The co-director of the University at Buffalo’s now-shuttered Shale Resources and Society Institute has been tapped by the state to help study the seismic impacts of hydrofracking and shale-gas drilling.
Robert Jacobi, a consultant for Pittsburgh-based natural gas company EQT Corporation who previously worked for Norse Energy, was contracted by the DEC to provide seismic analysis to the agency’s yet-to-be-finalized Supplemental Generic Environment Impact Statement, a lengthy environmental review that includes permitting guidelines for large-scale fracking and drilling.
The contract was first reported by Bloomberg News.
Perhaps aware of the backlash that with hiring a consultant with ties to the gas industry, a DEC spokeswoman went to lengths to highlight the diversity of Jacobi’s resume, sending a list of several of his research papers when a reporter inquired about the agency’s selection.
“Dr. Jacobi has a vast range of experience that make his expertise useful in the SGEIS’s consideration of seismic activity, including consulting work for the Concerned Citizens of Cautaraugus County in western NYS, the Coalition on West Valley Nuclear Waste and EQT as well as performed research pursuant to grants issued by federal agencies, including the Department of Defense and National Science Foundation (NSF),” spokeswoman Emily DeSantis said in an email.
Jacobi was the co-director of UB’s Shale Resources and Society Institute until it was closed by the university last year under heavy pressure from environmental and good-government groups as well as the SUNY Board of Trustees. The institute released one report—a look at violations committed by gas drillers in Pennsylvania that was heavily criticized for the author’s ties to the gas industry.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports the DEC also has hired Gene Florentino, a geologist with Buffalo-based Ecology & Environment, to help with the seismic analysis, as well.
Ecology & Environment was contracted by the DEC in 2011 to provide analysis of the economic impact of allowing fracking in New York. But in December 2011, DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens said he would ask the consulting group to take a harder look at the potential costs to local governments, such as a potential strain on police, emergency services and hospitals.
When asked several times over the past 10 days whether the consultant ever did take up that extra analysis, the DEC ignored the inquiries.
Here’s some of Jacobi’s research related to seismicity, provided by DeSantis:
Jacobi, R.D., 2002. Basement Faults and Seismicity in the Appalachian Basin of New York State.
Tectonophysics, V., 353, p. 75-113.
Jacobi, R., 2010. Marcellus and Utica in the Field: Looking at Faults, Fractures and Folds That
Affect the Sedimentary Units of the Northern Appalachian Basin. AAPG Webinar, June, 2010.
Jacobi, R., 2011. Faults in the Appalachian Basin of New York State and Their Significance.
Hudson-Mohawk Professional Geologists= Association Newsletter, November, 2011.
Jacobi, R.D., 2008. Faulting and Fracture Heterogeneity in Black Shales of the Appalachian Basin
of New York State. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, V. 40.
Jacobi, R.D., Cruz, C., Leaver, A., and Fisher, J., 2011. Seismic Signatures of Faults in the
Appalachian Basin of NYS, and the Effect of These Faults on Devonian Black Shales: An Update.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90131.
Jacobi, R., and Fountain, J., 2002. Demonstration of an Exploration Technique Integrating High-
Resolution Hyperspectral Remote Sensing Data, Soil Gas Surveys, and Fracture Intensification
Domains for the Determination of Subsurface Structure In New York State., Final Report NYSERDA
Project # 4713.
Jacobi, R.D., Smith, G., and Fisher, J.L., 2011. Post-Depositional Fault Effects in Black Shales of
the Appalachian Basin of New York State: Fracture/Fault Heterogeneity and Thermal Maturity.
Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, V. 43.