"Unconventional Gas Development from Shale: Four Myths" was the topic of a presentation by Dr. Anthony Ingraffea in Portland on Feb. 26. Professor Ingraffea is a shale expert and engineering professor at Cornell University. Part one of his two-hour talk will be aired on Access Channel 5, beginning Saturday and running through Friday, March 15 at 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Ingraffea spoke at Cornell University's Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory about "high-volume hydraulic fracturing" that could come to Chautauqua County when New York state completes its EPA health review mandated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Ingraffea is co-author of "Methane and Greenhouse-Gas Footprint of Natural Gas From Shale Formations" which established that "the greenhouse footprint of fracing is greater than that of any other fossile fuel including coal."
Natural gas drilling is hardly new to Western New York, as Ingraffea pointed out, but the hydrofracturing technology used to exploit the Marcellus and Ithaca shale is new (within the past six to 10 years) and untested. "We haven't had sufficient time to determine the cost and impact."
In his talk, Ingraffea explored four myths about fracking. No. 1: 'Fracking is a 60-year-old practice and uses well-proven technology.' The implication of this statement, the professor explained, is that nothing goes wrong. But technologies such as directional drilling, high-volume frack fluid, slickwater, and multi-well pads for cluster-drilling are still in the experimental stage.
Myth number two Ingraffea addressed was that multi-well pad and cluster drilling reduces surface impact. The professor showed slides and film from his extensive documentation of ecological damage to air and water - particularly in nearby Pennsylvania. Pads designed for cluster drilling in New York State are typically a rectangular shape of 240 acres.
In part two of his talk (to be aired subsequently by Channel 5), Ingraffea addressed the problem of fluid migration from faulty wells, a problem many Pennsylvanian's have discovered is far too common, leaving them with methane-polluted water. The last myth the professor discussed was the notion that natural gas (methane, CH4) is a clean fossil fuel. Drilling, processing, transporting and burning remains one of the greatest greenhouse gas pollutants - a hundred times more polluting than carbon dioxide..
While Western New York does not have extensive Marcellus shale, it does have the lucrative Ithaca shale more than a mile beneath the surface. Ithaca shale is being exploited using high-volume hydraulic fracturing in nearby Ohio, and elsewhere.
The event was sponsored by the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, the SUNY Fredonia Academic Community Engagement Center, and the Environmental Justice Ministry of the Unitarian Church. It was filmed and edited by Snowshoefilms.
Access Channel 5 is available to cable viewers in the Mayville, Westfield, Chautauqua, North Harmony, Sherman, Ripley, and Portland area.