Clarion University to Host Public Forum on Impact of Marcellus Shale

CLARION – Clarion University will host “A Public Forum on The Environmental Impact of Marcellus Shale Drilling and Fracking” from 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 28 in Marwick Boyd Auditorium. The program is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences and the Society of Collegiate Journalists.

The forum will inform the university and local community about the issues associated with hydraulic drilling. It will consist of presentations by panelists, followed by a question-and-answer session with questions from the moderator and the audience. Joe Sestak, former U.S. Representative and 2010 senatorial candidate, will serve as the moderator for the evening. The event will be simulcast on WCUC-FM and WCUB-TV.

“We seek to make the forum as informative and fact-based as possible. There are many pros and cons to this drilling,” said Joyce Overly, event organizer and professor of chemistry and biochemistry. “As a scientist, even I have a difficult time determining what’s true and what’s not. We decided to bring in experts to help inform people about the truth and to talk about the facts rather than the hyperbole.”

Hydraulic fracturing involves injecting over a million gallons of sand, water and chemicals at a high pressure down and across into horizontally-drilled wells as far as 10,000 feet below the surface. The pressurized mixture causes the Marcellus shale to crack. The sand helps keep the fissures open so the natural gas can flow up from the well.

Confirmed panelists include: Conrad Volz, professor of occupational and environmental health in the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh; Shireen Parsons, Pennsylvania Community Organizer for the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund; and Bill Belitskus, board president, Allegheny Defense Project.

Volz has more than 30 years’ experience in occupational-environmental health. His research interests are primarily focused on how industrial and municipal toxins and carcinogens move through the air, water, soil and groundwater to reach people and how to block this movement. Parsons conducts community organizing throughout Pennsylvania and Virginia. Belitskus works to preserve and protect the Allegheny National Forest.

Members of the organizing committee include Thomas Rourke, chair of the political science and philosophy department, and Denice Grubb, owner of The Accidental Artist Boutique.

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