Forum: "Energy and Science Policy in Practice: Working on Local Solutions to Global Problems"


Location: 214 DeBartolo Hall (View on map )

Adam Briggle and Anthony Ingraffea

Co-sponsors: ND Energy – Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame & Environmental Change Initiative 

When we use the term ‘science policy’ we all too often mean it as shorthand for national processes of allocating resources, enacting legislation, and crafting rules and regulations. By the time an issue attracts national attention, however, it already has a long history of local conficts, defined stakeholders and articulated positions. 

This forum looks at the complexity of science and energy policy at the local level, focusing on responses to fracking in Texas and New York. The event features first-hand accounts by scholars who made a conscious decision to apply their expertise in the contentious arena of fracking policy and regulation.

Adam Briggle, “The Birth and Death of a Texas Fracking Ban: An Insider’s Account”

In 2011, I was asked by a Denton City Councilor to form an advisory committee to help them rewrite local regulations for gas well drilling and production. By 2014, this committee had morphed into a PAC calling for a ban on hydraulic fracturing within Denton city limits. The citizens of Denton voted for the ban, but it was soon overturned by the Texas legislature. By 2015, I was arrested with some of my friends at a fracking site in Denton as we protested the injustice of the new state law. In this talk, I’ll tell the story of my efforts as a field philosopher to help the city of Denton think about fracking and justice. I’ll focus on questions about the appropriate role of intellectuals in public controversies about science and technology.

Briggle is associate professor and the director of graduate studies in the philosophy & religion department at UNT. He holds a PhD in Environmental Studies from the University of Colorado and served for three years as a postdoctoral fellow working on the philosophy of technology at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. His research and teaching interests focus on the intersections of ethics and policy with science and technology.  He is also the author of A Field Philosopher’s Guide to Fracking (2015, Liveright Press) and was instrumental in passing a fracking ban in the city of Denton.

Anthony Ingraffea, “Science and Advocacy: One Professor’s Journey to Enlightenment” 
It started as a simple request to tell a fishing club what “fracking” is. Then, an 8-year blur: TIME Magazine, The New York Times, Gasland II, and over 170 presentations worldwide trying to explain the problem, and that fracking is not it. Along the way, I was pilloried by a Nobel-Prize-winning Secretary of Energy, the American Petroleum Institute, its PR hacks, and some of my academic colleagues. But we stopped shale gas in New York, and many other places around the world, and we sensitized the world to the crucial importance of methane emissions, and I have helped individual families get justice for suffered harms from shale gas. So, I am in a “good place” now, and I will tell you why.

Ingraffea is the Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering (Emeritus), Weiss Presidential Teaching Fellow at Cornell University and president of Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, Inc. Ingraffea has an extremely rich biography. In the context of fracking, he is perhaps best-known for his co-authorship of a Cornell University 2011 study that established the greenhouse gas footprint of fracking as being greater than that of any other fossil fuel including coal. Ingraffea has been a principal investigator on research and development projects ranging from the National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) through Schlumberger, Gas Research Institute, Sandia National Laboratories, Association of Iron and Steel Engineers, General Dynamics, Boeing and Northrop Grumman Aerospace.

Originally published at