Hydraulic Fracturing Debate at SUNY Cortland, Ingraffea vs Siegel

Yesterday, a debate on horizontal hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), the process used to extract natural gas from the Marcellus Shale, was held on the campus of the State University of New York at Cortland. “Debating the Pros and Cons of Gas Drilling” featured Professor Anthony R. Ingraffea from Cornell University on the anti-drilling side, and Professor Donald Siegel from Syracuse University on the pro-drilling side. Unfortunately MDN could not be in attendance. Since those opposed to drilling focus almost exclusively on the issue of fracking, one would expect this event to be heavily covered by the media. But checking news sources in the Binghamton, Cortland, Syracuse and Ithaca areas finds only a single report from all of the news outlets, from Binghamton’s WBNG-TV Channel 12 (embedded below).

Perhaps the debate being held on a Sunday had something to do with the dearth of media coverage. Perhaps it’s too soon to expect to see coverage (being less than 24 hours later). MDN will continue to keep an eye out for any other media coverage. However, if you attended the meeting, please leave us a comment below on what you saw and heard.

MDN previously heard Prof. Ingraffea hold court nearly one year ago. You can read that report here: Cornell Hydraulic Fracturing Expert Headlines First Meeting of New York Residents Against Drilling (NYRAD) in Vestal, NY.

WBNG-TV Channel 12 (Feb 20) – Hydrofracking Debate

  • Jim,

    I was there, and I think the organizers did as well as could be expected toward keeping it oriented toward factual persuasion — rather than dramatic persuasion, or emotional persuasion. (There will be another opportunity for street theater tomorrow, when the DRBC hearings open in both PA and NY.)

    In Cortland, one factual point that I thought went in the drilling opposition’s favor was this: Critics are challenging claims that industry is now recycling or reusing upwards of 70 percent of its flowback water in PA. They’re saying perhaps this is true for a small number of first-class operators — but not as an overall average statewide. In fact, they’re claiming the overall number is more like 15 percent, and that the rest of the water has to be trucked all over hell’s half-acre to get treated and then released someplace. I would be very interested in knowing the truth of this.

    There were a couple topics where drilling opponents continue to run their arguments unchecked by reality. Foreign investment in U.S. shale gas, for instance, is being cast as some kind of conspiracy to export fossil fuels from this continent (when, in fact, all that’s likely to flow back and forth overseas is money and technology). Also, critics continue to pose very opportunistic challenges to NY’s modern compulsory integration and well-spacing statute, completely missing the very real environmental consequences of PA’s lack of a similar law.

  • Thanks for the update Andy! Much appreciated.

  • Tom Johnson

    I did not attend the presentation, but would like to comment briefly on the issue of water recycling and treatment aptly identified by Andy. While it is true that this topic is a substantial hurdle, critics seem to ignore the fact that a whole industry is growing that specializes in tretament of flowback and produced water from natural gas development. As the need grows, so will the water treatment business and the technology to treat the water effectively. Many such businesses have been established in Pennsylvania and the same can be expected in New York when/if natrual gas drilling proceeds.