A FRANK DISCUSSION ABOUT FRACKING, WITHOUT ALL THE FRACAS
Civil Discourse Forum Brings Together Opposing Experts to Discuss Economic Impact of Hydraulic Fracturing in Pennsylvania, April 17th at Beth Sholom Congregation
Elkins Park, PA – January 20, 2014 – The Bernard Wolfman Civil Discourse Forum announces the topic and speakers for its 2014 Forum. This year, the Forum will present two opposing experts on hydraulic fracturing, discussing the economic impact of the practice in Pennsylvania and surrounding states. The Forum takes place on April 17th, a month before a gubernatorial primary in which policies about fracking are center stage. This free public forum will model civil discourse and promises to provide participants with insight into this highly divisive issue and meaningful ways to become involved.
William Freeman, principal of Freeman Astor and past chair of the Natural Gas Use Committee of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, will discuss his support for fracking as a means to long-term job creation. Deborah Lawrence Rogers, founder and director of EnergyPolicyForum and a former Wall Street financial consultant, will challenge the viability of the economics of the industry.
Hydraulic fracturing – commonly known as fracking – enables the extraction of natural gas and oil from shale rock formations thousands of feet beneath the earth’s surface. A mix of water, sand and chemicals at high pressure create or restore fissures in the shale rock from which the natural gas flows. The Marcellus Shale, one of the largest shale gas areas in the U.S., is partially located in Pennsylvania. Proponents of fracking cite the need for energy independence and the potential to create jobs in multiple industries. Opponents cite concerns about environmental impact and question its economic model.
For the second year in a row, Chris Satullo, director of news and civic dialogue at WHYY and co-founder and co-director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Project for Civic Engagement, will moderate. In writing about last year’s Forum, Satullo jested, “A liberal and a conservative talked health care for two hours…and no one killed each other…but many learned that, beneath the shouting, scholars who really grasp the issue share a lot of common ground.”
According to Satullo, the way to achieve the forum’s objective of modeling civil discourse is to move from a framework of debate to one of exploration, to shift the focus from winning to problem solving.
The Bernard Wolfman Civil Discourse Project was launched in 2012 to memorialize former University of Pennsylvania Law School Professor and Dean and Harvard Law Professor Bernard Wolfman, a champion of civil rights and renowned scholar of legal ethics and tax law. It hosted its inaugural forum in March of 2013.
“Civil discourse is engagement in conversation to enhance understanding,” says Dina Wolfman Baker, Professor Wolfman’s daughter and chair of the Project’s trustees. “Intelligent, well-meaning people can have differing, reasoned positions about the economy, environment, healthcare, foreign policy, and how or whether they pray. There is no reason for name-calling. There is no reason to despise members of one’s community, merely because they hold opposing views.”
The Project draws upon the Jewish traditions of Tzedakah (justice) and Talmudic debate (seeking truth through listening to divergent truths), prohibition of Lashon Hara (an evil tongue), and the tradition of activism shared by most of the world’s mainstream religions.
The event, which celebrates freedom of speech, political activism and respectful dialogue, takes place during the Jewish holiday of Passover, which celebrates the Jews' exodus from slavery in Egypt to freedom.
Beth Sholom Congregation is located at 8231 Old York Road in Elkins Park.
The April 17th event is free, but requires pre-registration.
For more details or to register for the forum, please visit www.CivilDiscourseProject.org 
If you cannot register online, you may do so by calling Beth Sholom at 215.887.1342. You will be asked to commit to a civil discourse pledge at registration or upon arrival at the event.
To engage in the conversation, visit both:
CONTACT: Rachel Ezekiel-Fishbein - 215-635-1045 - 267-679-2463 - [email protected]