We are honored to present Deborah Rogers as a Trusted Adviser to Mothers for Sustainable Energy on economic questions of shale gas development. Bringing extensive and high-level experience in finance, as well as personal experience of shale gas development impacting her own farming and entrepreneurial interests, Ms. Rogers is uniquely qualified to the task. She is the founder of the Energy Policy Forum (EPF), an online educational forum dedicated to the discussion of policy and financial issues regarding shale gas and renewable energy. EPF serves as a comprehensive meeting ground where geologists and experts from other fields educate each other about the economic discrepancies and environmental dangers that surround shale gas.
Ms. Rogers lectures on shale gas economics throughout the U.S. and abroad, and has appeared on CNBC. She has been featured in articles discussing the financial anomalies of shale gas production in the New York Times “Insiders Sound an Alarm Amid A Natural Gas Rush” and, an artisanal cheese-making operation in Fort Worth, Texas. She quickly established the company as one of the premier artisanal dairies and cheese makers in the U.S., and her cheeses have won several major national awards. Ms. Rogers’ attention turned to shale gas production when she learned that an energy company planned 12 high-impact wells next to her property and dairy pastures.
Concerned about toxic pollution from the wells and how it would affect her animals and, ultimately, cheese production, she asked the energy company to pipe emissions away from her land. When the company refused, Ms. Rogers hired an environmental engineering firm to conduct baseline testing. The tests were the first of their kind in North Texas, and Ms. Rogers submitted the results to the City of Fort Worth, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), and the EPA. Within a month, the TCEQ began extensive testing of gas operations in the region. In their final report, they stated that “gas production facilities can, and in some cases do, emit contaminants that can be deemed unsafe.” Following this conclusion, the City of Fort Worth hired ERG, the environmental engineering firm, to conduct extensive testing at sites within the city limits. These results concluded that 94% of total sites tested had detectable emissions of benzene (a known human carcinogen), as well as other toxic compounds. ERG recommended the use of electric engines and vapor recovery units, among other equipment, both of which Ms. Rogers had been publicly recommending since 2009. She was appointed in 2011 by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to a task force reviewing placement of air monitors in the Barnett Shale region in light of air quality concerns brought about by the natural gas operations in North Texas.
Ms. Rogers has been speaking out about the financial anomalies of shale gas economics since 2009. Having come from a family with a history in oil and gas (her great-great-grandfather was one the of the first “wildcatters” in the U.S.), she questions the continued frenzy of drilling activity in light of the severe economic downturn and collapse of natural gas prices. She plays a leading role in shedding light on the deceptive communications surrounding natural gas, such as its widely touted characterization as both cheap and enormously abundant. Reserve estimates originally provided by industry have now been slashed dramatically in countries around the globe, including the U.S. Further, prices have declined considerably due to overproduction. This overproduction makes it appear that shale gas is abundant, when in fact it has more to do with the high initial production of shale gas wells, which then decline precipitously within months of drilling. As Ms. Rogers told Rolling Stone, “this drilling treadmill is difficult to sustain for long – especially if the wells underperform, or the resource turns out to not be as valuable as they thought.”
Ms. Rogers speaks out against the implementation of policy based on the notion of cheap and abundant shale gas. She warns that Americans should not “place all our eggs in one basket,” overexploiting natural gas while decimating the renewables sector. She says, “there is a place for natural gas, certainly, in the overall energy mix as we transition to renewables, but we must not make the mistake of relying on natural gas – particularly from unconventional sources – to the detriment of renewables. Unfortunately that is precisely what is happening at present.”