News Releases

Ithaca College Will Host Educational Forum on Fracking

ITHACA, NY — On Wednesday, Nov. 3, Ithaca College will host a forum to discuss issues surrounding the controversial method of drilling for methane gas by slick-water high-volume horizontal fracturing, known as fracking. Scheduled for 6:30–9 p.m. in Emerson Suites, Phillips Hall, “What’s All This About Fracking?” is free and open to the public.

Moderated by Crystal Sarakas, a host/producer at WSKG public radio and television in Binghamton, the forum will feature noted experts from various fields as well as an industry professional, an environmental lawyer and a representative of a pro-drilling landowners’ coalition.

Fracking has become one of the most important and divisive environmental and economic issues in our region, as Ithaca and much of New York State sit on the Marcellus Shale, which has been touted as one of the richest sources of “natural” gas in the country. Drilling is already taking place in neighboring Pennsylvania and Ohio via the fracking method, which uses millions of gallons of fresh water mixed with sand and toxic chemicals to blast through the shale and release the gas trapped within.

Fracking Forum Panelists

  • Tony Ingraffea, the D.C. Baum Professor of Engineering at Cornell University, will lead off the forum with a look at the physics of using fracking for gas extraction. Ingraffea's research concentrates on complex fracturing processes, and he has been a principal investigator on research and development projects for the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Gas Research Institute and Schlumberger, among many others.
  • John Holko, president of Lenape Resources and also representing the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, will share the industry perspective on jobs and the economic benefits of drilling. The operating arm of Lenape Energy, Holko’s company is involved in the exploration, development, gathering and marketing of oil and gas in the Appalachian basin, with a primary focus in New York and Pennsylvania.
  • Lorin Cooper, chair of the Political Action and Public Relations Committee of the Steuben County Landowners Association, will discuss how this drilling education and advocacy group works to ensure the most favorable contract provisions for those who lease their land to drilling companies, and the economic benefits the coalition expects. Cooper is retired from the Steuben-Allegany BOCES, where he was director of vocational education and alternative high schools.
  • Jannette Barth, president of the J.M. Barth & Associates economic research and consulting firm, will discuss her findings about the deep and broad economic impacts of fracking in the Marcellus Shale. Her study, “Unanswered Questions About the Economic Impact of Gas Drilling in the Marcellus Shale: Don’t Jump to Conclusions,” looked at employment and demographic information in areas where drilling has taken place in Pennsylvania and western states.
  • Robert Howarth will discuss his study on the greenhouse gas footprint of the Marcellus Shale. The David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology at Cornell University, Howarth aims in his research both to address fundamental ecological questions and to contribute to practical issues of environmental management. He is conducting a full life-cycle analysis of greenhouse-gas emissions from shale gas development relative to existing fossil fuel and alternative renewable energy sources.
  • Helen Slottje, a public interest attorney with the nonprofit Community Environmental Defense Council, Inc., will address legal issues confronting residents and communities. She was lead attorney for citizens on a lawsuit challenging the finding of the Village of Horseheads that there would be no significant environmental impact from a new 88-acre drilling services facility. Slottje works with landowners who are trying to understand their leases, students at Cornell’s Water and Land Clinic, and other community groups trying to protect themselves from the negative impacts of fracking.
  • Finally, Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton will speak about legislative issues surrounding fracking. Lifton is finishing her fourth term representing the 125th Assembly District, which includes all of Tompkins County, the City of Cortland, and the towns of Cortlandville and Virgil. She is vice chair of the Assembly Steering Committee and serves on the Agriculture, Commerce & Industry, Election Law, Environmental Conservation, Higher Education, Job Creation and Mental Health Committees.

There will be a question-and-answer session after the formal presentations. The public is invited and reminded that the Ithaca College culture is one of collegiality and respect for diverse opinions.

The forum is being hosted by the Ithaca College School of Business, the Commit to Change program and Sustainability at Ithaca; with further support from the Roy H. Park School of Communications; School of Humanities and Sciences; and Departments of Biology, Economics, Environmental Studies and Sciences, Health Promotion and Physical Education, Philosophy and Religion, Physics, Politics, Psychology, and Sociology.

For more information contact Marian Brown, special assistant to the provost for sustainability, at 607-274-3787 or