PRI Approach to Marcellus Shale Outreach

Paleontological Research Institution Educational outreach on energy and environment with respect to Marcellus Shale drilling


The Paleontological Research Institution (PRI) makes the history of the Earth and its life -- and the science by which we understand it -- accessible to audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

As part of this educational mission, PRI provides science outreach on topics of societal concern, such as energy resources, climate and environment, and biodiversity. The goal of this outreach is to improve awareness and understanding of Earth systems and foster sustainable stewardship of Earth and its life.

New-Electricity-map

Electric power industry net generation by state within the Marcellus region.

Within this context, PRI provides educational outreach on topics related to drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale. The goal of these outreach efforts is to help provide evidence-based information on the origin of natural resources, their distribution, their exploration and removal, and the environmental impacts of this activity over time and geographic scales, both small and large. A component of this outreach is contrasting local and global costs and benefits of shale gas drilling with other sources of energy imported to or developed in the region. PRI recognizes that drilling in New York State may begin soon, necessitating more and better scientific information about natural gas drilling for citizens and municipal officials.

More generally, PRI outreach is intended to improve science literacy, especially about the Earth. Creating a sustainable planet involves making complex choices among energy options and environmental protection. All energy resources have impacts that are both local and global, both short-term and long-term. PRI outreach seeks to improve public understanding of these contrasts, because such understanding is necessary for making effective decisions now and in the future.

PRI does take public positions relating to the use and teaching of good science. In contrast, PRI does not take public positions for or against specific policies that relate to the environment, land use, the economy, or natural resources. This does not mean that PRI is agnostic about these topics, but that our role is to present the best science information possible in order to help citizens and policy makers make well informed decisions.

PRI staff currently work in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) as part of the CCE Marcellus Shale Team. The PRI position on gas drilling is consistent with that of CCE, which also does not advocate for or against specific policies or actions with respect to gas drilling. CCE supports grass roots groups coming together to become better educated on complex issues, such as gas development in the Marcellus Shale. PRI works with CCE to provide targeted education and training to a variety of stakeholders who seek better scientific, economic, and environmental understanding of the issues associated with Marcellus Shale natural gas exploration and drilling. Further information about the CCE Marcellus Team can be found at http://naturalgas.cce.cornell.edu.