Friday, November 4, 2011

Finally! Video of Dr. Smith's Marcellus Shale Lecture Kicked Loose Under FOIL

Capping nearly six months of persistence under New York's Freedom of Information Law, the blog NY Shale Gas Now is finally able to broadcast video coverage of an informative (but not excessively wild) lecture on the geology of Marcellus Shale by New York State Geologist Langhorne "Taury" Smith.

It is still a matter of conjecture who or what made this whole caper necessary in the first place.  As covered in chronological detail in a separate blog post here, it all started when the video for Dr. Smith's April 7, 2011, appearance at SUNY UB was mysteriously withheld afterwards by the series-sponsoring Geology Department.

The other seven speakers in the series — a group of professionals ranging from fellow geologists, to industry executives, to lawyers, to former agency people — all had their talks given permanent coverage online for all who could not attend in person.  But Smith, unaccountably, had only his PowerPoint file put up.  In fact, the link space for Dr. Smith's video is still marked at the time of this writing with an asterisked apology on SUNY UB's web page directing viewers to each of these files.

The situation looked alarmingly related to a prior incident, occurring that same Spring, and triggered by a generally pro-natural gas interview Smith had given to the Albany Times-Union.  It looked like he had haplessly wandered into an entanglement with administrative overseers within the State Education Department, which sits above the State Museum, the branch of state government where he works.  The conflict was apparently rooted in bureaucratic perceptions to the effect that public touchiness over the thoroughly contentious shale gas/hydraulic fracturing issue meant Smith was suddenly going to have to clear all his public statements beforehand with PR staffers.

The moves against Smith in the weeks afterwards struck many free-thinking observers as a public muzzling, or as outright censorship — and as a panic-led assault upon the stature of publicly employed subject-matter experts.  And it raised the spectre that the Marcellus Shale debates had gotten so out of hand in New York State, freedom of thought — and freedom of discussing and sharing ordinary scientific information — was now in danger of being lost.

Anyway — whether that's really yet in question or not — I, for one, was not gonna put up with that shit. 

So here is Dr. Smith's lecture:

[Here also is a link to a download-able copy of Dr. Smith's accompanying visual aids in PowerPoint, which will be kind of important to have on your desktop during the lecture, since these slides will not be visible within the video.]

And here is Dr. Smith's Q&A:


Mike Knapp said...

Congrats Andy! I know this was a long time coming. Thanks for putting in what I know was a huge effort.


Hell_Is_Like_Newark said...

I watched the first video last night. Seriously? This got him in serious trouble? All he did was lay out a lot of facts!

I wouldn't mind him coming down to our New York offices (I work in a field related to energy) and doing a presentation.