Critical Discussion Series continues Thursday on fracking

JAMESTOWN Prendergast Library has finalized plans for its fourth program in the Critical Discussion Series to be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday in the Fireplace Room at the library on “Fracking Impacts on Environment, Health and Society.”

Moderator Becky Nystrom, Jamestown Community College Professor of Biology, will join panelists Sarah Buckley, Robert M. Ciesielski, David Kowalski, and Rita Yelda.

Buckley will discuss fracking basics from wellpad to pipeline; Ciesielski, leasing and legal issues such as considerations if signing, compulsory integration, landowner rights, flipping, and impacts on mortgages and insurance; Kowalski, environmental and health issues including an analysis of industry positions vs. other studies and evidence; and Ms. Yelda, fracking developments in New York during the last four years.

Nystrom serves as Coordinator of Jamestown Community College’s Environmental Science program and Coordinator of geology and biology on the Jamestown campus. She serves on JCC’s sustainability committee and is actively involved in the Tree Campus USA program, greenhouse gas inventory, and climate action planning. She also serves as faculty sponsor for many environmental science and sustainability-related student internships. She previously chaired both the sustainability task force and the health services and safety committee, and is past president and current membership chairperson of the JCC Faculty Association.

Buckley is a registered nurse living in Wales. Two years ago she co-founded Protecting Our Water Rights, a grassroots group predominantly from southern Erie County that works to raise awareness about and protect communities from the adverse effects of the hydrofracking process.

A graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, Ciesielski is an attorney with offices in Cheektowaga. He has served in a volunteer capacity as former Chair of the Sierra Club, Niagara Group, which includes seven Western New York counties, and currently serves as Energy Committee Chair of the New York State Atlantic Chapter Sierra Club. Besides leasing and legal issues, he will also discuss the numerous benefits and job opportunities of renewable energy development in New York State.

Kowalski holds a Ph.D. and worked for 35 years as a laboratory head at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute directing DNA research funded by the National Institutes of Health. He was also a professor in Roswell’s Graduate Division of the University at Buffalo. Kowalski is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of UB CLEAR, the Coalition for Leading Ethically in Academic Research. In retirement, he became interested in how various energy sources affect our environment and health. He has delivered educational talks on shale gas extraction by high volume hydrofracking at colleges and communities.

An organizer from Buffalo, Yelda in 2010 founded WNY Drilling Defense, a grassroots group whose mission includes education, action, and advocating for legislation in opposition to fracking. One of the group’s most noted accomplishments is the passage of the first municipal ban on fracking in New York State, which set a precedent for more than 100 other municipalities who have since followed suit. Yelda currently works as an organizer for Food & Water Watch, a consumer advocacy organization that works for sustainable agriculture, safe food, and clean water.

The program is free and open to the public. The library is located at 509 Cherry St., Jamestown. For information, call 484-7135, Ext. 225.