Webinar to cover study of agricultural production and shale gas development

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — How extensive shale gas development has affected agricultural communities will be the subject of a web-based seminar presented by Penn State Extension at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15.

The hourlong webinar will feature Gretchen Sneegas, a doctoral degree student with the University of Georgia's Department of Geography. She has studied the effects of hydraulic fracturing on rural communities, using agriculture as a way to understand how farmers view and make decisions about gas drilling and its impacts on their crops and land. She compares gas development in Pennsylvania to New York.

Oil and gas development have been occurring in Pennsylvania and New York since the 1800s, but horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies brought that development to contrasting perspectives in the 21st century, she explains. While New York has banned hydraulic fracturing, Pennsylvania has allowed this technology, leading to more than 11,500 unconventional wells drilled since 2000.

"In the webinar, we'll look at how this development has affected rural communities where most of this drilling has occurred," Sneegas said. "With New York and Pennsylvania regulating shale gas development very differently, the study compares the two states to understand the relationship between agriculture, regulation and shale gas development via hydraulic fracturing in the Twin Tiers Region of New York and Pennsylvania."

The perceptions of shale gas development among farmers and extension professionals will be explored during the presentation, as well as how the New York state ban on fracking impacts farmers' viewpoints.

"I'll highlight some of the variables that influence farmers' viewpoints on shale gas development, and I'll provide some potential applications of the results from the study to build consensus in the future," Sneegas said.

The webinar, "Agricultural Production and Shale Gas Development," is part of Penn State Extension's Shale Gas Education monthly webinar series. The last webinar in 2018 — "Unconventional Oil and Gas Bringing Trusted Science to Decision-Making" — will be held on Dec. 13 and presented by Donna Vorhees, director of the Energy Research Program for Health Effects Institute.

The webinar is free, but registration is necessary. To register, visit the Penn State Extension Natural Gas Events webpage at More information is available by contacting Carol Loveland at 570-320-4429 or at

Previous webinars, publications and information also are available on the Penn State Extension natural-gas website, covering a variety of topics such as liquid natural gas; seismic testing; methane emissions; water use and quality; Marcellus and Utica basins; natural gas reserves; gas-leasing considerations for landowners; legal issues surrounding gas development; and the impact of Marcellus gas development on forestland.

Last Updated November 01, 2018