Two widely recognized land grant university professors, one from Penn State, the other from Cornell, will examine and debate the issue "Should New York State and/or Starkey Township Allow High Volume Shale Gas Extraction?" The program is open to all and will begin at 7 p.m. in the Dundee Central School High School Auditorium in Dundee.
The Starkey Town Board-sponsored evening will be styled in the format of a Presidential debate, with each participant being given time to comment as well to engage each other directly.
Questions submitted from the audience will be encouraged to address local concerns both pro and con. The Starkey Town Board has a moratorium on high volume horizontal hydrofracking at this time. The board members have expressed an interest in providing both sides of this controversial issue. Longtime Starkey resident Jack Ossont will act as the moderator.
On the surface Professors Ingraffea and Engelder appear to be quite similar. Each has had research funded by many of the largest U.S. corporations; Ingraffea by Schlumberger, Boeing, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and others; Engelder by Aramco, Shell, Petrobras, Total and others. On the surface each could easily be identified as corporate insiders, but that's where the similarity starts to fracture apart.
Terry Engelder and a professor from SUNY Fredonia, Gary Lash, were on the forefront of the Marcellus gas "play," an industry term used to describe a shale formation. Their early 2008 projections of up to 516 trillion cubic feet in the Marcellus, with 50 trillion of it being recoverable at that time, encouraged a modern "gas rush" in areas of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. Today both Drs. Engelder and Lash are president and vice president of Appalachian Fracture Systems, Inc., a consulting firm to the industry. Engelder's web site bio states, "He is currently a professor of geosciences at Penn State and has previously served on the staffs of the U.S. Geological Survey, Texaco, and Columbia University."
He holds degrees from Penn State (B.S. 1968) Yale (M.S. '72) and Texas A&M (Ph.D. '73). In 2011, following Engelder's projections on the Marcellus Shale, Foreign Policy listed him as one of the top 100 global thinkers.
Anthony Ingraffea was also on the forefront; his field is how best to fracture rock formations, including dark shales like the Marcellus. Ingraffea eventually moved from being a developer of hydraulic fracturing and has since been researching the impacts of this unconventional drilling on communities and on water, air and climate change. Ingraffea is widely known as a plainspoken presenter on his areas of expertise as well as for his co-authorship, with Robert Howarth and Renee Santoro, of a Cornell University 2011 study that established the greenhouse gas footprint of fracking as being greater than that of any other fossil fuel including coal."
He is the Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering and a Weiss Presidential Teaching Fellow at Cornell. He also serves as president of Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, Inc., a group that is contesting the safety of current fracking technologies. He remains a prominent member of the Cornell Fracture Group that researches materials stress including metals used in aircraft. He holds degrees from Notre Dame (B.S. 1969), Polytechnic (M.S. '71) and Colorado U (Ph.D. '77). In 2011 Time magazine named him one of its "People Who Mattered."
Engelder and Ingraffea have both received distinguished teaching awards, and both men are internationally known in the discussion of this relatively new (within the past 10 years) high- volume, horizontal, "slickwater," hydraulic fracturing technology, which is vastly different from conventional drilling. Those unfamiliar or familiar with this unconventional drilling technology, in favor or not or still undecided, should gain new perspectives from this event, which is free and open to the public.
The debate comes on the heels of a large rally in Albany, where about 2,000 people gathered to protest fracking. citizens opposed to fracking gave more than 200,000 comments to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) on the inadequacy of any rules for impending fracking. Their comments were hand-delivered in time for the Jan. 11 deadline for submission.
The DEC has until Feb. 27 to finalize its regulations and address the 200,000+ public comments it has recently received.