Tracking the Effects on Farms
By Samantha Malone, MPH, CPH – Communications Specialist, Center for Healthy Environments and Communities (CHEC), University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH); and Doctorate of Public Health (DrPH) Student, GSPH
If done improperly (or in excess), shale gas drilling has the potential to contaminate ambient air, surface water, drinking water, and/or ground water. A healthy agricultural system relies upon all of those media in varying degrees.On any given day, I receive roughly 50 emails from people concerned about the effects of natural gas drilling. Check out this document as an example. The topics of conversation are incredibly diverse, and yet the discussion surrounding the effects that drilling may have on our local farms is occurring more and more frequently. One of the reasons for this ‘boom’ in concern about our farms, in my opinion, is that the scientific evidence that connects drilling and hydraulic fracturing to the potential contamination of the food supply is lacking – while the anecdotal evidence is not.
As a result, people have even begun to compile ‘evidence’ suggesting that drilling has affected local agriculture, or will. I believe this is a research issue of great importance, and would welcome suggestions of additional resources (either pro or con) from readers. What are the concerns or questions that people have, you might ask? In a very simplified nutshell:
- How is the health of farm animals affected by industrial processes occurring nearby? (e.g. by accidentally drinking frac pond fluids or by the stress caused by noise pollution)
- How will shale gas drilling and forced pooling affect farmers who are applying for or trying to keep their organic farm certifications?
- Do the communities burdened with gas drilling truly ‘reap’ the rewards?
- Will the royalties some farmers receive cause them to produce more or less food on their property? And as a result, will access to local and fresh foods improve or decline? (Of the many benefits, access to local, fresh foods improves health by minimizing truck traffic used to ship the products, reducing farming’s carbon footprint – which affects climate change, and providing access to seasonal foods so that consumers do not rely upon packaged, nutritionally deficient food.)
Working with this map:
- Minimize the legend by clicking on the button that looks like a compass.
- Use the magnifying glasses on the left side of the gray toolbar to zoom in and out of the map.
- You can pan the map to different regions by clicking on the image and dragging your cursor.
- The “i” on the toolbar allows you to inspect a record (dot or colored area).
- You can change the background of the map to show roads or a Google Earth view using the three boxes on the right side of the toolbar.
- Clicking on the button with the arrows on the right-most edge of the toolbar will take you into FracTracker’s DataTool so that you can do more with the map, including share it!
- Local Food Production and Gas Drilling – Are they really compatible? – A compilation of articles, websites, and studies by Martha Goodsell
- Upcoming event: A New Threat to Sustainable Farming – Speaker: Sandra Steingraber, February 2, 2011 – 7pm, Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA
- Farm series blog post 1: What will happen to our farms? – By Samantha Malone, MPH, CPH
- Farm series blog post 2: Forced Pooling vs. Organic Farming – By Samantha Malone, MPH, CPH
- Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development study – Assessed the a more comprehensive economic impact that can be expected from shale gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale than previous studies
- Op Ed by local farmers – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette