Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 9:45 AM
PUBLIC EDUCATION INITIATIVES FOR NATURAL GAS DEVELOPMENT
Penn State’s Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research was formed to address the need for presenting science-based information to the wide array of stakeholders surrounding natural gas development. Some results of natural gas development are considered by many to be positive, such as wealth creation via lease and royalty payments, new job opportunities, and a cleaner source of domestic fuel, while other aspects of natural gas development can be negatively viewed due to potential environmental impacts such as deforestation or water resource degradation. Given this dichotomy of potential impacts, it is critical that all stakeholders be provided with science-based, factual information to allow educated opinions to be formed and therefore facilitate sound decision making. Many stakeholders such as landowners do not have scientific backgrounds yet need to make important decisions utilizing technical information on how they may be affected by natural gas development. In the case of natural gas development these decisions may include whether or not to lease land for drilling and therefore will require factoring in the relative advantages and disadvantages to reach that decision. Much of the information of interest related to natural gas development is directly tied to geology, including how much gas the reservoir contains, as well as the risks for adverse environmental impacts such as methane migration into groundwater. Finding reliable sources of non-biased, factual information on controversial topics such as natural gas production can be challenging, therefore public education is critical to ensure that sound decisions can be made based on the best available factual information.