The development of natural gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale could have far-reaching impacts on the area's economy, community and environment.
The Penn State Cooperative Extension is holding two workshops to discuss those impacts and what local citizens, governments and organizations can do to deal with them.
The first workshop will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Benton High School auditorium, 400 Park St., Benton; the second from 7 to 9 p.m. Feb. 26 at the Clinton County Resource and Education Center, 47 Cooperation Lane, Mill Hall.
Both programs are designed to shed light on the short-term and long-term effects of natural gas exploration, based on research and experience in regions of the country with similar histories of gas development.
Topics will include background and basic concepts related to the gas drilling industry, potential community and economic impacts such as job and business opportunities, community growth and change, demands on services and infrastructure, potential environmental impacts, such as water quality and quantity, land use change and habitat and wildlife change.
According to Neal Fogle, economic and community development educator at the Lycoming County extension office, anyone may attend the workshops and learn something from them.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Two workshops on effects
of gas drilling
WHEN: 7 to 9 p.m. Feb. 24 and Feb. 26
WHERE: Feb. 24 at Benton High School auditorium, 400 Park St., Benton
Feb. 26 at Clinton County Resource and Education Center, 47 Cooperation Lane, Mill Hall
COST: $10 per person
TO REGISTER: Call 784-6660 for Benton workshop; 726-0022 for Mill Hall workshop.
"We are focusing on multiple audiences. Citizens will get a good idea of the bigger picture on natural gas development, and economic development people, government officials and other organizations will learn about varied aspects of it," Fogle said.
Natural gas development can have a positive impact on the region, but it also can strain local services.
For example, the gas industry may create revenue and jobs but also may attract industry workers and their families, which could increase enrollment in local school districts, Fogle said.
"People need to be aware and well prepared for (the effects of gas exploration) to maximize the positive impacts," he said.
The cost of the workshop is $10 per person. To register for the Benton workshop, contact the Columbia County extension office at 784-6660, or online at ColumbiaExt@psu.edu.
To register for the Clinton County event, contact the Clinton County extension office at 726-0022, or online at ClintonExt@psu.edu.