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Two prominent scientists to debate hydrofracking

SUNY Cortland will be the venue for a much anticipated event - a debate between two prominent scientists on the pros and cons of gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale. The speakers will be Donald Siegel, Professor of Earth Science at Syracuse University and Anthony Ingraffea, Professor of Engineering at Cornell University. The debate will be moderated by SUNY Cortland Assistant Professor of Political Science Christopher Latimer. Numerous organizations will be co-sponsoring the event as well as the SUNY Office of the President, Philosophy Department, and other SUNY groups.

"Gas drilling is arguably the most important environmental issue facing New York State today. Regardless of one's view on this very controversial topic, a knowledge of the facts is essential for informed decision making. This debate will help achieve that goal," said Sheila Cohen, SUNY Cortland faculty emerita and GDACC member.

Siegel is a proponent of shale gas extraction and has appeared in many industry television ads stating his support of this technology. He categorizes the views of gas drilling opponents as "irrational fears."

Ingraffea opposes the large scale industrialization required for shale gas extraction. He has given many presentations around the region explaining the harmful impacts the proposed hydraulic fracturing technology will have.

New York has imposed a freeze on shale gas extraction while environmental policies are being formulated. Supporters of gas drilling claim the process is safe and adequately regulated, and that New York State's economy would benefit from developing this industry.

Opponents point to the numerous incidents of water contamination and other harmful impacts occurring in Pennsylvania and other states, and argue that gas drilling would actually be detrimental to the Finger Lakes economy which relies primarily on farming, outdoor recreation, and tourism.

Citizens groups, both in favor of and opposed to shale gas extraction, have been invited to distribute informational literature. Tabling will begin at 1 PM and also continue after the debate is concluded. Audience members will also be able to submit questions for Dr. Ingraffea and Dr. Siegel to address.

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