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Hydraulic Fracturing Forum Expands Knowledge, Opens Doors to New Research


September 30, 2011 — For many who attended "Hydraulic Fracturing: A Wyoming Energy Forum" at the UW Conference Center at the Hilton Garden Inn this week, the work is just beginning.

The forum, sponsored by the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources and Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources, presented a broad range of information to more than 400 attendees, including industry experts, researchers, academics, attorneys, regulators, reporters and students.

Hydraulic fracturing has been in use for decades to develop sources of natural gas and oil, but its expanded use in recent years to help meet growing demand in the United States for domestic energy has drawn public concern.  There is a growing desire for information on how hydraulic fracturing works and the impact of its use.

"Our hope was that people would come with open minds to this forum to address a complicated topic, and, by and large, that happened," says Mark Northam, director of the UW School of Energy Resources. "We knew when we started this would be a controversial issue. We hoped the forum would be balanced and factual."

Northam adds that while everyone heard something to disagree with, there was broad consensus that Wyoming residents are concerned with air and water quality, quality of land use and quality of health.

"We've been presented many questions for future research on potential water, air and land impacts," says Indy Burke, director of the Haub School and Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources. "Our goal was to get and learn information together and fill research gaps. We have a better understanding now of what those are. We've identified uncertainties and risks to the environment. We've forged relationships and we look forward to building on them."

Developed at the direction of the UW Energy Resources Council, the forum is among UW's energy outreach efforts. 

Information about the conference, including speaker presentations, can be found at www.uwyo.edu/SER/conferences/hydraulic-fracturing/index.html.

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