COLUMBUS, Ohio — The first-ever Energy Impacts Symposium is taking place this Wednesday and Thursday at The Ohio State University.
The event is an international research conference on the effects of new energy development — including both renewable and fossil fuels — on people, communities and economies.
Organizers are expecting about 140 energy-related social science experts from 25 U.S. states, Canada, five continents and 100 universities. The experts will represent fields such as public health, public policy, psychology, sociology, anthropology, political science and community development.
How energy development affects people
“The amount of energy development in the past decade has been huge, and has transformed communities across the U.S. and the world,” said Jeffrey Jacquet, assistant professor in Ohio State’s School of Environment and Natural Resources and co-chair of the event.
The research presented at the symposium will describe those transformations — both positive and negative — and what communities have done to try to “accentuate the positives and alleviate the negatives,” Jacquet said.
It also will describe the “impacts on people — the ways people, groups and landowners have reacted to and interacted with energy firms,” he said.
The school is in the university’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
The full conference program is at go.osu.edu/2017EnergyImpacts.
Ohio, for example, is having an oil and gas boom in its Marcellus and Utica shale regions, has more than 200 injection wells for disposing of oil and gas drilling waste, and is seeing the construction of natural-gas pipelines such as the Rover pipeline across the northern part of the state.
Both renewable, fossil fuels covered
Jacquet is a rural and natural-resource sociologist. His research focuses on renewable and fossil-fuel energy development, its social impacts, and includes more than 15 years spent studying the community impacts of hydraulic fracturing. He came to Ohio State last year from South Dakota State University.
While there, he and Julia Haggerty, assistant professor in Montana State University’s Department of Earth Sciences, received a National Science Foundation grant to establish the Energy Impacts Research Coordination Network. The network aims to coordinate scientists’ studies, prevent duplicate research, and combine data across geographic regions and energy types. The symposium is part of that effort.
“What lessons can be learned from wind farms that can be applied to shale development?” Jacquet said. “What experiences in Texas can be used in Ohio?”
Until now, he said, “these types of comparative and collaborative analyses haven’t been done despite all the new and fantastic research happening.”
Together, Jacquet and Haggerty serve as co-chairs of the network’s steering committee. Haggerty also is co-chair of the symposium.
Sharing new research, ideas
The event, for its part, will “give researchers across different energy types, geographies and disciplines a forum to share research, network and generate new ideas together,” Jacquet said.
Jacquet and Haggerty also received a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to help pay for 22 graduate students and early career scholars — called Energy Impacts Fellows — to attend the symposium.
“The idea is that we can reach the next generation of energy scholars,” Jacquet said.
The symposium will be in Ohio State’s Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, 2201 Fred Taylor Drive, on the university’s Columbus campus.
The second day of the symposium will start with a public breakfast program co-hosted by the Environmental Professionals Network. Called “Energy Development in Energy Host Communities,” the program will feature a panel discussion by experts from Ohio, Montana, Pennsylvania and South Dakota. Details are at go.osu.edu/July2017EPN.
The network is a nearly 2,000-member professional group coordinated by Jacquet’s home unit, the School of Environment and Natural Resources.
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Note: Media members are welcome to attend the symposium free of charge.