Christopher Smith, a 1986 graduate of Southwest High School and now deputy assistant secretary for oil and natural gas at the U.S. Department of Energy, heads a newly created steering committee charged with the safe development of the nation's shale and other unconventional petroleum reserves. Smith was in his hometown Thursday, where he addressed a breakfast group and planned a tour of the Fort Worth manufacturing facility of Frac Tech, a maker of hydraulic fracturing equipment. Smith told us the purpose of the committee is to set the priorities of environmental and technical concerns that its six members, two each from DOE, EPA and U.S. Geological Survey, should pursue. President Barack Obama issued an executive order establishing the committee in April with a mandate to create a multi-agency research plan "using each agency's core competencies" to advance the prudent development of U.S. oil and gas resources.
"This is a resource that can be developed safely," said Smith, a West Point graduate who holds an MBA from the University of Cambridge and previously worked for Texaco and Chevron. The goal is to "scientifically quantify" the risks and rewards of shale development.
-- Jim Fuquay