Notable upcoming events and other announcements

Update from US EPA on Hydraulic Fracturing Study

Update from US EPA on Hydraulic Fracturing Study

Update from US EPA on Hydraulic Fracturing StudyThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Science Advisory Board (SAB) released Federal Register Notices announcing a public meeting and a teleconference where the Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory Panel will provide feedback on the Study of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources: Progress Report. The public will also have the opportunity to provide comments for the Panel’s consideration.

Information on how to view a webcast of the meeting will be posted on the SAB website prior to the meeting. More information on the Science Advisory Board’s Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory Panel and its activities is available here.

In addition, EPA’s Federal Register Request for Information to Inform Hydraulic Fracturing Research Related to Drinking Water Resources will be closing on Tuesday, April 30, 2013.

2016 New FracTracker Logo

Seeking Office Manager – Camp Hill, PA

Deadline to apply: April 19, 2013 (CLOSED)

Purpose:

To manage routine office and personnel needs on a part-time basis (15 hours per week) at the Camp Hill office of the FracTracker Alliance. The FracTracker Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the public’s understanding of the impacts of the global oil and gas industry by collecting, interpreting, and sharing data and visualizations through our website, FracTracker.org. We partner with citizens, organizations and institutions – allied in a quest for objective, helpful information – to perpetuate awareness and support actions that protect public health, the environment, and socioeconomic well-being.

Duties:

    • Office Supplies: Inventory  and order or purchase office supplies and equipment as needed
    • Filing: File receipts, non-confidential staff records, and other documents and maintain an efficient filing system
    • Phone: Answering, screening and directing calls as needed
    • Copying and Printing: Coordinate such services with area vendors when needed
    • Expenses: Compile monthly expense reports and all receipts from all employees for executive director approval, prepare copies for filing, and forward originals to the Community Foundation of the Alleghenies for payment and duplicate filing
    • Tracking Leave: Keep records of annual, sick, and other leave taken by each staff member
    • Mail: Process, log, and send outgoing mail and check  PO box twice a week for incoming mail
    • Travel Arrangements: Aid executive director in researching transportation and lodging options and making reservations for work-related travel
    • Conference Calls: Track scheduling and use of conference calling bridge by staff
    • Event Preparations: Help prepare materials for occasional on-site or off-site meetings, displays, trainings, and workshops
    • Insurance Matters: Assisting with personnel and administrative issues relating to healthcare, workman’s compensation, and other types of insurance
    • Other Administrative and Clerical Duties: as assigned

Preferred Skills:

Proficiency with Microsoft Word, Excel, and other commonly-used computer programs; Problem solver; Independent worker; Well-organized; Good communication skills (verbal and written); Familiarity with office equipment; Interest in the mission of the FracTracker Alliance

Minimum Education/Qualifications:

    • Prior experience managing or working in an office environment
    • High school diploma
    • Current driver’s license

Compensation:

$13-15/hour to start based on experience. The position is not eligible for benefits as currently structured (less-than 20 hours per week).

How to Apply

The deadline for application is April 19, 2013. Interested parties should send a cover letter and resume to:
FracTracker Alliance, PO Box 1576, Camp Hill, PA 17001.

Update from US EPA on Hydraulic Fracturing Study

Summary of EPA Roundtables Available

From the US Environmental Protection Agency:

EPA recently posted a summary of the five technical roundtables held in November 2012 to help inform EPA’s Hydraulic Fracturing Study. Each roundtable focused on a different stage of the hydraulic fracturing water cycle:

  • Water acquisition
  • Chemical mixing
  • Well injection
  • Flowback and produced water
  • Wastewater treatment and waste disposal

Technical roundtables are an important component of EPA’s Study of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources. The roundtables allow for external subject-matter experts from a variety of stakeholder groups to discuss the work underway to answer the key research questions of the study, and to identify possible topics for technical workshops.

SkyTruth Aggregates FracFocus Data

Among the many provisions under Act 13, Pennsylvania oil and gas operators now must join several other states by disclosing some generalized information about chemical additives to wells that undergo hydraulic fracturing to a national registry called FracFocus.org. On their main page, FracFocus describes their role in the following manner:

In a single year, FracFocus has made a national impact from the Beltway to the Bakken. During this time, more than 200 energy-producing companies have registered over 15,000 well sites through FracFocus.

This success is the result of nationally recognized organizations working with the oil and natural gas industry to provide public transparency. Learn more and see highlights from the first year of FracFocus.

However, there are strong differences of opinion on what transparency really means.  Does it entail specific data about a well, general information about all the wells, or both?  The chemical registry is focused on specifics about individual wells, and although the data is easily accessible for them, they don’t offer data downloads for users interested in a wider scope.  Whether this amounts to data transparency has everything to do with the lens that one looks through.

Let’s say, for example, that you already know a bit about a given well.  As a random example, let’s use API# 37-131-20104, a well operated by Chesapeake in Wyoming County, PA.  When we conduct a search, we are given the opportunity to download a PDF where we can learn a great deal about the well that is not available from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) data download section. We learn, for example, that the well was fractured on May 8, 2012 using over 1.3 million gallons of water, as well as the maximum amounts used of chemical additives the hydraulic fracturing fluid, and why they were added to the mix.

Objectively, that is a large step forward in transparency, as this information was not available before.   But what if your questions about the industry are broader?  You may want to know, for example, if some operators are putting diesel fuel into the hydraulic fracturing fluid, or whether some anti-bacterial agents are more prominent in certain geographies than others.  You might want to do a comparison on which companies claim data to be proprietary, relative to the industry as a whole, or whether there is any correlation between particularly noxious chemical additives and well production.  To answer questions like these, you just need a summary of the data that FracFocus already offers.  But unfortunately, FracFocus will not provide this aggregated data.

To help address questions such as these, SkyTruth.org has extracted the data from the PDF documents using a combination of automated and manual techniques, and have made the results available to FracTracker and the general public.  The result is a major step forward in data transparency; even before the chemical data have been picked through and combed over, there are still several new types of data that the general public didn’t have access to before.

FracFocus Data Available for Mapping
SkyTruth’s efforts have allowed us to map FracFocus data. Click on the map above to explore.

The data include over 26,000 records from FracFocus since January 1, 2011 from twenty different states around the country. Now it is possible for people other than industry insiders to learn about variables not provided by the various states, including depth of target formation, fracturing dates, amounts of water used. There is also a separate dataset including all listed chemicals at each well, which comes in at well over 800,000 records for the 21 months of the report.

Of course, users must remain mindful that this is not, in fact, a completely comprehensive dataset.  While several states have recently required disclosure of the chemical additives, in remains a voluntary disclosure in other locations.  Some of the chemicals are listed in the abstract, but marked as proprietary, which naturally limits our understanding of what was put into the well.  And as with other large datasets of this sort, it is likely that there are a significant number of omissions and errors.

At FracTracker, we’d like to extend our gratitude to both FracFocus for collecting the data and making it public, and to SkyTruth, for aggregating it and making it more usable.  In our view, both of these steps are critical for true data transparency.  This transparency, in turn, is indispensable for making an enhanced understanding of the oil and gas industry possible.

Fall Media Tours

Event Notice: FracTracker Alliance would like to invite members of the media to participate in one of our media tours scheduled for the fall of 2012 in northeastern Pennsylvania. These tours are made possible through the support of the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds and the William Penn Foundation.

As part of our mission to educate and inform the public about shale gas issues, these tours are designed to highlight specific lesser-known impacts of the drilling industry and familiarize reporters and journalists about the work of FracTracker Alliance and our website’s mapping and data capabilities.

The first tour occurred on Thursday, October 25th and addressed forest and wildlife considerations in Loyalsock State Forest. This event included a driving tour with guest speakers: Ephraim Zimmerman (Western PA Conservancy), Paul Zeph (Audubon), Dick Martin (PA Forest Coalition), Curt Ashenfelter (Keystone Trails Association) and Mark Szybist  (PennFuture). A follow up to that media tour will be posted on FracTracker soon, but in the meantime check out the photos below:

Note these dates and topics for the next two fall tours:

  • Friday, November 16 – New perspectives on water quality impacts
  • Thursday, November 29 – Challenges to agriculture

There is a $10 fee (check made payable to the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies) if you would like us to provide you with a bagged lunch for future tours. Otherwise the events are free, including transportation by van during the tour, but registration is required. Please email Samantha Malone to save your seat on the next trip: malone@fractracker.org.

Additionally, starting in November 2012, we will be distributing a bi-weekly e-newsletter specifically designed for the media featuring grassroots stories, maps, and data that may be of use in writing your own articles. Sign up to receive the e-newsletter below:

Subscribe to our media mailing list

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The Changes that Autumn Brings

by Brook Lenker, Executive Director, FracTracker Alliance

FracTracker Alliance Logo

New Logo

FracTracker continues to evolve to meet the growing demands of a nation – and world – confronted with unconventional gas and oil drilling and the accompanying challenges. The summer of 2012 has been a busy one, and while it’s officially ended, it heralded several new beginnings for FracTracker.org.

FracTracker has incorporated and filed for nonprofit status with the Internal Revenue Service.  The organization’s name is the FracTracker Alliance. The word alliance was chosen because it illustrates that we are ‘allied’ in a ceaseless quest with others to obtain, analyze, map, and share insightful and objective information relating to every facet of shale gas activity.  While we appreciate the strong foundation that the University of Pittsburgh provided us, we’re now an independent entity and hope to thrive in service of a public that can benefit from the resources we provide. This change wouldn’t have been possible without the cooperation and affirmation of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies who is our administrative host or, for the legal junkies, our supported organization. Nor would it have been achievable without the faith and financial support of the Heinz Endowments, an ongoing champion of FracTracker.

A strong organization needs a strong Board of Directors, and we have a winning lineup. John Dawes, Executive Director of the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds, serves as our President. Mike Kane, President of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies is our first Treasurer. From the gas fields of Colorado, we’ve recruited Judy Jordan to be Secretary, a private consultant with a wealth of experience on shale gas issues and non-profit management. (Update: May 1, 2013 – Judy Jordan no longer serves on our Board of Directors.) Two accomplished researchers, Dr. Ben Stout of Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia and Dr. Sara Wylie of Northeastern University in Boston add additional expertise to the inaugural board. Last, but not least, Caren Glotfelty, Director of the Environment Program for the Heinz Endowments, shares her pervasive wisdom as an ex-officio board member.

Accompanying the new board is a new staff – well, sort of. Matt Kelso and Samantha Malone, two stalwarts of FracTracker operations at the University of Pittsburgh have officially moved to the FracTracker Alliance. We’re lucky to have them. Matt is the Manager of Data and Technology, while Sam serves as the Manager of Science and Communications. Karen Edelstein, our multi-skilled liaison representing FracTracker on a contractual basis in New York is now our part-time Program Coordinator in the empire state.  To the west, talented Ted Auch, a soil scientist from Cleveland, joins the team on October 1 as our Program Coordinator in Ohio. I have the pleasure of working with all of them in my capacity as Executive Director. Of course, we all need a place to work, so we have four offices – in Camp Hill, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Ithaca, NY; and, Warren, OH – from which to serve you.

Our expanding presence outside of Pennsylvania is largely attributable to two new funding partners. The George Gund Foundation and Park Foundation are supporting our activities in Ohio and New York, respectively, and we are very appreciative.

We’re also very excited about the new mapping platform built on Esri technology and described more completely in this separate story. Amongst other benefits, the mapping tool will simplify visualization of the most commonly requested data, initially for Pennsylvania and adjacent states, and eventually other shale gas basins. I think you’re really going to like it!

So autumn has ushered in many changes at FracTracker, but rather than cooling down, things are warming up. Perhaps it is the pace of the work or just the good feeling one gets from collaborating with great people and brave, committed organizations day-to-day. Whatever the cause, know that FracTracker – now FracTracker Alliance – is ramping up capacity to be a more timely and powerful resource… for you.

Unveiling FracMapper, FracTracker’s new mapping system!

Transition to FracMapper

These are exciting times for those of us at FracTracker – now officially the FracTracker Alliance. One of the many changes that we have been working on over the last few months is a new mapping utility for website visitors who want an easy-to-use point and click tool – what we are affectionately calling FracMapper.

FracMapper runs on an Esri-based platform called ArcGIS Online. As those in the GIS world may know, Esri is the largest company in the world that specializes in helping people make maps with GIS technologies. You don’t need to be registered to use FracMapper, although we do highly encourage you to sign up for our monthly e-newsletter, which keeps recipients up-to-date with FracTracker news and information about shale gas.

There are a lot intuitive features available on the new tool as of today’s launch. See the list below for just a few of them. We are also in the process of developing a few more features, including the ability to store and share the data behind the maps. All of this is coming to you this fall as we slowly phase out our existing data/mapping platform (Data.FracTracker.org).

Current FracMapper Features

  • Maps by state: PA, WV, OH, NY, etc. and US-wide
  • Layers as available by state (permits, violations, drilled wells, etc)
  • Search by location
  • Save a location and return to it later
  • Choose which layers you want to show on the map
  • View/hide the legend
  • Zoom or pan the map
  • Variety of base maps available
  • Click on a point or area for more information
  • Read text and brief metadata in the “About” section
  • Scale bar
  • Distance, area, and location measurement tools
  • File downloads
    • Shape file (polygon/lines)
    • CSV – comma-separated values files (points)
  • And many more…

Features in Development

  • Map exporting and printing (added February 2013)
  • Data search (e.g. by permit number)
  • Sticky notes
  • Clip and ship – Will allow for a targeted download of data from a self-designated an area of interest (e.g. Allegheny County)
  • Charting, including within the popup boxes
  • Data storage
  • Additional states, countries, and map layers

Don’t worry! The data focus of FracTracker.org is only going to grow with the implementation of FracMapper. We are designing the new platform to include the capacity to store and share your data. We are hoping to roll out that feature by spring 2013. Contact us with questions: Info@FracTracker.org.

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2012 Health Effects of Shale Gas Extraction Conference

Archived

This article has been archived and is provided for reference purposes only.

Registration Open

Registration is now open for the 2012 Health Effects of Shale Gas Extraction Conference being hosted by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health on November 9, 2012 in Pittsburgh, PA. The process is entirely online this year. Click here to register through the PA Public Health Training Center’s (PAPHTC) website. Registrants must sign up for a user name and password through PAPHTC before registration can be completed.

Speakers

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Dan Bain, PhD — Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Geology and Planetary Science
  • Michelle Bamberger, MS, DVM — Veterinarian, Vet Behavior Consults
  • David Brown, ScD — Environmental Health Consultant, Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project
  • Donald S. Burke, MD — Dean, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health
  • Leonard Casson, PhD, PE, BCEE — Associate Professor/Academic Coordinator, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Swanson School of Engineering; Secondary Appointment – Associate Professor, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Graduate School of Public Health
  • Jeffrey Dick, PhD — Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Youngstown State University
  • Alexandra Hakala, PhD — Geochemist, National Energy Technology Laboratory, Geosciences Division, Office of Research and Development
  • Elaine Hill — Doctorate student, Department of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University
  • Jill Kriesky, PhD — Senior Project Coordinator, University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health Department, Center for Healthy Environments and Communities
  • Brook Lenker, MA — Director, FracTracker Alliance
  • Robert Oswald, PhD — Professor of Pharmacology, Department of Molecular Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University
  • Radisav Vidic, PhD — Professor of Environmental Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Pittsburgh

Academic Posters

To support the educational and professional development of students and young professionals in this field, the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health is offering 15-20 complimentary posterboard spaces for this year’s shale gas conference. The recipients will be selected by the conference coordinating committee, and each accepted applicant will present during both of the scheduled conference poster sessions on November 9th. Those selected to present their posters are also eligible for one of two monetary awards of $50, which will be presented at the conclusion of the day-long conference. More information

Learn more on the conference website: shalegas.pitt.edu

Request for Papers:  Special Issue of the ASCE Journal of Environmental Engineering

Topic: Environmental Aspects of Shale Gas Development

Submission Deadline:  September 30, 2012

Guest Editors:
Jeanne VanBriesen, Carnegie Mellon University
Michel Boufadel, Temple University

Unconventional gas in tight shales like the Barnett, the Marcellus, and the Eagle Ford formations is changing the view of domestic natural gas supply. Directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing has opened up new resources, but also opens new debates on the impacts of extraction technologies on water and air resources. Environmental engineers are leading technology developments in green completions, as well as investigating the effects of drilling on water and air quality.

ASCE is pleased to announce a special issue of the Journal of Environmental Engineering broadly encompassing the following aspects: Water resources and allocation, migration of fluids (liquids and gases) in aquifers and waterways, produced water treatment, and air quality.

Prospective authors are requested to prepare manuscripts according to the guidelines published at Journal of Environmental Engineering. Submission of a manuscript for the special issue does not guarantee publication. Manuscripts will be subject to the same peer-review process for all manuscripts published in the Journal of Environmental Engineering. Submit articles to editorial manager.

A detailed timeline for publication of the special issue is given below:

Schedule

Submission deadline: September 30, 2012
First round of reviews: December 30, 2012
Final decision: February 28, 2013
Accepted manuscripts due: March 30, 2013
Publication: Late 2013/Early 2014

Prospective authors for the special issue should address cover letters to Special Issues Editor Dionysios (Dion) D. Dionysiou. If you have questions regarding this special issue, please contact Jeanne VanBriesen or Michel Boufadel.

Trail Logbook Project

Collaborative Trail Logbook – Reporting Gas Industry Impacts on PA Trail Experiences

(Harrisburg) – FracTracker.org and the Keystone Trails Association are proud to launch Trail Logbook: Reporting Gas Industry Impacts on Pennsylvania Trail Experiences – an effort to collect information from hikers and other trail users who have had negative or hazardous encounters while recreating in PA.

“Throughout the Marcellus Shale region, more and more we’re hearing of problems from our constituents,” said Curt Ashenfelter, Executive Director of the Keystone Trails Association (KTA) – a volunteer-directed, public service organization dedicated to providing, preserving, protecting and promoting recreational hiking trails and hiking opportunities in PA. “Pennsylvania hikers are concerned about the effect of drilling and want to play a role in monitoring the impact of this industry on PA’s forests and hiking trails.

With a simple-to-use form – available online and as a mail-in postcard – data on a variety of trail impacts related to shale gas drilling activities will be uploaded to FracTracker.org, a website providing a common portal to share data, photos, maps, and information related to the issues corollary to the shale gas industry. Photos of reported impacts can also be submitted.

“We’re pleased to be a partner in this grassroots endeavor to aggregate what have to date been mostly anecdotal but often alarming reports from our state’s extraordinary network of trails,” said Brook Lenker, Director of FracTracker. “We hope the information gathered helps to clarify the nature of the impacts and leads to sustainable solutions.”

“With over 3,000 miles of hiking trails in Pennsylvania and tourism being the Commonwealth’s 2nd largest industry, it’s critical to expose and address recurring problems caused by gas drilling activities, “ Ashenfelter added. “With a quick feedback loop like FracTracker, we can report problems to the appropriate agencies and gas drilling companies and seek remediation quickly.”

For more information on the Trail Logbook project, contact:

To  see the Trail Logbook submission page or to submit data, visit: https://www.fractracker.org/logbook. If you would prefer to print out the logbook and mail it in, click here.

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