Hydraulic Fracking: Economic Boon or Natural Disaster?

7 p.m. Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ostrove Auditorium

iStock_000023298502XXLarge (1) Fracking, an unconventional method of extracting oil and gas has generated immense controversy in recent years. Proponents see it as an economic boon that will generate jobs and improve energy security. Yet detractors are quick to point out the environmental risks posed by fracking. The 2014 William R. and Linda K. Cotter Debate, Hydraulic Fracking: Economic Boon or Natural Disaster?, will feature a panel discussion with three experts and present a broad perspective on fracking and the extraction of unconventional oil and gas. The panelists will discuss the geological background and engineering advancements that have made fracking possible; the economic impacts from unconventional oil and gas; environmental concerns inherent in fracking; and the potential implications for the renewable energy industry.

The Panelists

Tim Carr

Timothy R. Carr came to West Virginia University in 2007 as the first Marshal Miller Energy Professor in the Department of Geology and Geography. Dr. Carr is also a visiting professor at carrthe China University of Geosciences in Wuhan and consultant to the private sector and the US State Department.  Current research projects are in the areas of unconventional resources, subsurface petroleum geology and geophysics, energy systems, carbon capture and storage, and developing information systems to improve public access to petroleum information and technology. Prior to coming to West Virginia, Carr worked for the Kansas Geological Survey as chief of the Energy Research Section and as senior scientist for the Kansas Geological Survey at the University of Kansas. He was also co-director of the Energy Research Center and adjunct professor in the University of Kansas, Department of Geology. His experience also includes 13 years with Atlantic Richfield (ARCO), where he worked in a number of research, operations and management positions. At ARCO, Carr was involved in both exploration and development projects in locations including Alaska, the North Sea, East Greenland, California and Kansas. Carr has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Wisconsin, a master’s in geology from Texas Tech University and a doctorate in geology from the University of Wisconsin.


Jessica Helm

Jessica Helm leads the Sierra Club’s Grassroots Network Hydrofracking Team, and has served on the Sierra Club Board of the Directors since 2011.  Jessica earned her HelmDoctorate in Neuroscience from Stony Brook University studying the signaling properties of inhibitory interneurons in the cortex. She is currently engaged in a postdoctoral fellowship at the Silent Spring Institute, which is dedicated to understanding and preventing the environmental causes of breast cancer and other environmental health issues. At Silent Spring Institute Jessica is developing a mobile app to help individuals reduce their exposure to chemicals in the home, investigating very high levels in people of certain chemicals associated with consumer products, and studying gene expression in response to mammary carcinogens. A recent transplant to Boston, this will be her first visit to Maine.


Erin Mansur ’95

Erin Mansur is the Revers Professor of Business Administration at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. His mansurinterests are in the fields of industrial organization and environmental economics, focusing primarily on questions regarding energy markets and energy policy. Recent papers examine how hydrofracking affects local employment and wages, how low natural gas prices affect power plants’ emissions, how mergers of vertically integrated firms affect electricity market outcomes, and how charging electric cars affects power plants’ emissions. Professor Mansur’s research has appeared in journals including in the American Economic Review, the Review of Economics and Statistics, the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, the Journal of Law and Economics, the Journal of Industrial Economics, and the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management. Prior to joining Tuck, he taught the Department of Economics at Dartmouth College, the School of Management at Yale University, and the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University. He holds a B.A. in Biology from Colby College and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley.



Sahan T. M. Dissanayake, Assistant Professor in Economics and Associate Director of the Goldfarb Center

Additional Information

The Cotter Debate Series

Campus Map

About the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement


For more information, please contact:

Alice Elliott Associate Director, Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement Colby College 207-859-5313