcome and often needed immediate benefits that may deplete the resources available to future generations. This chapter suggests that HIA can be used to inform and educate decision makers regarding the health implications of shale gas extraction by identifying potential positive and negative health impacts at all stages of drilling, identifying alternatives to maximize benefits of proposed actions, mitigating negative effects to the built environment, and promoting and/or improving the health of a given ‘target’ population in line with sustainable development.

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