By Samantha Malone, MPH, CPH – Communications Specialist, CHEC & DrPH Student, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH); and Drew Michanowicz, MPH, CPH – GIS Specialist, CHEC & DrPH Student, GSPH
My coworker, Drew Michanowicz, and I landed in Denver, Colorado on Saturday morning in preparation for the 2010 American Public Health Association Conference. CHEC sent us to this meeting of over 12,000 public health professionals in order to learn more about the impacts of natural gas drilling in shale formations where it has been occurring longer than in the Marcellus Shale, to ascertain how FracTracker’s blog and DataTool can be improved upon, and to get a general feeling on the perspectives that people concerned with prevention have about the gas drilling.
Days one and two in Denver involved getting oriented with our surroundings, and attending a few meetings, including a very interesting one for the Union of Concerned Scientists.
On Saturday, Drew’s friend who lives in Denver gave us a quick tour of the city. Downtown appears to have been built on a grid, something I wish Pittsburgh could have done to make it easier to navigate! Aside from the residents’ sincere interest in skiing, buffalo, and tiaras apparently, here are some interesting facts…
The streets are wide, and we saw tons of people walking the streets. (The unseasonably warm weather certainly didn’t hurt.) Denver has some of the healthiest residents in the U.S., probably due to their incredible system for public transit and biking. Denver sits at the foothills of the Rockies and has some of the most beautiful sunrises (picture left) I have ever seen. Additionally, the residents of Denver seem laid-back and appreciative of the natural resources they have at their close disposal.
Another fact that many people probably don’t know about Colorado: shale gas drilling is quite prevalent here, with over 27,000 wells drilled state-wide. (PA has about 1/20th the amount of drilled wells in the Marcellus Shale so far.) Despite the passion that Colorado residents seem to have for their natural environment, natural gas drilling occurred quite prevalently here.
What does this tell us about the future of drilling in the much larger Marcellus Shale play (which underlies most of PA)? See the snapshot below to view all of the shale gas plays in the continental U.S.