Hydrofracture natural gas drilling the subject of roundtable discussion hosted at Pace Law School

Pace Law School brings together “fracking” critics and proponents for a dialogue on this explosive issue

WHITE PLAINS, NY, April 4, 2011–The controversy over the extraction of natural gas by hydraulic fracturing (“hydrofracking,” or “fracking”) seems likely to burn hot as the expiration of a New York State moratorium on the process approaches on May 15.

For what it hopes will be a cooler view, Pace Law School on Thursday, April 14 will present a public roundtable discussion between advocates currently engaged on all sides of this controversial issue.

The participants are:

  • The former Executive Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental  Conservation, Stuart Gruskin;
  • Managing Attorney of EarthJustice, a national environmental advocacy organization, Deborah Goldberg;
  • The attorney representing the Chesapeake Energy Corporation, a major user of fracking, Thomas West, of The West Firm, PLLC;
  • The attorney representing claimants in Dimock, PA, who say they have suffered health impacts from polluted drinking water, William J. Dubanevich, of the firm Napoli Bern Ripka, LLP.

The program will be moderated by James Van Nostrand, executive director of Pace Law School’s Energy & Climate Center, which is a major source in the Northeastern United States for ideas and research on practical approaches to sensible energy use. The presentations will be followed by a discussion and Q&A session.

The program will be held from 6:30-9:30 p.m. in the Moot Courtroom at Pace Law School, 78 North Broadway, White Plains, NY. Admission is free for students and the public. Attorneys who pay a registration fee of $125 will receive 3 CLE credits. Register by contacting Linda Maccarrone at 914-422-4062 or by visiting www.law.pace.edu/ccle.

There will also be a live webcast of the video starting at 6:30 p.m. at mms://realserv.pace.edu/livewp. Attorneys with more than 2 years experience can receive CLE credit for viewing the webcast. They must also register in advance with Linda Maccarrone.

A “game changer” in U.S. energy strategy

The program seeks to separate fact from fiction, and foster a dialogue on how, if possible, to regulate the practice of hydrofracking in a way that is equitable for all parties involved, sensitive to economic concerns but protective of human health and the environment.

A few days before this program, on Monday, April 11 at 5 p.m., Gasland, an Academy Award-nominated documentary film on hydrofracking written and directed by Josh Fox, will be aired in the Tudor Room at Pace Law School, with discussion following.

Often favored by environmentalists, natural gas produces less carbon emissions when burned than oil or coal. But controversy over hydraulic fracturing—a process that extracts natural gas from previously impermeable shale by injecting water, sand and chemicals—has swept the nation in recent years as evidence has emerged of its damaging effects on human health and the environment. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 exempted hydrofracking from significant portions of major environmental laws, including the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Superfund law. Meanwhile, the natural gas industry and individual land owners assert their rights to drill and allow drilling on their properties. The US Environmental Protection Agency, at the direction of Congress, is currently studying potential impacts of hydrofracking on drinking water and groundwater.

The debate over hydrofracking has now reached New York, where natural gas companies are eager to drill in the Marcellus Shale upstate. Last year, outgoing Gov. David Paterson signed a moratorium on hydrofracking, and ordered the state Department of Environmental Conservation to issue a revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement by June 1, 2011, followed by an additional public comment period. The moratorium expires on May 15.

“The use of fracking technology to extract natural gas has been a ‘game changer’ in the long-term U.S. energy strategy,” commented James Van Nostrand. “The widespread use of fracking has produced very low natural gas prices that are forecasted to remain low for the foreseeable future. As a result, natural gas is increasingly being viewed as a transition fuel to a cleaner energy future for the U.S., both in terms of its ability to displace coal-fired electric generation and to serve as a backup fuel for renewable energy resources such as solar and wind. At the same time, serious issues are being raised about the environmental impacts of the fracking process, including imperiling drinking water supplies and the air emissions associated with fracking, such as greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants that contribute to ozone. This program will provide valuable insights into both the advantages and disadvantages of fracking.”


Lauren Rubenstein
Manager, Media Relations
(914) 422-4389
cell (914) 329-8680

Judith Weinstock
Director of Environmental Law Programs
(914) 422-4209

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