The Marcellus Shale Documentary Project

August 1st, 2013
A gas-drilling rig in Hopewell Township area; photo by Scott Goldsmith on June 21, 2010

A gas-drilling rig in Hopewell Township area; photo by Scott Goldsmith on June 21, 2010

The Marcellus Shale Documentary Project, a Center for Photography at Woodstock (CPW) exhibition, is in its final weeks (June 29 to August 18, 2013). The show is curated by Laura Domencic, director of the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. This photographic survey, compiled over ten months beginning in late 2011, features the works of six world-class photographers: Noah Addis, Nina Berman, Brian Cohen, Scott Goldsmith, Lynn Johnson and Martha Rial. They took the responsibility of documenting the lives of Pennsylvanians affected by natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale region.

The show debuted at the Pittsburgh Center of the Arts in Oct. 2012 and seeks to draw on the power of photography to inform and move public opinion on the issue of hydraulic fracturing—or “fracking” as it is more commonly known. It follows a photographic tradition, established in 1935, when the U.S. government initiated the Farm Security Administration, which sent a group of photographers to document the conditions of those affected by the Great Depression. Just as the resulting photographs humanized the tragic stories of loss and deprivation in the mid-twentieth century, enabling the nation to become unified in its understanding of the era it was experiencing, the photographers featured here help visualize one of the most contentious issues of our time—our struggle between our need for energy and our stewardship of the natural environment.

There is an online archive.  CPW is located at 59 Tinker Street in Woodstock, NY and the galleries are free and open to the public, Wednesday through Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m. For directions or further information call 845-679-9957 or email

New York Crossroads Rally

June 13th, 2013
New York Crossroads Poster

New York Crossroads Poster

On June 17 New Yorkers Against Fracking, a grassroots energy organization, is organizing a rally in Albany, NY, “calling on Governor Cuomo to reject fracking and lead  the nation in constructing a renewable energy economy here and now in New York.” Fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, is a controversial gas extraction method that allows drillers to reach pockets of natural gas thousands of feet below the earth’s surface. In addition, the method uses millions of gallons of water mixed with hazardous chemicals that are injected into the wells to facilitate the retrieval of the gas. During the course of the process pockets of methane are freed and migrate to well openings or people’s basements and explode. Other problems include spills of the chemicals and contamination of work areas, which in turn leaches into wells and waterways. Many of these issues are well documented in such books as Tom Wilber’s Under the Surface: Fracking, Fortunes, and the Fate of the Marcellus Shale, and Seamus McGraw’s The End of Country.

According to the US Energy Information Administration,  New York State consumed four times as much energy as it produced in 2010. In the near term, fracking would appear to hold out the promise of overcoming this shortfall. However, global warming with its attendant storms has changed from a passing to a pressing concern. Even fracking proponents pitch natural gas as a “bridge” to a world someday powered by renewables. The premise of the rally in Albany is to encourage Cuomo to embrace a recent policy plan, “Examining the Feasibility of Converting New York State’s All-Purpose Energy Infrastructure to One Using Wind, Water and Sunlight,” that lays out how New York can become solely reliant on renewables by 2050. Highlights of the report may be found here.