Susan Christopherson: Managing Risks in Shale Gas Development: International Perspectives on Regional Impacts

Susan Christopherson is an economic geographer whose research and teaching focus on economic development, urban labor markets, and location patterns in service industries, particularly the media industries. Her research includes both international and U.S.-policy-oriented projects. Her international research includes studies in Canada, Mexico, China, Germany, and Jordan as well as multicountry studies. In the past three years she has completed studies on advanced manufacturing in New York's Southern Tier, the photonics industry in Rochester, New York, the role of universities and colleges in revitalizing the upstate New York economy, and production trends affecting media industries in New York City. She has written more than 50 articles and 25 policy reports on topics in economic geography and economic development. Her current projects include studies of phoenix industries in old industrial regions and a comprehensive economic impact analysis of natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale in New York and Pennsylvania. Christopherson received her Ph.D. from the University of California–Berkeley.


Resource extraction risk analysis typically focuses on the ecological and public health risks tied to extraction sites or in adjacent communities. Extraction industries limit the risk "environment" to confine their accountability and liability to a narrow realm at the extraction site. They use segmentation strategies to distance themselves from risks associated with supply chains, transportation of the extracted resource, and indirect effects of resource extraction beyond the extraction site. As a consequence, geographically extensive impacts, costs, and risks of any form of resource extraction are rarely effectively captured. This [lecture] looks beyond the well pad at the geographic footprint of unconventional shale gas development in the U.S. to examine some of its regional and national impacts. The goal of this [lecture] is to demonstrate the need to develop a broader, more integrated understanding of the risk environment created by resource extraction.