Marcellus Shale Resource Page


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A Message From Brian Sickora

Every day, WSKG strives to provide programming that enriches the lives of the people and communities we serve. Central to our mission is engaging citizens in thoughtful consideration of news and issues of importance to our communities. Drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale is just such an issue.

This webpage is not intended to be an all-inclusive resource of programming related to the many topics surrounding this issue; it is merely our attempt to highlight much of the reporting done on this topic from the Public Broadcasting Community both locally and nationally. We would like this site to be dynamic and plan to update it as new programming is produced.

Obviously, this is a very hot and personal topic for many in our region. Our goal is to facilitate your personal understanding of the issues surrounding this topic.

We've heard the community's concerns about the underwriting of various public media programming by entities which may have an interest in the controversy. Like many media organizations, WSKG has a policy of strict separation between content and underwriting. It's also important to note that we have no financial affiliation with NPR with the exception of purchasing programming from them, we exercise no editorial control over their content, and have no influence over who underwrites their programming.



Brian Sickora
President & CEO
WSKG Public Broadcasting


NPR Special Series

A natural gas boom is under way in the United States, with more than 200,000 wells drilled in just under a decade. But people living on the front door step of the natural gas bonanza have a question: Are these wells creating harmful pollutants? NPR explores why there isn't an answer yet.


Public Hearings

A number of DEC hearings are taking place to receive public comment on the revised Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement and related regulations. Below is both a schedule of upcoming events and an archive of coverage related to those hearings.

Listen to the Innovation Trail's Matt Richmond advance preview of the DEC hearings.

Hearing Audio Archive
Listen to our archival audio of the hearings in both Binghamton and Danville.

A wrap-up report on the Binghamton DEC hearings from the Innovation Trail's Matt Richmond.

Innovation Trail reporter Matt Richmond speaks with WSKG's Gregory Keeler about the Binghamton DEC hearing.

The Innovation Trail's Zack Seward talks to WSKG's Gregory Keeler between DEC hearings in Dansville.


Pathways to Understanding: Our Energy Future

Originally broadcast on WSKG-TV on March 3, 2011 at 8pm, host Crystal Sarakas discusses Marcellus Shale drilling with guests Dr. Susan Christopherson, Professor of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University and Adam Flint, Co-Founder and Board Vice-Chair, Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition.


Community Conversation

Community Conversation, a production of WSKG Public Radio, is a live "town hall" forum exploring topics of interest and importance in our local communities.

Gas Drilling and the dSGEIS - Part 2
The public hearings on the revised draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement are over, but the Department of Environmental Conservation has extended the public comment period until close of business on January 12, 2012.

What is and is not in the d-SGEIS?
Susan Arbetter hosts a special two-hour Community Conversation on natural gas drilling issues.

Gas Drilling and Water Safety
Concerns about gas drilling, frac'ing, and water safety in the Marcellus Shale region.
Guests: Susan Riha, Cornell University; Scott Rotruck, Chesapeake Energy

Natural Gas Drilling in the Marcellus Shale
Two groups involved in public education about gas drilling share their research and work on gas drilling.
Guests: Kevin Mathers,Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County; Rod Howe, Cornell Cooperative Extension; Andy Fagan, Tioga Investigates Natural Gas

Marcellus Shale Drilling
Look at the issue of gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale.
Guests: Wes Gillingham, Catskill Mountain Keepers; John Holko & Brad Gill, IOGANY; Mike Lovegreen, Bradford County Conservation Society


Innovation Trail

The Innovation Trail is a collaboration between five upstate New York public media outlets that helps the public gain a better understanding of the connection between technological breakthroughs and the revitalization of upstate New York's economy.

DEC extends public comment period on fracking
Bowing to pressure from environmental groups and the public, the state's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is extending the public comment period on its draft hyrdofracking regulations.

Challenge to Dryden fracking ban could echo across New York State
The Town of Dryden faces a lawsuit, filed by the gas company Anschutz Exploration, that could throw out the town's ban of hydraulic fracturing. If that happens, towns across New York that have banned fracking within their boundaries may have to repeal those laws, giving the state full control over gas drilling.

'Utica Shale' could push gas drilling further north
Most of the focus surrounding hydrofracking in New York has been on the geological formation known as the Marcellus Shale. But an application has been filed to drill into the deeper Utica Shale, expanding the area in New York that may see drilling.

Lawmakers grill environmental regulators on fracking
If hydrofracking comes to New York, the state's Department of Environmental Conservation will handle permitting and regulations for gas company operations. This has raised concerns among lawmakers from both parties about whether or not the DEC has the resources to regulate what is expected to be a huge demand for drilling permits.

Enviros seek 'hazardous' classification for drilling waste
During hydrofracking, a huge amount of water goes into the ground to free up the gas. That water comes back up as a mixture of water, chemicals, and materials that were underground before the water went in. That wastewater poses disposal problems for regulators and gas companies, some groups are calling for tighter regulations so it won't go to municipal treatment facilities.

DEC:Water supplies will be tested before fracking begins
The major concern surrounding hydrofracking is the potential contamination of water sources. The DEC has said that, before a well is drilled, nearby water sources will have to be tested and then retested during drilling. It is not yet clear whether the companies or regulators will be in charge of the testing.

How to monitor the gas industry online
Many residents of New York have become familiar with 'landmen' in the last couple of years. They are agents sent to convince landowners sign over their mineral and/or surface rights so gas companies can drill or build well pads on their land. A website has been created where landowners can check on the landman who comes knocking on their door.

The front lines of fracking get personal
More about the practices of some of the landmen working in the Marcellus Shale region.

'Compulsory integration' takes heat for forcing drilling on landowners
The controversial practice known as compulsory integration has come under fire for forcing reluctant landowners to lease their mineral rights if enough of their neighbors sign leases. While touted as necessary for the efficient development of natural gas resources, many landowners are not happy about having drilling forced on them.

First findings of Cornell study on Marcellus drilling in New York: proceed with caution
A Cornell study on the impacts of Marcellus Shale exploration urged the state to proceed with extreme caution: a wide variety of risks to the environment and quality of life could easily outweigh the benefits of natural gas production.

Live-blogging the Binghamton EPA hearing
A 2010 public hearing on hydraulic fracturing in Binghamton, which is expected to be a center of natural gas industry activity in the Marcellus Shale, drew pointed questions and strong opposition to fracking as the EPA kicked off its national study of fracking's impacts.

To see a full list of the Innovation Trail's reporting on hydrofracking, visit:


The Capitol Pressroom

The Capitol Pressroom is a daily one-hour public radio news magazine broadcast from the heart of the New York's political hub: The Legislative Correspondents Association Pressroom, on the 3rd floor of the State Capitol in Albany.

The ins & outs of Anschutz v Dryden with two attorneys, Patricia Salkin, Dean of the Government Law Center at Albany Law School, and author of the blog, "Law of the Land"; and Elmira attorney Chris Denton, counsel to several land owners groups.

If you're hearing about "One Million Fracking Letters" you must live in upstate New York. Capitol Perssroom meets the environmentalists behind this anti-hydrofracking PR campaign. Guests will be William Cooke of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment and The Sierra Club's Roger Downs.

Hudson Valley State Senator Greg Ball (R) wants Governor Cuomo to tour regions in Pennsylvania badly impacted by gas drilling; plus, he's pushing legislation called the Property Owner's Bill of Rights that will create new standards for safe hydrofracking in New York.

Environmentalists aren't thrilled with the DEC's SGEIS, and apparently neither is the oil and gas industry. Capitol Pressroom speaks with industry attorney Tom West of the West Law Firm and the former head of the DEC's Mineral Division Greg Sovas about the problems they have with the draft, as well as the history of New York State's laws governing gas drilling.

Elizabeth Radow, Special Counsel in the firm of Cuddy and Feder, with duel expertise in real estate finance law and transactional law has some legal advice for New Yorkers who have signed leases with gas drillers. Specifically, she has up-to-date information about insuring yourself against liability. Radow is in the New York State Bar Association's Real Property and Environmental, Energy and Resources Section.

The Dryden town Supervisor, Mary Ann Sumner, discusses why her community passed a ban on fracking, and her reaction to the lawsuit filed by Anschutz Exploration. And then the other side of the story with Anschutz attorney Tom West. He will also discuss the concept of Force Majeure, which gas companies are using to extend leases in New York.

Sandra Steingraber, Scholar-in-Residence at Ithaca College and well-known biologist, author, poet and activist against hydrofracking joins Capitol Pressroom to discuss her health impact research into the issue.

The 2nd portion of the DEC's SGEIS dealing with the economic and community impacts of hydrofracking will be released today, marking the beginning of the final 60-day comment period.  Bill Cooke of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment will join Capitol Pressroom to discuss the "One Million Fracking Letters" campaign, an initiative to send the Governor a powerful message on the  fracking issue. Plus, in the wake of Irene, Dusty Horwitt of the Environmental Working Group in Washington DC speaks about the consequences of hydrofracking on a flood plain.

The Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York has released the first video in a series designed to educate New Yorkers about the economic and environmental benefits of increased natural gas development in upstate regions, including the Southern Tier. Hydrogeologist and IOGA-NY board member John Conrad of Conrad Geosciences discusses why the group has invested in this project.

Two members of the DEC's "fracking" committee speak with Capitol Pressroom:  Binghamton Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D - 126th District) and Mark Boling, Executive Vice President for Southwestern Energy.

Capitol Pressroom continues to monitor the concerns of the tiny Tompkins County Council of Governments Task Force on Gas Drilling Assessment and Land Valuation Subcommittee.   Chair person Carol Chock joins the show; she and other Tompkins County officials worry that even as the state is pouring over the 1000-plus page SGEIS, Tompkins County is unable to obtain information on properties with leased wells.  Chock and mortgage lender Greg May, Vice President, Residential Mortgage Lending, Tompkins Trust Company, both join Capitol Pressroom with the latest, and how they plan to move forward.

Oil & Gas isn't the only industry eyeing the Marcellus. Insurance carriers like Liberty International Underwriters which insure companies involved in the range of processes surrounding and including drilling, are looking to mine a little gold from shale.  What are their concerns?   The show asks Dan Reynolds, a senior editor at Risk & Insurance Magazine.

The SGEIS: Don Siegel, Professor of Earth Sciences at Syracuse University v. Anthony "Tony" Ingraffea, Professor of Engineering at Cornell University.



Environmental Impacts

"The Trouble With Health Problems Near Gas Fracking" (Fresh Air, 9/29/11)
"Worries Over Water As Natural Gas Fracking Expands" (ME, 8/2/11)
"As Focus On Fracking Sharpens, Fuel Worries Grow" (ME, 7/13/11)
"Air Quality Concerns Threaten Natural Gas' Image" (June 21, 2011)
"Fracking Brings Jobs and Pollution To Town" (TOTN, 6/2/11)
"New Energy Technology Leaves Landowners Worried" (ATC, 5/25/11)
"Study Links Methane In Water To Gas Extraction" (TOTN, 5/13/11)
"Natural Gas May Not Be 'Clean' Energy Source" (ATC, 4/16/11)
"Drilling Poses Risk To Pennsylvania Water Supplies" (ATC, 6/16/10)
"Josh Fox: Living in the Middle of a 'Gasland'" (Fresh Air, 6/10/10)
"Natural Gas As A Climate Fix Sparks Friction" (ME, 2/23/10)

Economic Impacts

"What is the Future of Natural Gas Drilling in the US?" (ATC, 10/17/11)
"Haliburton Gets Boost From Increased Drilling" (AP, 10/17/11)
Gas Drilling Boom Brings New Life To Steel Industry (ME, October 13, 2011)
"Daniel Yergin Examines America's 'Quest' for Energy" (ME, 9/20/11)
"SEC Jumps Into Fight Over Fracking" (ATC, 8/25/11)
"Natural Gas Fuels Economy in Pennsylvania" (ME, 9/21/10)


"Towns See Crime, Carousing Surge Amid Gas Boom" (AP, 10/26/11)
"Spin Overtaking Facts In Marcellus Shale Debate" (AP, 9/26/11)
"Energy Panel Wants Answers on Gas Fracking" (ME, 8/11/11)
"France Moves To Ban Shale Gas Drilling" (ME, 5/12/11)
"Tracking Oil & Gas Rigs in the US (Yes, There's An App)" (Two-Way, 4/1/11)
"Oil, Gas Firms Find It Harder To Drill On US Land" (ME, 1/5/11)

Ombudsman Reports

"Covering an Oil Boom: Techno, Tone, and Impact" (10/7/11)
"Hydraulic Spinning: Oil Industry Favored in Fracking Story?" (9/9/11)
"NPR's Useful, But Flawed, Series on Natural Gas" (10/16/09)



Fractivists: Slowing the Gash Rush
"In the past few years, natural gas fracking has become a near-household word as landowners in the path of drilling have mounted efforts to slow its rapid pace of development in the U.S. and worldwide. We continue our coverage of this crucial issue with a program about citizen efforts across partisan lines to raise questions about the downsides of fracking and promote what they consider to be cleaner, greener alternatives." (Create a free PRX account to hear the program in its entirety.)