This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.
Published: Nov. 29, 2012

UB should continue study of shale gas resources

An open letter to President Tripathi and Provost Zukoski

Dear President Tripathi and Provost Zukoski:

We, former officers and board members of the Shale Resources and Society Institute (SRSI), write this letter to express our wish that you guide the UB community forward on the study of shale gas resources in New York. This is a statewide issue with important global ramifications that will not go away just because SRSI is now defunct.

Please make good on your implicit promise of your letter of Nov. 19, 2012, and carefully plan out a broadly based energy and environment institute that will further the work attempted by SRSI into the future for the benefit of all New Yorkers, all Americans and our global family.

We request specifically that you consider the following:

  • The structure and personnel of any new entity need to be carefully planned. Potential faculty, administration, community and industry participants need to be identified and made aware up front of UB’s intentions. For all groups, explicit, public interest in participation is crucial to success.
  • The issue is broader than stated in your letter. Specifically, it involves not only energy and environment, but also society, perceptions and psychology. Certainly, any new effort also will fail if these aspects are not addressed.
  • Funding levels for any new effort need to be commensurate with the importance and complexity of the issue. We will continue to use large amounts of energy as a society; this energy demand will be met. Will that take place in a vacuum of information on the interactions among energy resources, society and the environment, or are we willing to provide an adequate intellectual home where these difficult issues can be wrestled with together?
  • As the issue is so broadly based and funding will be needed from numerous sources, the university must decide and articulate early on how it will address potential conflicts of interest. We certainly can make no useful progress without the cooperation and, indeed, help of the energy industry. How can it be brought into the equation in a positive way, while also safeguarding academic freedom?

Yours sincerely,

Marcus Bursik, Professor of Geology
Bruce Appelbaum, B.S. ’69, Geology
James Ellis, M.A. ’78 & Ph.D. ‘82, Geology