NYSUT Retiree Council No. 4

Hydraulic Fracturing ("fracking") Information Page


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Chautauqua Division hosts "fracking" event at NYSUT SW Regional Hdqtrs.

Hydraulic fracturing of natural gas wells--usually called "fracking"--is almost certainly coming to western NY. The industry claims that there are "two Saudi Arabias" worth of natural gas trapped in the shale formations found underground. With that amount of money in play, we can almost certainly expect to see a significant increase in drilling activity.The real question is how will these drilling activities be regulated so as to avoid some of the "nightmare" situations--such as contamination of water supplies--occuring in other states.

On Tuesday, June 19 the Chautauqua Division of RC4 hosted an informational event concerning fracking. After touring the NYSUT facilities, participants from all three counties served by RC4 enjoyed a buffet lunch and heard a presentation by Mr. Kim Sherwood who is a hydrologist and watershed planner. Originally from the Finger Lakes area of NYS, he spent about 20 years in the western US. Kim has a B.S. in Forest Resource Management and a M.S. in Forest Hydrology. His career in the West included work for the federal Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service, Weyerhaeuser Company and the City of Seattle. He returned to NYS in 2003 and works as a private consultant to help landowners and municipalities address natural resource concerns. As a member of the Chautauqua County Water Quality Task Force, he has participated on three subcommittee reviews of NYS DEC’s proposed protocols and regulations for HVHF (high-volume hydraulic fracturing) horizontal drilling.

During his presentation, Mr. Sherwood addressed the fact that we in the northeast have a thing called winter which brings with it a need for large amounts of energy. He went on to consider the pros and cons of obtaining this energy from the natural gas locked in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations under most of WNY.

The first bullet point on his first slide said, "No pitchforks," and Mr. Sherwood stuck to that throughout the presentation. One of the audience members, who identified himself as an employee of an oil and gas company, commented that--while he might argue with a point or two in the presentation--he was impressed with how even-handed the coverage of the topic had been. The audience generally agreed that whatever Mr. Sherwood's personal opinion of fracking might be, he delivered a down-the-middle presentation touching on the good and the bad and identifying problem areas that still need to be addressed.

Fracking information (note: The following video clips have no connection with Mr. Sherwood's presentation. They are resources obtained and posted by RC4.):

How fracking works:



CBS "60 Minutes" episode from November 14, 2010:


Click here to access a report from nationalgeographic.com on the shale gas boom. You will find much information, good and bad. If you're a homeowner with a private well, be sure to see the story of the Hallowich family. You can click here to go directly to this story. (NOTE: The report is part of National Geographic's Great Energy Challenge, a three-year effort to examine the United States' current energy situation. The initiative is sponsored by Royal Dutch Shell, which recently acquired a stake in the Marcellus shale. National Geographic says it maintained control over all content.)

The following links were suggested by Mr. Sherwood as being good sources of information concerning hydraulic fracturing:

Cornell University Natural Gas Resource Center

Natural Gas - Penn State Extension

Paleontological Research Institution – ‘The Marcellus Papers’

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation – Marcellus Shale