STATEMENT FROM ITHACA COLLEGE NATURAL LANDS COMMITTEE (ICNL) REGARDING NATURAL GAS DRILLING AND HIGH-VOLUME HYDRAULIC FRACTURING IN THE MARCELLUS SHALE
This consensus statement was formulated as a presentation by ICNL to the Ithaca College Administration and Board of Trustees. It reflects the opinion of the committee, which is made up of faculty, staff, administration, and students from across campus. It is not the official stance of Ithaca College.
Ithaca College is Ithaca’s college. As such, we are in a unique position to provide leadership to the greater Ithaca community and Tompkins County on environmental issues. I.C. has exhibited this leadership and its commitment to sustainability by signing, first the Talloires Declaration, and then the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. We strive to balance the three elements of sustainability: environmental stewardship, social justice, and economic development, and we have applied this model in our deliberations regarding natural gas drilling on Ithaca College Natural Lands.
Extraction of natural gas from the rock formations underlying our area (the Marcellus Shale) via horizontal drilling and high-volume (“slick water”) hydraulic fracturing will require industrial-type development that could have serious impacts on wide areas of land and water. If realized, these impacts would be incompatible with Ithaca College’s responsibility to preserve and protect its land and water resources, maintain the quality of life in our communities, and ensure the long-term economic stability of those communities.
Furthermore, this activity has the very serious potential to have a large negative impact on Ithaca College as even one small accident in the area could harm our ability to recruit students, faculty, and staff.
It is the conclusion of the Ithaca College Natural Lands Advisory Committee that
(1) Ithaca College should retain full control of the mineral rights beneath all college-owned properties.
(2) Along with the Town of Ithaca, Cornell University, and others, we urge that the Honorable David A. Paterson, Governor, withdraw from SEQRA review the Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program Well Permit Issuance for Horizontal Drilling and High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing to Develop the Marcellus Shale and Other Low-Permeability Gas Reservoirs. We believe the aggregate protection provided by this draft SGEIS is inadequate to safeguard the public health, environment, and economy of our area, the Finger Lakes region, and New York State.
(3) We further believe Ithaca College should join efforts calling for a moratorium on horizontal drilling and high volume (“slick water”) hydraulic fracturing unless and until a scientifically informed consensus is reached at federal, state, and local levels on the long-term environmental, health, economic, and community impacts of this activity, and the regulatory structures and safeguards that are required to protect the public from these impacts are in place.