Colleges Present on Hydrofracking – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Colleges Present on Hydrofracking

Professor of Economics Tom Drennen, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Beth Kinne, Jeff Bilharz ’11 and Anna Hertlein ’12 recently presented on horizontal hydraulic fracturing – or hydrofracking – at Vine Valley Community Center on Canandaigua Lake.

“The talk was well attended by locals on a very hot night, showing the level of interest in this topic,” says Drennen. “I was particularly impressed by my fellow presenters.  The audience was really engaged; it was a great evening.”

Bilharz, who recently received a B.S. in chemistry and a B.A. in environmental studies, presented the audience of residents from across the Finger Lakes with the technical aspects and technological challenges of horizontal hydraulic fracturing – including details of water transfers, treatment, and storage. Drennen followed, providing information about natural gas and how it fits in with everyday energy needs.

With this foundation of information, Kinne then discussed the basic legal framework involved in the hydrofracking process – laying out the logistics of getting permits, as well as state and federal legislation. Hertlein, a public policy major who has spent her summer researching with Kinne, completed the presentation by laying out options for towns and municipalities to take to protect themselves when facing hydraulic fracturing, which can often present negative consequences.

“It was great to speak to a group of informed citizens. It is very easy to jump to conclusions regarding such a hot topic, but members of the Vine Valley Community Center were sincerely interested in learning more about the impacts of Marcellus Shale development,” remarks Hertlein, who was excited to present her research on municipal responses in New York State to the potential development of the Marcellus Shale natural gas reserve.

“I have learned two things from this experience: people are rational and people are passionate,” says Bilharz, who conducted research with Kinne. “When an issue that has the potential to threaten our health presents itself, there will always be someone there to take action against it.”

Linda Sheive, Vine Valley Community House President and Professor Emeritus of Oswego State University, was particularly impressed with the presentation and the response of the community on this pertinent issue. 

 “We here in Vine Valley are appreciative of the Colleges for providing us with these outstanding resources,” remarks Sheive. “As a result of the session, I attended the two-day conference prepared by Beth Kinne and came away vastly more informed.  Hobart and William Smith Colleges are providing superb service to the local community.”