Engelder and Ingraffea on Natural Gas, Nuclear and Renewables

This week we attended a debate between a supporter of natural gas, Terry Engelder, and well-known natural gas opponent, Tony Ingraffea, who seems to oppose natural gas full-time while on the Cornell faculty.  The debate was in Dundee, New York where the town is considering a moratorium on natural gas development. 

Joe and I drove to the event from Binghamton, New York and counted at least three natural gas wells on Seneca Lake as we passed through.  We knew the debate would be a heated topic and we were right.  There were many supporters on both sides of the issue and the total attendance was somewhere between 200-300 people.

It was a spirited but respectful discussion by all involved, but one thing stood out. That thing was  some inconsistencies in what Tony Ingraffea had to offer.

The setup of the debate was typical, with opening arguments, questions (this time from the audience), and closing remarks.  Dr. Engelder did a phenomenal job discussing natural gas and debating Dr. Ingraffea.  Each speaker had 30 minutes to state their opening arguments.

Engelder’s opening remarks provided essential background covering how the industry has evolved.  He also noted he had grown up in the Finger Lakes region himself.  He informed the audience that while he completely supports natural gas, for very important reasons, he would never want to see anything negative happen to his hometown as a result of it, explaining that everything has risks and it’s a matter of evaluating and managing them.  Natural gas development risks, Engelder stated, were extremely minimal compared to the great benefits to be had. (See video below at 1:24)

He noted he may have been one of the first people to realize the potential of the shale gas resource in the area because of what he learned early on from the perspective of a geologist.  He understood, in 2007, it was going to be a game changer and would be integral to  renewable energy implementation.  There is risk associated with everything but, in order to get to renewable energy, we have to use natural gas as a bridge fuel, according to Engelder.

“It’s all about natural gas, there is no other route.”

Engelder also discussed his philosophy with respect to natural gas development.  Observing the fact farmers own most of the land in the area and are in desperate need of economic help, he suggested there is a large moral issue unfolding with the natural gas debate.  Holding out on farmers who are losing their land, homes and livelihood is extremely immoral, he said, leading him to conclude the risks are reasonable and natural gas development must proceed, especially given the the ability to manage those risks.

He used the impact of automobiles on human life as an illustration.  He talked about the risks associated with driving and the number of accidents  in recent years, noting the latter had decreased because the automobile industry has made safer cars.  No industry is static, he explained, and the natural gas industry has done the  same thing as the car industry.  Risks are still present, but steadily decreasing as the industry evolves and are very manageable compared to other activities.

Engelder then moved on to talking about the number of natural gas wells in the area.  He told the audience they are likely to hear there will be hundreds of well pads in the area, and some folks opposed to natural gas would like others to think there are no well pads in the finger lakes region.  This is a myth, an untruth.  There are about 100 wells in the Finger lakes and, as we mentioned above and observed ourselves.  These wells are even found next to several wineries who claim they oppose natural gas development (14:40).

The Penn State professor also talked about other things occurring in the area that are potentially much more harmful to the lakes than natural gas development could ever be.  He mentioned, as one example, salt spread on the roads each winter nearly every day; salt that runs off the roads, down the banks and into the lakes without being noticed by anyone.

Keuka Lake Gas Well

    Keuka Lake Gas Well Surrounded By Growing Grapes

Engelder also addressed truck traffic, which seems to be a big argument from our friends on the other side of the natural gas debate. He said, yes, there will be increased truck traffic but it is not permanent, but, rather, a temporary issue as individual well pads are developed and then finished.

He also discussed renewable energy, explaining that wineries, for example, would not be able to produce what they needed in the way of electricity from solar alone because the sun doesn’t shine 24/7/365.  We can generate more electricity for the wineries, with natural gas thereby helping tourism expand (not to mention the economic contributions of natural gas in allowing farmers to pay the taxes on their land and hold onto it).

You can watch all of Terry Engelder’s presentation below.

Post debate there was a question and answer session where audience participants wrote down questions on index cards and the moderator read them to Engelder and Ingraffea.  While this method was effective in getting rid of repeat questions it was sometimes difficult to hear the question being asked.  This occurred with our question, as it involved some prelude.

Our full question (drafted by Joe) was as follows:

Mr. Ingraffea, I attended a recent lecture you gave to a classroom of students at Cornell.  The presentation was about how developing shale gas was not a route we should be taking right now and that, instead, we should be investing in other energy.  After your presentation you posed a question to your class asking them what other kinds of energy could be used to offset the need to develop natural gas.  Many answered by saying fossil fuels should be taken offline and renewable energy should be ramped up to cover our energy needs.  You and I both know cheap abundant energy is a necessity, especially with our energy needs increasing every year.  You then unveiled your idea to slowly bring fossil fuel burning offline and to supply that energy using nuclear energy.  As you know nuclear energy needs a fuel – uranium.  My question to you is that with the uranium lode recently found in Virginia and that state’s intent to develop this resource, do you support this development of the fuel needed for nuclear power?

Ingraffea inexplicably denied ever saying ramping up nuclear is a way to offset the energy being produced from fossil fuels.  He then went on to bash Energy in Depth and accuse us of taking things out of context.  Here, however, is what Dr. Ingraffea said during his presentation at Cornell, when he asked his class if they’d like to see his predictions on addressing climate change:

…20% decrease in energy needs in the United States, small scale hydro, importing hydro from Canada, increase biomass, more nuclear (don’t shoot me), no coal, drastic decrease in fossil fuels… (44:45)

Here is the video of him offering these predictions, while asking his class not to laugh:

So we know Tony Ingraffea did say this.  Yet, when, when he “answers” our question, he explicitly denies ever saying it.  See video below:

Ingraffea did offer nuclear energy as part his solution for addressing climate change.  That much is clear. Is he a fan of nuclear?  Obviously, not, but that’s the point isn’t it?  His predictions, the ones he relies upon to suggest we can drastically reduce fossil fuel use in the next several years, rely upon a composite of alternatives that only produce what he wants us to believe is possible, if he includes things he says he also opposes. His package, in other words, only works for the moment, until he is confronted with the opposition to nuclear, wind or whatever, at which point he’s against that, too.  It reminds us of the opposition by RFK, Jr. to wind power off Cape Cod and his changed position on natural gas.  Energy opponents, particularly NIMBY types, are always for something as an alternative until they’re against it.

Following the debate we had a chance to speak to Dr. Engelder about how he thought it went.  He stated it was a good opportunity for the two sides to come together and discuss options for our growing energy needs.

Engelder’s final comments can be viewed below.

The debate stayed very composed the whole way through. The sponsors didn’t allow signs or much distraction from the debate and the audience abided by the rules. The audience also had many of their questions answered and it was clear both speakers are enthusiastic about renewable energy for the long-term, but have quite different ideas about the short-term.


  1. Meryl Solar says:

    Isn’t it funny how people can watch the same debate and come away with very different opinions? My feeling is that Engelders comment that “economics trumps everything else” (which includes risks to our water, air and health) was the most telling. That, and his statement that all of these debates between himself and Ingraffea have been at the request of those in opposition to NG development and none from the pro-gassers. Could that be because those who care about the water and air want to know the truth, the pro-gassers only want to hear their own words repeated over and over and are afraid of the truth.

    Why is it that your website only includes snippets of the debate? Why not provide a link to the entire debate and let people decide for themselves instead of being subjected only to your slanted perceptions. Here is a link to the entire debate.

    Dundee Debate

    (There are minor problems with the audio early into the video. Please endure it. A higher quality audio and HD video version will be available within a week.) Once again, PA is held up the example of a failed industrial experiment, and we are reminded that what has been developed in PA is only the tip of the iceberg.

    • Tom Shepstone says:

      We are pleased to share the link. If you think Terry was saying economics trumps everything you were not listening. He’s saying you can’t let any one factor trump things, which is your position, apparently.

      • Meryl Solar says:

        Oh, I was listening, and just listened again. Actually, it’s exactly what he said. If you watch the video, at minute 10:23 he says, “why did I take this point of view?”. Then refers to the “Iron Law of Climate Policy” to which he subscribes and is explained at minute 11:18 as: “Economic growth always wins”. This is clearly stated by Engelder as the foundation for all his arguments.
        I guess you can pick and choose the parts from his speech that serve your purposes, and Tom, we all know what your agenda is, but frankly, I prefer to live in a world where the protection of the natural resources we depend on for life – water and air, is always deemed more important than “keeping the lights on at all costs”. (especially when there are alternatives). Past civilizations have survived quite well by the light of the sun and the moon. But without the protection of our water and air, well I’m sure you can figure out where this sentence is going.

        It is no secret that haphazard spills, leaks, faulty casings from inadequate cement jobs and poor regulations and oversight have caused many families across PA to now receive a water buffalo, vent stack, and daily delivery of potable water to meet their families needs. Regardless of the claims that “PA’s water has always been bad”, prior to drilling it did not make them sick.
        Not sure about you, but I can put 2 & 2 together. I’m not saying that development of natural gas should never be done, I’m only saying that until technologies, regulations, and better methods for oversight are in place that WILL protect our water and air, this self destructive rush towards the development (and export) of our gas MUST stop.

        • Tom Shepstone says:

          Economic growth is essential because you can create wealth without it and it is wealth that allows us to protect the environment, which is why East Germany, before it fell, was one of the dirtiest places on the planet. Economic growth is also essential to health which is why health indicators in the Barnett Shale region are improving. There is no reason to have to choose between economic growth and environmental protection – we can have both and the whole point is that all risks are subject to evaluation and management. You make several outlandish statements about what’s happening in PA that indicate you are assigning an infinite value to the risks which is anything but justified.

          • Tom Frost says:

            East Germany – Ha! You mean like the gate of the picnic of your buddy Cabot?

          • Meryl Solar says:

            I made my comments on this post but really had no intention of getting into a dialog with anyone from EID. I am fully aware that doing so is hopeless, and I don’t have time for that. But you made an accusation that I feel the need to respond to. I’m not exactly sure which comments you see as outlandish, but if you mean my statement about the problems occurring across PA, you’re right. They are outlandish, but sadly, they are true. For about a year and half I have been keeping track of everything associated with this industry’s activities in my county – the well pads, wells, compressors, water usage, pipelines, and most importantly, violations, accidents, incidents of contamination, etc. In most cases you will not hear of the incidents because the vast majority of those affected have been made to sign legal gag-orders in exchange for emergency water replacement, and the few who dare to speak up are ostracized. My statements are all true, but again sadly, the majority of people in my community are hoping the checks will start to flow along with the gas, and they don’t want to know anymore about it – and therein lies the real problem. How can we even attempt to make the processes safer if we keep insisting the problems don’t exist?

            You may have a point in regard to your perceived relationship between economic growth and environmental health, but there are other factors such as conservation and development of renewable resources that can more significantly contribute to environmental health. They also require much less in terms of wealth to keep the environment healthy because they do not inherently cause more damage. Subscribing to the dictates of the fossil fuel industry is NOT the only path to economic growth. It is however the only path to the economic growth of the fossil fuel industry – and they will continue to do all they can to safeguard that growth – at any cost to the communities they invade.

            I am sorry for you Tom, that you have so succumbed to the industry propaganda that it appears it has become all you know. Or maybe it’s just your job.

            By the way, I’m not assigning as you say, “an infinite value to the risks”. I am assigning an infinite value to clean water, clean air, and to the health and sustainability of our species. What do you assign infinite value to?

          • Tom Shepstone says:

            You just proved my point.

          • Sun Soaked says:

            page 13 NIMBY HANDBOOK

            razzal dazzal clean energy

          • Loren Salsman says:

            You don’t have a clue about what’s going on in PA.

          • Meryl Solar says:

            Loren, is your comment addressed to me?
            I don’t know where you are, but I live here in Susquehanna County, PA. Because it is already in “my backyard”, I have been visiting neighbors who’s wells have recently become contaminated, communicating with people from our DEP, and visiting well pads under development to speak with the on-site project managers to learn more about the processes and potentials for failures that could cause such problems – and what THEY suggest could be done to prevent them – and there is much that could be made a requirement. I have also been made fully aware that PA has the least regulation on this industry out of all the other states, even Texas.

            I do this because a well pad had been planned for 1500 feet away from my front door, which is now in place. They have only just completed the first vertical piece of the first well for that pad (they will be back in 2 months to drill the horizontal). This pad will eventually have 6 wells on it – with one of those verticals ending at least 1500 feet away from the pad itself, and right under my property, and it is a known fact that it is from failed casing in the vertical bores that have the greatest potential to cause the problems that have occurred in so many areas. The myth is that these verticals are contained completely under the well pad itself and any problems are contained to that area.
            Sorry to have to correct you here, but unlike most, it is because I live in the middle of this that I have been paying such close attention to what’s been heading my way and what is being left in its wake. And unlike most, I have much more than just a “clue” as to what is really happening in PA.

          • Nicole Jacobs says:

            Meryl, Loren may not check back in to respond to you right away, but in the meantime, here is a guest post he did awhile back on his experience having his well included in the Consent Order in Dimock. http://eidmarcellus.org/blog/i-know-contamination-and-theres-none-in-dimock/2890/

          • David Duncan says:


            If not natural gas, what should we use to power the economy?

            Solar, as your name suggests? But how will solar cells generate power at night?

            Wind? What do we do when the wind doesn’t blow?

            I’m all for more nuclear. Are you?

            What alternative to fossil fuels exists?

          • Paul Roden says:

            There is a plan for powering the planet 100 % with renewable energy by 2030 without fossil fuel or nuclear power. Put out in the the Nov. 2009 Scientifica American, Jacobson and Delucchi, scientists at the University of California at Davis and Stanford Univerisity, their plan involves development of a smart electric grid, putting solar panels on very south facing building and unarable piece of land, geothermal power, tidal power, hydroelectric, hydrogen, pumped strorage hydroelectric power, wind and wind turbine farms, conservation, energy efficient machines and lighting, tidal power, passive solar and rechargeable batteries. They have revised their plan in the journal Energy Policy, factoring out the use of biomass fuels, which woud certainly still play a role in any energy plan, but they say we can still reach the goal by 2030.
            The Germans are also embarked on a plan to power their country 80 % by 2016 with renewable energy and shut down their nuclear power plants. Their economy is growing and their consumption of energy is going down. I was there this past summer. They are not “starving and freezing in the dark.” The German Chancellor, the German Parliment, from left to right, Conservative to Green are united behind this plan. How did they overcome the money and lobbying of the fossil, nuclear and electric power lobbyists? Imagine if our Congress and state governments adapted a similar plan. But it seems the lobbyists own our elected leaders here in this country. It takes “political will” to make this happen in the US. If the Germans can do it, we can do it. There are more of us than their are of the rich, greedy, selfish, short sighted power and utility companies who don’t give a damn about the environment, only the quick fast buck.

          • Tom Shepstone says:

            Germany is cutting solar subsidies and building coal power plants.

          • NY4GAS says:

            tom, where’s p.roden’s reply to the fact that germany is building the new coal plants? even germany is tired of pretending renewables are the answer! they aren’t just building a couple coal fired generation plants, they are buiulding 23 of them. Paul, we are waiting for your answer.

    • Linda Blossom says:

      Dr. Engelder did a phenomenal job
      That thing was some inconsistencies in what Tony Ingraffea had to offer.

      These two comments illustrate why this website is not a source of unbiased and honest information. It is opinions written by pitbulls. The bulk of the writing was lauding Dr Engelder’s participation and the rest a criticism of what Ingraffea said. You would not know truth if it bit you because you don’t look for it. You want to hear what reinforces your beliefs.

      • Tom Shepstone says:

        Opinions written by pit bulls? Hmm…

        We are a pro-gas site and have no obligation to award space to any opinion but our own but we allow you and many others comment in the interest of engaging in discussion and helping us understand each other. Is that so bad?

  2. Vic Furman says:

    By now many of you have received a flyer in the mail asking:


    I am sure you find this flyer to be repulsive in nature and an attack on your intelligence just as I do. This is however an example of what we are up against when it comes to protecting and obtaining our rights to access our minerals. The anti’s are well financed and we are not. The good thing is though calling the governor and leaving him a message is free. So please call the Governor at the number provided on the flyer (1-518-474-8390) and tell him that your angry that the Castkill Citizens for Safe Energy sent you a misleading flyer meant to scare your family into believing there mis informational flyer and that you were not fooled. Tell the Governor that you know drilling can be done safe in NY just like it is being done in dozens of states across the country.

    Victor Furman

    • Linda Blossom says:

      Funny, we don’t have a single gas company giving us money. Most of us are neighbors spending their own money to keep this industry away.

      • Tom Shepstone says:

        You and the Park family, the Rockefeller family, the Heinz family, etc.

  3. Richard Latker says:

    Wish I’d been able to attend.

    Merly: Thanks for the link, but I could not get the Shaleshock video of the debate to play at all. I’m trying to access it from outside the country, which may be the problem.

    I think it would be disingenuous for EID if it did NOT put its own slant on the report. Their job is to promote a pro-frack position, and that is precisely what one should expect here. I thank them for their perspective, and for posting this.

  4. Tom Frost says:

    EID might better have shown more of Ingraffea while it was at it instead of pretending to be a friend of Engelder, because the difference between EID and Engelder is BIG. Engelder promotes natural gas only as a bridge fuel. EID doesn’t.

  5. Ed Leighton says:

    Natural gas is a bridge fuel, until we run out of it, then the global economy is back to coal and nuclear. We are dependent on a hydrocarbon economy, get over it.

    • Richard Latker says:

      Depending on your time frame, they are ALL bridge fuels. Even uranium is a finite resource, and unless we start building scores of breeder reactors, we’re quite likely to run out of nuclear fuel well before the end of the century.

      Oil production is, of course, already peaking, even with the ramp-up in US production.

      There will always be some oil and gas left, but once it takes more than a barrel of oil’s worth of energy to extract a barrel of oil, the game is up. There are huge coal reserves remaining on the planet and we haven’t burned through even half the original supply yet. But we will, probably within half a century.

      No, I don’t have any answers.

      • fred jones says:

        I think the most important points of focus in the finite fossil fuel debate are two things…….conservation of the resource, no matter how much or how little is argued that the world including the US has, here or on any other forum. The second important point is a word called “efficiency” How efficient we consume it. Those two thought have two enemies folks……..it’s called world population growth. The first two MUST be done wisely, to counter balance population growth. The other enemy of those two is a thing called corporate profits and the drive to drill.

        • Tom Shepstone says:

          Your snarky “corporate profits” comments are very revealing, Fred. but I find it most interesting that you think world population growth is a threat. We are facing massive social problems down the road precisely because world population growth is on the wane. You can see it everywhere, but especially in rural New York where schools are dying for lack of students. Every achievement in the way of social welfare is threatened by population decline because so many of these things are pyramid schemes of what sort or another and depend on growth among the young to support the old. It can’t go on forever and reform will be essential, but the problem will only be exacerbated by the population declines we are facing. Rural areas are demonstrating where we’re headed. Europe is in deep trouble due to lack of growth. Russia is dying from lack of growth. Even China faces a future decline. Check the numbers and educate yourself about what’s really happening.

          • fred jones says:

            There you go assuming again Tom. I thought we had beat that horse enough my old friend, but that’s ok. You yourself have argued that profits are a necessity and a good thing for development. I agree. But the need to drill is also necessary for NG companies to remain solvent. You can’t survive on existing wells. Look at the projections in PA for future well permits. This IS their business, but the business has provided the consumer (that would be you and I) with a windfall called cheap NG, but at current prices, what $3 something a therm, is not sustainable in making money, so our windfall will be their demise if prices remain this low. I’m sure you have a graph for disputing this, so I await the rebuttal. I did check the “numbers”Tom. According to current projections, the global population will reach eight billion by 2030, and will likely reach around nine billion by 2050. Alternative scenarios for 2050 range from a low of 7.4 billion to a high of more than 10.6 billion. In the long run, future global population growth is difficult to predict. The United Nations and the US Census Bureau both give different estimates. Death rates can change unexpectedly due to disease, war and other mass catastrophes, or advances in medicine, so Tom, one could say the jury is out on your assessment.You also have to understand, where the big energy draws are. That would be the US, China and India, for starters.India and China are NOT declining in population and they suck up a lot of resources. They constitute about 37% of the world’s population. By 2030 China’s population is expected to reach 1.6 billion. Demographers expect India’s population to surpass the population of China, currently the most populous country in the world, by 2030. Now……are rural areas of the US depopulating as you say? Yes…..post-World War II rural flight has been caused primarily by the spread of industrialized agriculture. Small, labor-intensive family farms have grown into, or have been replaced by, heavily mechanized and specialized industrial farms.

          • Tom Shepstone says:

            No, even China is going to face a demographic implosion at current rates.


            India’s growth rate is also declining:


            And, it’s not just rural areas but Europe and nearly everywhere else that face demographic issues and not the ones you’re talking about.

          • fred jones says:

            Tom……….I’ve found a dozen links with different projections. Some more….some less……..some flat through 2050. Some with peaks……..some with dips……….and so on. This debate is unsettled as the data and sources are unsettled. If you do a more extensive search on the subject, you’ll find exactly what I did, so lets be honest with each other. If you would like, I can link all the articles and studies that back up my position, but we both know that’s just blowing smoke as the numbers are all over the place. I’m not sure if NG is going to save any exodus from rural communities. In NY, there are many who live in rural areas and work in nearby cities and towns. As a old country boy, living in the sticks, I have actually seen our fallow farm fields fill up with new homes in the past 40 years and that trend continues. I thinks it is wishful thinking on EID’s part that some how, NG will turn our rural areas back to the “good old days”. Besides, there IS only so much NG in the ground, so sooner or later, we’ll be right back to where we are today. And……looking at the deposits here in the US, NG is NOT under everyone and in every state, at least enough to tap and NG companies turn some kind of profit, which few if any are doing now at $3 a therm. Gold rush days are numbered.

          • fred jones says:

            A quick note Tom…..your link on India says it will PEAK by 2060……which means it’s growing, not declining, unless they’ve changed the English language on us both 🙂 Interesting China report……..but like all population assessments, there are a lot of caveats in his piece, things that must happen, for his numbers to come to fruition, like most of the reports I’ve found, including the UN’s projections I posted above.

          • Robert Nolan says:

            Tom….the revulsion to corporations/corporate profits and the belief that civilization/world population are killing the planet are both hallmarks of the buffoons in the Deep Green Resistance cadre…..as are their ubiquitous single digit IQ’s.

          • fred jones says:

            Bob, the hallmark of a low IQ is the inability to debate, in a civilized respectful manner, when you POV differs from others and one has to resort to ridicule. I trust big business like I trust big government. Sorry if you can’t get your head around such a simple, basic concept. I’m not alone either Bob. And if profits before people makes you giddy, then I truly pity you and will pray for you next church meeting.

          • Tom Shepstone says:
          • Robert Nolan says:

            Fred….we’re not talking POV here. We’re talking facts, something you’ve clearly got in short supply.

          • Tom Shepstone says:

            Interestingly, I tried to send Fred some facts today by e-mail because it had to do with a side issue not directly related to gas. Lo and behold, the e-mail got bounced back. Fred has assured me he’s real and I took him on his word. Now I’m wondering.

      • David Duncan says:

        Richard Latker,

        No, oil production is not Peaking.

        The faster more wells are drilled, the faster aggregate global production will increase to new peaks.

        There are vast untapped reserves on or near almost every continent.

        • Richard Latker says:

          David wrote: ” The faster more wells are drilled, the faster aggregate global production will increase to new peaks. There are vast untapped reserves on or near almost every continent.”

          No one I know in the industry really believes this. The low-hanging fruit is long gone in most places. With few exceptions (see below), the “vast untapped reserves” are locked in geological strata, or are heavy tars, both requiring equally vast amounts of energy to extract.

          Higher prices certainly help the industry access some of these formerly non-viable reserves. But once it takes more than a barrel of oil to extract a barrel of oil, harvesting ends, no matter what the price of oil is.

          Among the few exceptions referenced above are probable reserves around the poles, a few spots in tropical Africa where warfare prevails, and in some Asian locations where exploration has been hampered by geo-political disputes — namely, the Spratlys. There is a reasonably good chance of a few more significant strikes east of the northern rockies in both the US and Canada.

          But the chances that global crude production in 2030 will exceed that in 2013 are virtually zero. Mexico is in decline, and Brazil is plateauing despite the most aggressive offshore operations the world has ever seen. Production will peak in the north sea within the decade, and Platts believes both Iran and Saudi Arabia have no where to go but down. China’s fields are in rapid decline, and despite the recent uptick, US production peaked in 1970 and will never reach that level again.

        • fred jones says:

          David…….you might want to read this piece. You are buying industry hype. Richard hits the nail on the head.


  6. Lorne Amos says:

    From reviewing this I see the anti gas group in your Country is the same as here in Canada-spread lies and half truths, run and hide when faced with facts, and deny having said anything that you heard them say. Could it be, and the names here shows that it is, that your Country exported these “know it all” people to us? Gee, thanks !!

    • Victor Furman says:

      most of our anti’s are people who ran to Canada during Vietnam to avoid going to war and instead let others fight and die in their place. They are the same ones who hate
      “Drill a well, Bring home a Soldier.

      • fred jones says:

        Easy Vic……..easy.

      • Tom says:

        Absolutely nailed that one, Vic!

  7. Thanks for this story and the videos! I have never been to the Finger Lakes region but hope to go there next summer.

    My approach is to show how much air pollution can be lowered by using natural gas.

    Producing and using natural gas is the best solution for base power, in conjunction with solar, wind, geothermal etc. There is plenty of natural gas all around the world, and it can be accessed with new and future technology.

  8. Richard Latker says:

    I was able to watch the Dundee presentation of EID’s link at:


    There are some audio gaps early on but these diminish as the video unfolds.

    I like the presentations of both men. Neither are climate-change deniers. Neither dispute that there are serious risks hydraulic fracking. Both men make compelling arguments.

    One of the most striking points that Engelder makes is that the debate was necessitated by the pending decision on fracking by the township of Starkey, NY. In other words, this is exactly the kind of public discourse that WON’T happen in Pennsylvania, where the state govt usurped the power of the townships to regulate their own acreage, and instead implemented a top-down regulatory regime designed from the ground up by the industry itself.

    He also makes the argument that while there will be risk and accidents in the extraction industry, these will diminish over time, noting how automobiles became safer over time. Knowing that history (and the critical role Ralph Nader and the environmental movement played in compelling the car industry to incorporate safety features and emission controls), this was an unexpected plug for independent review and aggressive regulation of the extraction industry.

    Ingraffea’s data on well leakage/failure can’t be ignored, lends credibility to the methane contamination claims made in “Gasland” and renders preposterous the frequent counter-claims heard that there’s never been drinking water contamination on the Marcellus.

    Well worth watching.

  9. Michele says:

    What a great debate! It’s nice to see two professionals go head to head on the subject.

    Tom – as for the woman who doesn’t like your reporting….all I can say is that this is an EID Blog. If she doesn’t like it, stop reading it!

  10. Helen A. L. says:

    I attended that debate, and a good new take-away point for me was Engelder’s repeated pointing-out the ‘Moral Ambiguity’ of the whole energy-sourcing issue, and that neither side has any claim to ‘Moral High-Ground’.

    Growing grapes and making wine as we do today takes LOTS of petroleum-fuel energy (and pesticides) to do the farming, processing, container-making, product-transport, and distribution, as does the rest of our society.

    Energy, applied wisely over time by the society of the day, has led to its advanced-state – we have more personal technical-capability (Computers, I-Phones; Gorilla Glass), mobility for work and recreation, and ways of living and health-care that yield longer, more-productive and healthier lives.

    Reasonable people understand that ‘moral-fairness and shared-responsibility’ means the ‘elite energy users’ should NOT impose inordinate risks and impact/inconvenience of energy-production on others. Yet, that is the VERY ARGUMENT of the anti-gas, anti-LPG, anti-fracking NIMBY forces.

    Supposedly Cornell is teaching students to have ‘world-citizen morality’ as a concern of theirs when they progress out. BUT, how can that be when an esteemed professor (Ingraffea) teaches them to ACTUALLY BE SELFISH, to just somehow ‘make the energy they might want to use…in SOMEONE ELSE’S BACK YARD, which is really what Ingraffea’s ‘no-fracking’ argument comes down to.

    I also saw Ingraffea give a presentation to a group in Interlaken trying to organize and ban fracking in the Town of Covert. He emphasized that this effort (and others like it apparently) was just his free-contribution to something he believed in, and that he was acting in the public’s interest for their ‘safely’ and did NOT receive pay from anyone to do this. But here at Dundee, in his biographical information, it comes out that he is “…president of Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, Inc.” (PSE).

    A little research helps me find that PSE is a “501c3 charitable organization”, which surprises me, as I do not perceive their goals as ‘charitable’ in nature, but rather ‘advocacy’. See their site at:http://www.psehealthyenergy.org/ . I also see that the well-known Park Foundation is a supporter, and presumably some chunk of the $3 million they have devoted to ‘excellence in journalism’ (e.g.: to condemn fracking) is going to the activists through this conduit. The Heinz Endowments is also a recognizable name (controlled by the wife of Senator John Kerry, I believe).

    Something tells me that he (or close family-members?) are well-rewarded with him in this presidential role, and that is how he gets away with claiming that ‘nobody pays him’ for his anti-fracking crusade! Or just given ‘expense money’ as support “to pay for expenses incurred in professional preparation efforts and other reasonable and necessary expenses”, which can cover a LOT of cost and activities a normal person would incur (e.g.: phone and internet services, recompense for time spent thinking, talking on phone with cohorts, email communications, and surfing the ‘net for research’ come to mind). But NEVER any pay for actual presentations!

    Has EID done research to put this puzzle together, much as you did to expose the Park Foundation’s tentacles?

    • Tom Shepstone says:

      This is a superb and insightful comment about how things really work. Thank you!

    • fred jones says:

      The NIMBY moniker gets applied so many times here on EID, but is that a fair definition? Until the gas industry can assure the majority of the public that HVHF is in fact safe and the controversy gives way to overwhelming acceptance on extraction of NG, one should not blame folks for not wanting HVHF in their back yards. EID likes to say the NIMBY population (as a whole) is reactionary. Or is the NIMBY crowd more cautionary, or maybe some of both? Yes……there are extremist views, but all are not without merit. If in fact there are accidents in NG extraction, and there most certainly is, as one can find many instances by looking up what NG companies were fined and for what, there must be real victims. How some victims are paraded out as opportunists might ring true in some cases, but to say all victims are opportunists, is reaching and only makes the opposition more resolved, more extremist and the general public sitting on the fence more skeptical and more confused on this subject. Odds in gambling are not that different in odds of real problems and real victims of the NG industry. NIMBY’s come in many forms and for many reasons, some based in facts, some based in emotion and yes, some based on hype.

      • Tom Shepstone says:

        We submit that the Park Foundation is purely NIMBY in nature – an elitist family trying to keep gas development out of the Finger Lakes region and one that views the ordinary citizens of upstate NY and their needs as just so much collateral damage (their term, not mine).

        • fred jones says:

          Tom, that is well known…where EID stands on the PF. Maybe they are……maybe their not. I used to cut their grass (the Parks) many moons ago when I was growing up……..Mrs. Park was a sweetheart of a woman, didn’t know Roy very well, never saw much of him. That’s about all I know about the Parks. If you guys say they are “purely NIMBY”, then in your assessment, they are, but I was referring to the ordinary Joe living in the boondocks, not the corporate fight between the NG industry and the their well funded foes. There is “collateral damage” on both sides of this issue, you know, the little guys.

          • Bill says:

            Well, Fred, I am one of those little guys, the collateral damage. I am neither gas company nor Park Foundation funded NIMBY. I’m a landowner, and a relatively small one at that. I will never strike it rich even if they sank a well on my property; I’d be such a small part of a drilling unit that my percentage of royalties will not even cover my current salary. The best I can hope for is to have enough to perhaps retire in the next year or so and still be able to pay my taxes without having to worry about exhausting my pension and 401(k). The economy here in the Southern Tier of New York is pitiful; IBM is virtually gone, Lockheed Martin has shrunk by 25%, and the best I could do is sell my house for what I paid for it 25 years ago. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last 5-6 years looking at this issue, going from fearful to supportive. I have visited a drilling rig, I have looked into the issues in Dimock, PA, Dish TX, and others. I’ve read the reports from the EPA and the Texas Department of Health. I have seen the research (PF funded) by Howarth and Ingraffia, and the subsequent rebuttals by studies out of MIT. I have even taken a stab at reading and understanding the SGEIS, the proposed regulation, and the provisions of the Environmental Conservation Law, particularly in light of the various bans, moratoriums, and lawsuits that are working their way through the courts. We’ve joined together with other landowners of all sizes to form a coalition to give ourselves a better chance at a fair deal and the best protections we can negotiate should drilling come to NY. I have done due diligence to the best of my ability, and I have become comfortable enough to believe that drilling can be done safely even though I know that no human endeavor can be 100% reliable. Comfortable enough to put my private well (which contains some natural gas, BTW, as did the previous one) where my mouth is, and support responsible drilling. Maybe I’m the exception, maybe not, but I do not like the idea of some unelected nanny entity trying to usurp my rights to make that choice.

          • fred jones says:

            Bill…….I believe that it is in fact your right to lease. However…….it’s not up to you or what you believe, as far as NG development goes…….it’s ultimately up to the NG companies as to whose property get a rig. Just because you signed a lease, does not guarantee anything other than that. All you might have is the signing bonus. It would be nice if all leases had a guarantee of royalties, but if there is not a good prospect of a substantial reserve of NG under your land, the companies are not going to spend millions of dollars on a wildcat venture. Your faith in the industry is commendable and I hope and pray you are correct in your assessment of HVHF. But like I said, that faith may never be tested.

  11. Bobby Brown says:

    Lets get the rigs in Ny and lets start drilling. These wanna be geologists are boring me to sleep at this point.

  12. Excellent narrative and article presentation.
    The subject matter is compelling and fundamental to a daily discussion on our future and our children’s childrens without the discussion being about us.
    We inherited the mess but we are the generation with the capacity to initiate and implement a sustainable change. We have the technology and the power to demand and provide respect for the environment without creating hardship to others. I agree with your moral judgement on the impact of development to the farmers. Greed certainly is not good but suffering and sacrifice cannot be inflicted upon others.


  1. […] Engelder and Ingraffea on Natural Gas, Nuclear and Renewables Energy in Depth – NMI This week we attended a debate between a supporter of natural gas, Terry Engelder, and well-known natural gas opponent, Tony Ingraffea, who seems to oppose natural gas full-time while on the Cornell faculty.  The debate was in Dundee, New York where the town is considering a moratorium on natural gas development. […]

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