Empire Energy Forum and the Women of the Marcellus
The Empire Energy Forum traveled to Syracuse, N.Y., last week to educate the public about natural gas development and what it would mean for New York State if the five year (and counting) moratorium was lifted. The forum featured three female speakers discussing their roles and experiences in the energy field.
Karen Moreau of the American Petroleum Institute hosted the forum, and she introduced the Women and Energy program they have launched across the state. She hopes the program will help clarify what natural gas would do to small towns across New York.
Rayola Dougher, a senior economist for API, presented first. She had amazing numbers and statistics to share with the crowd, including figures showing the natural gas industry as having the most growth in employment throughout the recession. Dougher also encouraged the audience by mentioning the United States, according to the International Energy Agency, will be the number one oil producer in the world by the end of this decade. Watch her entire presentation in the following video.
Nancy Schmidtt, the next speaker, has a background in petroleum engineering and graduated from Harvard Business School. Schmidtt has experience working with the oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska, along with several other states. She asked the audience what country has produced the most cumulative petroleum — and surprising to some, the United States was the correct answer. The United States has been the leader in developing the resources, the laws, and the regulations, she added.
Schmidtt also discussed everything you need to know about hydrocarbons and the United States economy. Watch her whole presentation below.
Mindy Coates owns the Victorian Charm Inn Bed and Breakfast in Towanda, Pennsylvania. She discussed her journey in purchasing a bed and breakfast and making it successful. She also discussed the impact her business alone has made on her community from things like buying paint and wallpaper to revamp their beautiful building.
Coates and her husband had to move out of Pennsylvania before the natural gas industry came to town due to lack of employment. Once the natural gas industry came to the area, however, they saw an opportunity they couldn’t pass up, and buying the bed and breakfast gave them the opportunity to move home closer to their families.
They say about 85 percent of their business is from the natural gas industry. Coates said many came as strangers and left as family once their jobs were completed. She is pleased to say she supports the natural gas industry and the benefits she has seen firsthand from it.
After the presenters finished the floor was open to questions and answers. A few people came in with prewritten cards, which were often curt and littered with fear from misinformation. Greg Sovas fielded questions, offering scientific and factual answers based on his experience working as head of the oil and gas division in the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.
The first prewritten question asked was about Dimock, Pa., and mentioned water, flaring, and truck traffic among other things. The questioner asked how those people are supposed to go back to their homes with, according to her, poor water. Sovas told her the Environmental Protection Agency has tested the water in Dimock and they have said it is safe to drink.
She then mentioned the people she has met with have brown drinking water (if she is referring to the Sautners’ water she should watch FrackNation and see the truth about natural gas development there). In any event, Sovas told the lady about the protections New York State takes to protect groundwater.
The questions stayed along these lines because the few women who asked the questions came together and dominated the session. Watch the whole question and answer session, including Sovas’s answers, below.
When the Empire Energy Forum wrapped up we offered more information to the women with questions, and we hope they were able to take something away with them as they left. The forum went very well and the information presented was up to date and extremely interesting.