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Expertise Revisited: Reflecting on the Intersection of Science and Democracy in the Case of Fracking

Description: This dissertation aims to explain the conditions under which expertise can undermine democratic decision making. I argue that the root of the conflict between expertise and democracy lies in what I call insufficiently “representative” expertise – that is forms of scientific research that are not relevant to the policy questions at hand and that fail to make visible their hidden values dimensions. I claim that the scholarly literature on the problem of expertise fails to recognize and address the issue correctly, because it does not open the black box of scientific methodologies. I maintain that only by making sense of the methodological choices of experts in the context of policy making can we determine the relevance of research and reveal the hidden socio-political values and consequences. Using the case of natural gas fracking, I demonstrate how expert contributions – even though epistemically sound – can muddle democratic policy processes. I present four case studies from controversies about fracking to show how to contextualize scientific methodologies in the pertinent political process. I argue that the common problem across all case studies is the failure of expertise to sufficiently represent stakeholders’ problems and concerns. In this context, “representation” has three criteria: (1) the operational research questions on which the qualified experts work are relevant to stakeholders’ problems and concerns; (2) the non-epistemic values and consequences of epistemic choices of experts are compatible with social and political values and priorities; and (3) hidden values attached to facts are fully transparent and openly debated. In the conclusion, I propose a normative version of this representation theory that can be used to evaluate the appropriateness of expertise for democratic policy making. Instead of the value-free science ideal, I propose a new ideal to legitimately allow non-epistemic values in scientific reasoning without compromising the soundness of ...
Date: December 2015
Creator: Ahmadi, Mahdi
Partner: UNT Libraries

Evaluation of the Influence of Non-Conventional Sources of Emissions on Ambient Air Pollutant Concentrations in North Texas

Description: Emissions of air pollutants from non-conventional sources have been on the rise in the North Texas area over the past decade. These include primary pollutants such as volatile organic compound (VOC) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) which also act as precursors in the formation of ozone. Most of these have been attributed to a significant increase in oil and gas production activities since 2000 within the Barnett Shale region adjacent to the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex region. In this study, air quality concentrations measured at the Denton Airport and Dallas Hinton monitoring sites operated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) were evaluated. VOC concentration data from canister-based sampling along with continuous measurement of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), ozone (O3), particulate matter (PM2.5), and meteorological conditions at these two sites spanning from 2000 through 2014 were employed in this study. The Dallas site is located within the urban core of one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, while the Denton site is an exurban site with rural characteristics to it. The Denton Airport site was influenced by natural gas pads surrounding it while there are very few natural gas production facilities within close proximity to the Dallas Hinton site. As of 2013, there were 1362 gas pads within a 10 mile radius to the Denton Airport site but there were only 2 within a 10 mile radius to Dallas Hinton site. The Dallas site displayed higher concentrations of NOx and much lower concentrations of VOC than the Denton site. Extremely high levels of VOC measured at the Denton site corresponded with the increase in oil and gas production activities in close proximity to the monitoring site. Ethane and propane are two major contributors to the measured VOC concentration, suggesting the influence of fugitive emissions of natural gas. ...
Date: August 2015
Creator: Lim, Guo Quan
Partner: UNT Libraries

Energy Primer: A Handbook of Energy Market Basics

Description: This primer explores the workings of the wholesale markets for natural gas, electricity and oil, which are forms of energy that are of particular interest to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission pursuant to its authority under the Natural Gas Act, the Federal Power Act, and the Interstate Commerce Act.
Date: November 2015
Creator: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

An Overview of Unconventional Oil and Natural Gas: Resources and Federal Actions

Description: This report focuses on the growth in U.S. oil and natural gas production driven primarily by tight oil formations and shale gas formations. It also reviews selected federal environmental regulatory and research initiatives related to unconventional oil and gas extraction, including the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposed hydraulic fracturing rule and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) actions.
Date: January 5, 2015
Creator: Ratner, Michael & Tiemann, Mary
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Interstate Natural Gas Pipelines: Process and Timing of FERC Permit Application Review

Description: This report provides an overview of the federal certification process for interstate natural gas pipelines. It discusses the length of the review for recent interstate gas pipeline applications--a topic of specific interest to Congress and industry. In this context, the report discusses the key provisions in H.R. 161 and their implications for gas pipeline certificate approval.
Date: January 16, 2015
Creator: Parfomak, Paul W.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Mexico's Oil and Gas Sector: Background, Reform Efforts, and Implications for the United States

Description: This report provides an overview of Pemex and the content and prospects for Mexico's energy reforms, before discussing specific issues facing Mexico's oil and gas industry. It then examines the U.S.-Mexico energy relationship through the lenses of trade and energy cooperation. It concludes by suggesting several oversight issues for Congress related to what the enactment of energy reform might portend for Mexico's economic development, the U.S. energy matrix, and bilateral or North American energy cooperation.
Date: January 27, 2015
Creator: Ribando Seelke, Clare; Villarreal, M. A.; Ratner, Michael & Brown, Phillip
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

U.S. Natural Gas Exports: New Opportunities, Uncertain Outcomes

Description: This report examines what has changed in the U.S. natural gas market and the prospects and implications of the United States becoming a larger net exporter of natural gas. Bills to expedite and expand liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports have been introduced in the 114th Congress, including the LNG Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act (H.R. 351 and S. 33), the American Job Creation and Strategic Alliances LNG Act (H.R. 287), the Crude Oil Export Act (H.R. 156), the Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act (H.R. 89), and the Export American Natural Gas Act of 2015 (H.R. 428).
Date: January 28, 2015
Creator: Ratner, Michael; Parfomak, Paul W.; Luther, Linda & Fergusson, Ian F.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Overview and Issues for Implementation of the Federal Cloud Computing Initiative: Implications for Federal Information Technology Reform Management

Description: This report explains what cloud computing is, including cloud deployment models and service models, discusses issues that should be considered when adopting cloud services, and presents the federal government's planning for IT reform. It also provides information on assessments that have been conducted on agency cloud adoption and discusses both the challenges and drivers of cloud adoption. Finally, the report provides possible mechanisms for Congress to monitor agencies as they implement cloud computing.
Date: January 20, 2015
Creator: Moloney Figliola, Patricia & Fischer, Eric A.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

An Overview of Unconventional Oil and Natural Gas: Resources and Federal Actions

Description: This report focuses on the growth in U.S. oil and natural gas production driven primarily by tight oil formations and shale gas formations. It also reviews selected federal environmental regulatory and research initiatives related to unconventional oil and gas extraction, including the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) hydraulic fracturing rule (finalized in March 2015) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) actions.
Date: April 22, 2015
Creator: Ratner, Michael & Tiemann, Mary
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

An Overview of Unconventional Oil and Natural Gas: Resources and Federal Actions

Description: This report focuses on the growth in U.S. oil and natural gas production driven primarily by tight oil formations and shale gas formations. It also reviews selected federal environmental regulatory and research initiatives related to unconventional oil and gas extraction, including the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) hydraulic fracturing rule (finalized in March 2015) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) actions.
Date: April 7, 2015
Creator: Ratner, Michael & Tiemann, Mary
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Gracias a La Nacionalización De Los Hidrocarburos: a Critical Analysis of Bolivia’s Transition to Compressed Natural Gas

Description: This paper critically analyzes the implementation of compressed natural gas and the ways in which it creates discourse in urban Bolivia. The rapidly developing nation is keen on making ubiquitous use of compressed natural gas a reality by issuing subsidies, citing increased mobility, savings, and environmental stewardship as the primary motives. Currently, eight out of every 10 public vehicles in Bolivia are powered by compressed natural gas. Through semi-structured interviews, questionnaires and secondary data collection, this paper elucidates the transitional process of building a natural gas-based transport network through discursive governance. This work draws on the critical discourse analysis literature to dissect disaggregated modal preference data, government documents, and news articles collected in Santa Cruz, Latin America's second fastest growing city. Moreover, this paper identifies and examines the ways in which the counter-discourse impacts the transformation of the country’s energy matrix. Results show that Bolivian automobile owners are reluctant to convert their automobiles, despite reduced transportation costs, stating that minimal compressed natural gas infrastructure exists outside of urban areas, and the conversion damages their vehicles’ motor. Additionally, the research reveals that automobile owners are currently the main beneficiaries, though respondents who do not posses an automobile speak more favorably of natural gas. Finally, this research illustrates that the compressed natural gas-oriented policies encourage personal automobile use that continues to drive socio-spatial segregation of Santa Cruz’s residents. Thus, the compressed natural gas discourse helps shape the urban landscape by persuading the public to consume domestically extracted and manufactured natural gas.
Date: May 2015
Creator: McCollum, Jerl Levi
Partner: UNT Libraries

U.S. Natural Gas Exports and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement

Description: On October 5, 2015, President Obama announced the conclusion of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade agreement (FTA) among the United States and 11 other Asia-Pacific nations - Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. This report briefly discusses the agreement and its potential effects.
Date: October 15, 2015
Creator: Parfomak, Paul W. & Ratner, Michael
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Mexico's Oil and Gas Sector: Background, Reform Efforts, and Implications for the United States

Description: This report provides an overview of Pemex and the content and prospects for Mexico's energy reforms. It then examines the U.S.-Mexico energy relationship through the lenses of trade and energy cooperation. It concludes by suggesting oversight issues for Congress related to what the enactment of energy reform might portend for Mexico's economic development, the U.S. energy matrix, and bilateral or North American energy cooperation.
Date: September 28, 2015
Creator: Ribando Seelke, Clare & Ratner, Michael
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Mexico's Oil and Gas Sector: Background, Reform Efforts, and Implications for the United States

Description: This report provides an overview of Pemex and the content and prospects for Mexico's energy reforms, before discussing specific issues facing Mexico's oil and gas industry. It then examines the U.S.-Mexico energy relationship through the lenses of trade and energy cooperation. It concludes by suggesting several oversight issues for Congress related to what the enactment of energy reform might portend for Mexico's economic development, the U.S. energy matrix, and bilateral or North American energy cooperation.
Date: July 30, 2015
Creator: Ribando Seelke, Clare; Ratner, Michael; Villarreal, M. A. & Brown, Phillip
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department