Why Now?

In just a few years, the emergence of shale resources has altered the energy conversation nationally and globally. Shale gas, condensate, and oil resources are now being developed on six of seven continents, and worldwide natural gas prices have significantly declined. More affordable natural gas creates an enormous opportunity for meeting future energy needs and benefiting national security. However, it also presents questions. Unfortunately, many articles and reports demonstrate a lack of understanding about the scientific, regulatory, environmental, and economic facts surrounding shale gas development.Moreover, issues are changing rapidly. We urgently need to take stock of the real state of knowledge on shale gas and oil drilling and extraction, and to separate legitimate from poor research.  For example, there is a lack of thoroughly compiled, comprehensive baseline information on hydraulic fracture stimulation. We must also communicate accurate knowledge and provide objective, scientifically-based information to all stakeholders in the unconventional resources conversation. Finally, communication systems are evolving and accelerating, and require new, innovative delivery approaches.   

New York State is home to a potential world-class resource, but action is urgently needed if the economic promise for the state and country is to be safely realized.  The conversation on potential development has become highly polarized, due to a combination of disinformation and mistrust.  Thus, unbiased, scientifically-based information must be acquired and effectively communicated.  

The Shale Resources and Society Institute will help meet this need, by filling a critical void for compiling and disseminating accurate, impartial knowledge. While the Institute’s initial area of focus is New York State, its activities can have a much broader impact, particularly since New York State has emerged as a global trendsetter in its response to issues surrounding shale gas and oil development. Although the Institute’s current focus is on unconventional fossil fuel resources (because of the dominating position of shale gas over the next few decades), this initial emphasis will lay the groundwork for broader activities in integrated energy research, including the role of renewables in the energy economy, energy storage and distribution, and environmental management.