Merry Christmas America! Terry Engelder’s Shale Story!

cost of renewables - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW


Terry Engelder is one of the godfathers of the shale revolution, the guy who first realized its enormous potential. He tells his story in a “TED” talk from 2013.

The story of the Marcellus Shale and the revolution it produced is the stuff of legend. The man there at the beginning is a Geology Professor from Penn State University (my own alma mater). He just retired, technically speaking, but he’s still active and having a lot of fun digging into new aspects of shale production. It is, though, an appropriate time to look back a bit to put things into perspective as to just how significant the whole thing was and remains. A talk Terry Engelder gave in 2013—a TED talk—provides a just such a look back  and offers fascinating insights into the revolution.

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design and is the work of a non-profit group “devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less).” TED talks have been going on since 1984 and, today, universities often involved in the program, encouraging some of the best among their educators and researchers to engage the public through them. Terry Engelder, Professor of Geology at Penn State was encouraged to give such a TED talk in 2013. His entire talk is but a little over 12 minutes in length and capsulizes what the Marcellus Shale revolution is all about:

Terry Engelder talks, in this video, about his realization, during research, that Christmas was coming to America in the form of potential economic development from shale. He tells how he went to Gary Lash, a colleague from another university to confirm his startling calculations. He addresses the contributions of fracking to reducing the CO2 emissions, the fact those emissions matter far more than methane and various other aspects of the fracking debate, noting fracking has been a huge environmental opportunity realized without government regulation.

He even mentions Dimock and how that one word and the misuse of another—”toxic”—affected the debate:

Never mind the fact that neither the US Environmental Protection Agency nor the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection found one shred of evidence that fracking was somehow or another contaminating groundwater with fracking fluids. Now, it is true that there are large water management issues. It’s true there are air quality issues. And, it’s true that there are a lot of other very important questions that need to be answered about fracking. However, the term “toxic” has become one of the most used, overused, terms in the fracking debate; so overused that Pennsylvania author Seamus McGraw claims that the two most toxic chemicals in the fracking debate … are adrenaline and testosterone.

He’s absolutely correct, of course. Still, to me, the best part of Terry Engelder’s TED talk is how the Marcellus Shale revolution came to be. It’s a little Christmas in July for me as he conveys the excitement he felt a decade ago when sudden realizing Christmas was coming to America both economically and environmentally. Watch the whole thing!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

10 thoughts on “Merry Christmas America! Terry Engelder’s Shale Story!

  1. Who’s “Shamus”?

    Oops I forgot; you never got your fracing dollars and therefore couldn’t afford to hire a transcriber that knows how to spell even the significant names in the field.


    Well it’s celebrate the big NYC blackout from 40 years ago newscycle time. I seem to remember an interesting article in Harper’s msgzine that mentions this blackout on the storm king issue. Storm King was a pumped storage plant that the environmental movement in NY stopped.

    The article in Harper’s is extraordinary. The reporter who wrote it looked at news coverage, editorials and more over tie and interesting enough just like with the fracking issue those who were opposed eventually became to be seen as experts. Also there were yacht ins. In the present this is like kaytativists protesting pipelines and of course the present day activists got their inspiration from the past.

  3. Remember those days in the life of projects? Imagine just a snapshot of the antifracking pipeline resistance movement , which many reporters refuse to call by name or out, in the news today in some way.

    Oh here is mark ruffalo and Fisher stevejs ranting about a number of things. Sure they don’t make sense but do the people who publish the daily news notice this? Probably not.

  4. I met Terry Engelder at some debate he was in a few years ago, and he told me that some of the key discoveries were perfectly exposed at Watkins Glen in the way the layers of rock there had cracked, right at the bottom of the 414 hill to Corning They had put colored chalk on the rock faces, and it exposed the way it had cracked. When Engelder explained the science behind what he found, it became the basis of fracking technology. I had noticed those rocks had new colored chalk a couple of times, and it turns out that came from some kind of geologist field trips he led.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *