Wilkes University


“Frack It Or Leave It” Is The Focus of April 14 Panel Discussion at Wilkes University

Wilkes University will present “Frack It Or Leave It,” a panel discussion of Pennsylvania’s energy and environmental policies since the development of the Marcellus Shale gas deposit. The discussion will be held on April 14 at 4 p.m. in the Henry Student Center Ballroom. The event is free and open to the public.

Wilkes University political science professor Thomas Baldino will moderate the discussion. Guest panelists will include attorney Michael Helbing from PennFuture, journalist Andrew Maykuth from the Philadelphia Inquirer, attorney Lee S. Piatt from Rosenn Jenkins and Greenwald and associate professor of political science Sarah Pralle from Syracuse University.

The technology to extract natural gas deposits located in the geological formation known as the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania was not developed until the 1970s. It was not until 2009 that the process became cost efficient using hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” Fracking raised questions of environmental degradation even as natural gas from the deposit flooded the energy market, lowering natural gas prices across the state.

Three governors -- Democrats Ed Rendell and Tom Wolf and Republican Tom Corbett --  led administrations that responded to the promise and challenge of the Marcellus Shale play by issuing executive orders and signing legislation that appear to have satisfied no one. Controversy continues to surround the issue, and attempts to educate the public are often labeled as biased. Panelists will offer suggestions on how those policies may be improved to advance both the public’s desire for a clean environment and plentiful energy.

Helbing is a staff attorney for PennFuture, whose practice focuses on public lands, water resources, and the environmental effects of the development of Pennsylvania’s natural gas resources. In 2015, he was appointed to Gov. Wolf’s Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force, where he served on the Environmental Protection Work Group.

Maykuth is a Philadelphia Inquirer business news writer who has covered energy since 2009, documenting the shale-gas revolution from its early days. In more than three decades with the Inquirer, he has covered national and foreign assignments including Latin America and Afghanistan, and was a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. 

Piatt, a partner in the business and finance department of Rosenn Jenkins and Greenwald, is an advisory board member of both the King’s College Family Business Forum and the Wilkes University Family Business Alliance, and served as funding co-chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s shale energy law committee. He is a frequent lecturer on various business law topics, including the impact of shale energy on business and legal practice.

Syracuse University’s Pralle is an associate professor in the department of political science and a senior researcher at the Campbell Public Affairs Institute at the Maxwell School. She is author of Branching Out, Digging In: Environmental Advocacy and Agenda Setting as well as several articles on environmental politics and policy.