With hydraulic fracturing - also known as fracking - expected to be used in the coming years to tap into Marcellus and Utica shale deposits in the Mid-Ohio Valley, several different organizations have planned events meant to answer questions and spark conversation about the oil and gas boom that is coming.
Marietta College is hosting a community event series on the topic, with the first event scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 26 in the college's Alma McDonough Auditorium.
There, community members will be able to see a documentary called "Gasland," which won the Special Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.
"It presents some of the harms rather than the benefits of fracking," said Arielle Jennings, director of civic engagement at the college.
Jennings said the screening of the documentary will be followed up with a natural gas and fracking panel forum, on which there will be people who are for and against fracking, including Robert Chase, a petroleum engineering professor at the college and Richard Wittberg, executive director of the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department, as well as others.
The forum will be held at 7 p.m. Jan. 31, also in the Alma McDonough Auditorium.
If you go
Screening of the documentary "Gasland"; 7 p.m., Jan. 26, Alma McDonough Auditorium, Marietta College, 215 Fifth St., Marietta.
Economic impact and opportunities forum; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 27, Lafayette Hotel, 101 Front St., Marietta. Call the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce at 373-5176 to make a reservation by Thursday.
The natural gas and fracking panel forum; 7 p.m. Jan. 31, Alma McDonough Auditorium, Marietta College campus.
All events are free and open to the public.
She said the events fit in with the college's theme this year of "energy and environment."
"One of the most pressing issues in our community that's raising environmental concerns is natural gas and fracking," Jennings said.
There will also be a forum held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan 27 at the Lafayette Hotel in Marietta. Titled the "Economic Impact and Opportunities Forum," it is being sponsored by the Ohio Energy Resource Alliance, the Ohio Small Business Development Center in Marietta and the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce.
Charlotte Keim, president of the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce, said the forum is geared toward those who own a business that will in some way be impacted by the shale drilling, as well as those who are interested in starting a business that might be impacted by the drilling.
"It's not to tell people what shale is or to explain landowners' rights and leases," Keim said. "But I would encourage people who are in business, even if they don't think there's an opportunity for them, to plan on attending. It will be a chance to understand from other communities what businesses have seen an increase based on this (drilling activity)."
Several speakers and panelists will participate in the forum, including a few who are from areas where the hydraulic fracturing of shale is already taking place, such as Pennsylvania.
Rebecca Heimlich, director of the Ohio Energy Resource Alliance, said the forum is just one of many the organization is holding across the state in an effort to educate people about the economic development, job growth and energy security opportunities coming out of shale fracking.
She said the alliance is comprised of the Ohio Petroleum Council, the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program, Energy In Depth-Ohio and the Buckeye Energy Forum.
"They're separate groups and they have their own focus but we've come together for this purpose," Heimlich said.
Ohio Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta, is among those who will speak during the forum. He said he will give an overview of the industry and discuss what's currently happening within it.
"This is more about how to be sure we take advantage of and leverage these opportunities we have," Thompson said. "There are many iterations and opportunities for jobs that don't immediately occur to (some people)."
He added that even hotels and restaurants will benefit, as companies move into the area and begin drilling.
All of the events being held are free and open to the public; however, reservations should be made for the Economic Impact and Opportunities Forum by calling the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce at 373-5176 no later than Thursday.