Symposium Examines Sustainable Development Implications of Deep Shale Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing

Experts in a variety of fields assembled at Widener Law’s Harrisburg campus on Friday, September 27th for a global symposium to examine the sustainable development implications of deep shale horizontal hydraulic fracturing (known as “fracking,” “fracing,” or “HF.”) called “Marcellus Shale Development and Pennsylvania: What Lessons for Sustainable Energy?” Topics explored during the program examined the practice of hydraulic fracturing and its impact from environmental, community, public health, energy and climate change, and governance perspectives, in the context of sustainability.

Following Dean Linda Ammons’ welcome, Distinguished Professor John C. Dernbach, the codirector of Widener Law’s Environmental Law Center and the conference’s principal organizer, framed the discussion for the day with an overview of just how important and far-reaching the developments in Pennsylvania are for energy, security, and the economy. He observed that the rest of the world can learn from Pennsylvania’s experiences about the prospects of “fostering sustainability of shale gas production.”

The symposium was a collaboration between the campuses sponsored by the Widener Environmental Law Center, and featured the expertise of the Center’s faculty from both campuses. Professor and Environmental Law Center co-director and symposium co-chair James R. May then provided an overview of the myriad technical and legal issues associated with fracking. Center Professors Eggen, Family, Hodas and Kristl also served as panel moderators and/or participants. Law student Timothy Bishop also delivered a lunchtime presentation based on his the 2012-13 Widener Law Journal Best Student Article.article, “North to the Future: Modeling Pennsylvania’s Development of Natural Gas After Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend.”

Other speakers on the opening panel included Diana Stares (Center for Energy Policy & Management, Washington & Jefferson College), and Scott Perry (Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection)

The first substantive panel addressed Public Health and fracking. Panelists included Bernie Goldstein (University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health); Dean Lynn Goldman (George Washington University School of Public Health) (via Skype); and Dean Patricia Salkin (Touro Law School) and Professor Pam Ko (Sage College).

The second panel addressed fracking and Environmental Sustainability. Panelists included moderator Tim Lambert (WITF); Elizabeth Bjerke (University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health); Alan Krupnick (Resources for the Future); Tom Beauduy (Susquehanna River Basin Commission); and John Quigley (John H. Quigley LLC).

The topic of the third panel was Community Sustainability. Panelists included Professor Ross Pifer (Penn State University Law School); Professors Jonathan Williamson and Bonita Kolb (Lycoming College); and Elam Herr (Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors).

Panel 4 examined Governance and Sustainability. Panelists included George Bibikos (K&L Gates LLP); Tom Merrill (Columbia University Law School); Professor David Spence (McCombs School of Business, University of Texas); Terry Bossert (Range Resources-Appalachia LLC), and, Andrew Place (Center for Sustainable Shale Development)

The final panel addressed Energy, Climate Change, and Ethics. Panelists included John Hanger (Eckert Seamans LLC); Don Brown (Widener University Law School); and, John (“Skip”) Laitner (Economic and Human Dimension Research Associates).

Widener Law commends all of the speakers for sharing their expertise on this important topic, and thanks all those who attended – whether in person or via the live webcast!

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