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David Hughes
Fellow, Fossil Fuels

J. David Hughes is an earth scientist who has studied the energy resources of Canada for nearly four decades, including 32 years with the Geological Survey of Canada as a scientist and research manager. He developed the National Coal Inventory to determine the availability and environmental constraints associated with Canada’s coal resources. As Team Leader for Unconventional Gas on the Canadian Gas Potential Committee, he coordinated  publication of a comprehensive assessment of Canada’s unconventional natural gas potential. He is currently president of a consultancy dedicated to research on energy and sustainability issues.

Over the past decade, he has researched, published and lectured widely on global energy and sustainability issues in North America and internationally. His work with Post Carbon Institute includes a series of papers (2011) on the challenges of natural gas being a “bridge fuel” from coal to renewables; Drill, Baby, Drill (2013), the most comprehensive publicly available analysis to date of the prospects for shale gas and tight oil in the United States; Drilling California (2013), which critically examined the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) estimates of technically recoverable tight oil in the Monterey Shale, which the EIA claimed constituted two-thirds of U.S. tight oil (the EIA subsequently wrote down its resource estimate for the Monterey by 96%); and Drilling Deeper (2014), which challenged the U.S. Department of Energy’s expectation of long-term domestic oil and natural gas abundance with an in-depth assessment of all drilling and production data from the major shale plays, current through mid-2014.

Hughes’s work has been widely cited in the press, including in The Economist, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Los Angeles Times, and The Atlantic, and has been featured on CNBC, Canadian Business, Walrus and elsewhere. He is a board member of Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy and the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas – Canada. He has contributed to Nature Journal and Carbon Shift, an anthology edited by Thomas Homer-Dixon on the twin issues of peak energy and climate change.