PSE Science Summaries offer downloadable and printable summaries of the current state of knowledge for a variety of energy and environment issues, including climate change, air and water impacts, human health, and sustainability. All summaries are available free-of-charge.




The Potential Impacts of Shale Gas and Oil Development on Children as a Vulnerable Population

Feb 2015

Many of the chemicals used and produced by shale gas and oil extraction processes are toxins with well-known health effects. Children and pregnant women exposed to these toxins and other associated social and biological stressors are especially vulnerable.


Running on Renewables: A review of 80% - 100% renewable electricity scenarios

Jun 2014


The transition from a power sector based on fossil fuels to one run primarily on renewable energy is a central component of many climate change mitigation strategies. This transition can also have environmental and public health benefits by reducing the total production and combustion of coal, oil and natural gas. Many analyses in the literature have demonstrated that there are more than enough solar, wind and water resources to meet most or even all energy demand on a national or global scale. However, the integration of a high proportion, or "penetration," of renewables into the electric grid requires rethinking its structure to accommodate the variability and intermittency of solar and wind generation. Here, we compare technical studies that use real resource and demand data to model how renewables might meet power needs in different regions across the globe, both now and in 2050. While the energy generation mix varies greatly based on local resources, the results all demonstrate the technological feasibility of renewable energy resources meeting 80-100% of power demand.



Climate change impacts of modern natural gas and oil development

Oct 2014



The past few years have seen major changes both in our understanding of the importance of methane as a driver of global warming and in the importance of natural gas and petroleum systems as a source of atmospheric methane. Here, we summarize the current state of knowledge on methane emissions from modern natural gas and oil development and the climate implications of those emissions.



Surface and groundwater contamination associated with modern natural gas development: Peer-Reviewed Literature 2011-2014.

Oct 2014


Differences in local geologies and hydrologic characteristics, land-use histories, industry practices, and monitored water contaminants can complicate comparisons across studies. Baseline conditions for water quality are often unknown  or may have been affected by other activities. Nonetheless, empirical evidence of surface and groundwater contamination as a result of modern natural gas operations is documented.


Powering the Grid with Intermittent Renewables

Mar 2014


Many studies have demonstrated the technical feasibility of meeting the majority or even all electricity demand with renewable energy resources. However, renewable energy generators, such as wind turbines and solar photo-voltaics, introduce different grid management challenges than power generated with nuclear and fossil fuels. Currently, the grid currently must be sufficiently flexible to respond to unexpected fluctuations in energy demand. Using wind and solar based energy technologies, however, requires that the grid be flexible enough to respond to variability in energy supply because we cannot choose when they generate electricity.


Energy Storage Technologies and Grid Applications.

Jan 2014


Energy storage can provide many benefits to the power sector. Batteries and other technologies can store solar energy during the day for use after sundown, or take on more complicated roles improving grid reliability and efficiency. Applications for storage can be found across the electric grid, from electricity generation through transmission and down to the household level. However, various barriers limit widespread storage deployment. Here we describe common energy storage technologies and applications, as well as challenges limiting widespread grid integration.

Pamphlet is sized to print on letter-size paper. Click on Title or graphic to download.

Impediments to Public Health Research on Shale (Tight) Oil and Gas Development.

May 2013


Over the past several years there has been a surge of scientific studies on the public health dimensions of unconventional gas development. However, data gaps continue to persist and efforts to fill these gaps are hampered by a variety of regulatory, governmental, and research obstacles.

Pamphlet is sized to print on legal-size paper. Click on Title or graphic to download.

Public Health Dimensions of Shale Gas Development

April 2013


Shale gas is developed using high-volume, horizontal, hydraulic fracturing (HVHF). HVHF includes the drilling and hydraulic fracturing events as well as the ancillary infrastructure required for the entire process. Data suggest that this process poses substantial risk to public health. However, the science and epidemiology is incomplete and more research is needed to adequately understand the public health dimensions of shale gas development and HVHF.

Pamphlet is sized to print on legal-size paper. Click on Title or graphic to download.


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