A complete list of all FracTracker posts.

EPA Announces Hydraulic Fracturing Webinar



On Wednesday March 2, 2011, the US Environmental Protection Agency will be hosting a webinar regarding its hydraulic fracturing drinking water study plan from 7:00 to 8:00 PM, Eastern Standard Time. If you are interested, you should register for the online event now, as space is limited to 1,000 participants.

This is a part of the public comment period before the draft of the study plan is reviewed by the Science Review Board, which is a group of independent scientists that works with EPA in an advisory capacity.

PA Fish and Boat Commission Targets Gas Extraction as Resource Threat


This article has been archived and is provided for reference purposes only.

Wastewater Facilities Accepting Marcellus Shale Brine and Major Drainage Basins. Click the map for a larger, dynamic view.

By Conrad Dan Volz, DrPH, MPH.
Director and Principal Investigator of the Center for Healthy Environments and Communities

Management Plans by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) have been released for public comment for the 3 major drainages in Pennsylvania:

Public meetings on each of these draft plans are underway and dates and times and places of future meetings for each basin are now available on the PFBC website.

The PFBC has as its goal of these management plans – to protect, conserve and enhance the aquatic resources of and provide fishing and boating opportunities. The PFBC also has an important role in investigating releases of brine water from oil and gas extraction operations. Mr. John Arway the Executive Director of the PFBC just published in the January / February Edition of Pennsylvania Angler and Boater a very sobering assessment of water withdrawals and permitted pollution of Pennsylvania waterways by NPDES permit holders. He states that end users of municipal water are paying increased costs for water purification because of companies that are allowed to pollute receiving waters. This is a very courageous statement and I concur wholly with him on this. His complete statement can be found here.

Below are presented excerpts from the PFBC Draft Three Rivers Management Plan that pertains to Marcellus Shale gas extraction. Most important is their statement in the draft plan that in 2008, several wastewater treatment plants located along the Monongahela River were accepting frac-flowback water from multiple sources. Unable to completely treat this water, plant outflows caused a temporary spike in conductivity (readings as high as 1,200 μS/cm) and total dissolved solids (TDS readings as high as 900 mg/L) in the Monongahela River during October and November 2008. Other passages related to Marcellus are:

  • “In June 2010, the Monongahela River was named number nine of the top ten America’s Most Endangered Rivers by American Rivers primarily because of continuing threats from water pollution impacts from natural gas extraction activities in the Marcellus Shale.”
  • “Since 2008, PADEP Southwest Regional Office in Pittsburgh has directed a comprehensive
    water quality monitoring investigation of the Monongahela River related to impacts from disposal of contaminated frac-flowback water from Marcellus Shale drilling sites. This office has also surveyed fish, mussel, and invertebrate assemblages of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers as well as collected water quality and sediment quality samples and evaluated riparian and instream habitats for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) Environmental
    Monitoring and Assessment Program for Great Rivers Ecosystems (EMAP-GRE). PADEP will
    provide PFBC information and results of Allegheny and Monongahela EMAP-GRE when the
    project is complete (in 2011).”
  • “Marcellus Shale is a unit of Devonian-age sedimentary rock found throughout the Appalachian
    Plateau. Named for a distinctive outcrop located near the village of Marcellus, New York,
    Marcellus Shale contains a massive and largely untapped natural gas reserve, which has high
    economic potential (trillions of dollars) given its proximity to high-demand markets in the eastern United States. Using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques, numerous Marcellus Shale wells have been installed within the upper Ohio River basin for exploitation of natural gas.”
  • “With any resource extraction operation, there are environmental consequences. For Marcellus
    Shale drilling, most issues involve the transport, treatment, and disposal of contaminated frac flowback water, a byproduct of hydraulic fracturing. In 2008, several wastewater treatment
    plants located along the Monongahela River were accepting frac-flowback water from multiple
    sources. Unable to completely treat this water, plant outflows caused a temporary spike in
    conductivity (readings as high as 1,200 μS/cm) and total dissolved solids (TDS readings as high
    as 900 mg/L) in the Monongahela River during October and November 2008.”
  • “Some Monongahela River tributaries continue to be disturbed by modern industries, such as longwall mining and Marcellus Shale drilling, including Dunkard Creek and Tenmile Creek. Major tributary streams of the upper Ohio River include Chartiers Creek (one of the most disturbed streams in the basin from numerous perturbations), Raccoon Creek (a recovering stream), and the Beaver River system.”

Pennsylvania’s DCNR Shale Thickness Datasets Added to DataTool

Three Belt Thickness of Devonian Black Shales in PA (small)Three Belt Thickness of Devonian Black Shales. Click image for a larger dynamic view.
Three datasets from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) have been added to FracTracker’s DataTool.  Each dataset indicates the thickness of a major carbon-rich black shale layer from the Devonian Period in Pennsylvania, including the Marcellus, Rhinestreet, and Huron.

The thickness in feet of the Marcellus Shale. Click the gray compass rose and double carat (^) to hide those menus.

The thickness in feet of the Rhinestreet Shale. Click the gray compass rose and double carat (^) to hide those menus.

  • Thickness of the Huron (Ohio) Shale. The Huron Shale is an Upper Devonian black shale that is more recent (and less deep) than the Rhinestreet Shale. It is a widespread formation ranging over several states, but in Pennsylvania, it is only present in the extreme northwest corner.

The thickness in feet of the Huron Shale. Click the gray compass rose and double carat (^) to hide those menus.

For an interesting cross-section view of Northwestern Pennsylvania rock formations visit this link from the DCNR website.

Data Accessibility and Usability Index

While anyone with a registered user account can put data up on FractTracker’s DataTool, sometimes finding and collecting relevant data in a usable form is more difficult than it should be. I have examined datasets from a wide variety of places (1) and agencies, and after encountering numerous issues, I have devised a grading scheme to reflect the quality of the data being distributed, to be known as the Data Accessibility and Usability Index (DAUI).


The DAUI considers variables in the following seven categories:

  • Accessibility (20 points): How easy is the data to obtain?
  • Usability (20 points): How much preparation is required to be able to analyze the data?
  • Completeness (15 points): Is there anything missing from the data that would interfere with analysis or mapping?
  • Metadata (15 points): Are the data column descriptions and data source information readily available?
  • Responsiveness (10 points): Has the agency been helpful with information requests? (2)
  • Accuracy (10 points): Are there errors in the data? (3)
  • Cost (10 points): Is the data free? (4)

Data Accessibility and Usability Index grading scheme, 100 total points. Scroll to the right to see additional categories.

Grading Examples

It is important to note that each grade given represents only one specific dataset at one point in time. On occasion, certain aspects of any given dataset are updated by the agency controlling the data, hopefully for the better.

One recent example is the Pennsylvania drilled wells (spuds) database. Until recently, this was published on HTML tables on a monthly basis, but 2011 data is now available in a single Excel file. In addition, this year’s wells have location information, which was missing from previous years data. Although PASDA maintains a list of about 125,000 oil and gas locations in the Commonwealth directly from the DEP, there were still thousands of wells that didn’t match in the years between 1998 and 2010.

Since the new dataset in Pennsylvania only covers 2011 wells so far, it is appropriate to grade both datasets separately. This will also serve as a functional example on how the DAUI works.

Grades for PA DEP’s Drilled Wells Dataset. Scroll to the right for additional grades and total scores.

As you can see, the two changes that they have made have bumped the PA DEP’s grade up from a D- to a solid A. And in fact, the D- might have been generous. Several of our DataTool users have suggested that there might be significant omissions in the older report, but I have never been able to conclusively establish that as a fact. If it is true, the Accuracy rating would fall from 10 to 0, leaving a total score of 50 for that database.

Let’s look at another example, Wells in Quebec near the St. Lawrence, published by Quebec’s bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement. To get the data up on FracTracker, the data had to translated to English (not a demerit, just a step in the process), copied from the PDF file to Excel and pasted so that each column of data fit on one cell. Then the data could be distributed using the space (“ “) as a delimiter, at which point the cells needed to be manually aligned to allow for proper concatenation. Once all of that was done, it was necessary to change the location information from Degree Minute Second format to Decimal Degree to be able to map the data. Finally, the units of measure for depth were mixed, including both meters and feet, which should be consistent. In short, not a very satisfactory experience with the data. Here’s how it grades, based on that experience:

Grade for Quebec’s bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement Wells in Quebec near the St. Lawrence dataset. Scroll to the right for more grades and total score.

Despite my frustrations with this data, the information is published on the agency’s website, appears to be complete, and is well explained. The issue of publishing this dataset on a PDF (which cannot directly be analyzed) was the main result for the agency’s C grade.

Here’s the grade for a dataset that I can’t post: The Railroad Commission (RRC) of Texas’ Newark East (Barnett Shale) gas wells.

Clearly, the RRC is in possession of a tremendous amount of data. You can click on the “Well log” link and see dozens of pages of scanned original documents. However, there are a couple of problems with this data which makes in unusable for FracTracker. First of all, there are over 8,000 records, but it is impossible to view more than 100 at a time. Those would have to be copied and pasted manually from the HTML tables. While that is possible to do, it isn’t worth the effort, because there is no location information. Knowing that they must be able to produce an Excel sheet with some basic data about their drilled wells, I contacted the RRC, and was told that what I wanted could be obtained…for a cost. In my opinion, the RRC is being stubborn on this. They have terrific data, and yet they do everything they can to be (politely) difficult. As I did not elect to purchase data at this time, I will only grade what is available online.

Grade for the Railroad Commission of Texas’ Newark East (Barnett Shale) Drilled Wells dataset. Scroll to the right for more grades and the total score.

Because they elected not to release the data upon request, the RRC earned a failing grade. Had the RRC simply created and sent the proper Excel file from their database, they might have earned 90 points on the DAUI. If they had decided that well location information was a basic thing that citizens might want to know, and posted a downloadable link on their website, they could have full marks. If the for-cost version of the data has everything that is desired, it would have a maximum score of 80, because it was not free and had to be requested.

These three examples show how the DAUI system works. In the near future, I will grade all relevant oil and gas datasets against the same metric. Hopefully, a comprehensive picture of the various agencies that control oil and gas data will emerge.

Scoring 100 points on the DAUI should be attainable, almost 100 percent of the time. If governmental agencies really do not have data on wells, permits, violations, and production, then they are failing their respective citizens, whose lives are affeted by the oil and gas industry, often quite profoundly. If the agencies that control the data simply are in the habit of making it difficult to access, then I must remain hopeful that they will be pressured to realize that is an unacceptable strategy for the 21st century.

  1. This list includes Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Arkansas, Texas, Utah, North Dakota, New Mexico, Colorado, and Quebec. Not all of the datasets have been complete enough to post on FracTracker, a frustration which contributed significantly to the creation of this grading scheme.
  2. If no requests have been made regarding a given dataset, or if the data simply does not exist in a desired format, full credit should be given in this category.
  3. Accuracy issues can be very difficult to verify. Also, if certain data doesn’t exist, that is accounted for elsewhere. As with Responsiveness, the agency is afforded the benefit of the doubt here.
  4. I have seen numerous datasets available from state agencies that cost money, with costs ranging from about $10 to well over $1,000. This is often explained as “recovering costs” of data distribution. In my opinion, this is unacceptable. While maintaining accurate data is undoubtedly expensive, it is an obligation of the overseeing agency to do so, and making the data available to the public is really a minimal component of that process. If it is a genuine budgetary constraint, then the agency should merely charge more for permit fees, etc., so that they are adequately able to perform their job.

PA DEP Upgrades Drilled Well Data Distribution

The Pennsylvania DEP now has a linkto download all of the drilled wells from the Spud Report in Excel file format (1). This is a major upgrade over their previous system of posting online tables for each month, not only for the ease of access, but also because it contains complete location information, which previously had to be obtained elsewhere by matching the American Petroleum Institute (API) number with an external dataset; an imperfect system which resulted in thousands of wells between 1998 and 2010 for which location information could not be found.

Drilled wells in Pennsylvania in 2011. Click the gray compass rose and double carat (^) tabs for a complete view.

In addition, it utilizes the full API number. For example, in well number 37-005-30663-01-01, the initial 37 is the state code for Pennsylvania, and the 005 is the county code for Armstrong County.

  1. The Spud Date is the day that drilling begins on a particular well.
  2. API county codes, as well as a variety of other codes used by the PA DEP are explained here.

Citizen Experiences with Shale Gas Drilling


Sharing the experiences of citizens in the Marcellus Shale field
New! Op-ed in the Erie-Times News

Letter sent to CHEC’s director, Conrad Dan Volz, DrPH, MPH:
Dear Dr Volz,


I am a resident of Susquehanna CO PA, ground zero for natural gas extraction using hydraulic fracturing. Oil and Gas were exempt during the Bush/Cheney administration from all environmental federal regulations for Clean Air, Water, the Chemical Disclosure Act, Superfund Act etc….via the HALLIBURTON Loophole. Halliburton developed fracking technology, and are one of the main drillers and also produce the chemicals used in the process. The industry does not have to reveal what toxic chemicals they are injecting into our ground through our aquifers… it is proprietary. I urge you to watch Josh Fox’s Sundance Winning documentary “GASLAND” if you have not already seen it.
We have no rights to clean drinking water; the industry is counting on getting eminent domain to extract the natural resources from under our ground and criss cross our land with pipelines they will not inspect: we are Class 1 areas and our lives per Federal and State regs are not worthy of a safety or even a routine pipeline inspection plan as we are in rural sparsely populated areas. These natural gas transmission and gathering lines will not serve PA residents, but will export natural gas out of our county and country and sold on the open market for the highest profit margin. We have been invaded by multinational natural gas corporations who are contaminating our drinking water, polluting our air, making us sick, and the state is on their side. No one….not even the lawyers ultimately… have stood up for Dimock residents’ right to a source of clean drinking water. The bottom line is profit, not our health, our water, our lives. Cabot Oil and Gas contaminated the Dimock aquifer and got away with it. Tomorrow is a panel discussion in La Port, PA featuring Anthony Ingraffea, PhD in Rock Fracture Technology, Cornell Univ., and Terry Engelder, PhD from Penn State, who holds a PhD from Texas A&M in Geosciences. Dr Engelder stated publicly that Dimock was a “necessary sactifice” for progress, Penn State has done a lot of research funded by the Oil and Gas industry. Dr Ingraffea, has spoken the truth about the dangers of shale gas extraction using “fracking” techniques… injecting millions of gallons of fresh water with thousands of pounds of chemicals like benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene under high pressure 8000 feet underground to fracture the marcellus shale and capture escaping gases. We need your expertise and voice on the insight you may offer about the longterm cumulative health and environmental impacts to help us get a handle on the war being waged on our communities.

What Oil and Gas is doing in PA, WY, CO, WV, they have done for decades in third world countries: driven the indigenous people off natural resources they wanted access to . Well, my county has been invaded by corporations who are treating us like indigenous natives: we are the new native americans to be cleared from the land; drill rig workers have told us we are in the way. Seismic testing companies have started working on land where no gas leases were signed and when confronted they said we are oil and gas and we will do what we want. We are a third world country to Cabot, Halliburton, Chesapeake etc. PA Homeland Security with the FBI’s consent hired an Israeli surveillance firm, ITRR (Institute for Terrorism Research and Response) to spy on anti-natural gas drillers, “those fomenting dissent”, and shared the information with the natural gas industry. The Marcellus Industry Coalition hired former PA Governor, former Head of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, to do PR and lobby for them. They have portrayed the development of natural gas as a national security issue, and anyone who dissents is a terror threat. That means citizens trying to save their drinking water from contamination, citizens trying to educate their communities about the public health risks of drilling are terrorists. I attached a billboard we put up in our county that ended up analyzed in the Intelligence Bulletins. I am so sorry to ramble, but we need hope.

As a Pennsylvanian, if I litter on a state highway, e.g. throw a biodegradable banana peel on the road, I can be fined hundreds of dollars, yet the Halliburtons of the world…oil and gas….are polluting my air and water legally, and my state does not recognize my right to clean drinking water. We only have our own voices… we do not have millions of dollars to spend on lobbying so I am reaching out to you. Those of us living over marcellus shale, are the new native americans to be driven from their homes. We are the new third world population. The Susquehanna Watershed, the poor rural cousin to the wealthier more politically powerful Delaware Watershed, was allowed to be the guinea pig for marcellus shale extraction. But as the DRBC (Delaware River Basin Commission) has unveiled its owns set of rules and regulation for drilling, it seems they are readying to lift the moratorium in the Delaware Watershed before the EPA concludes its new comprehensive environmental impact study of marcellus shale extraction. The last one done in 2004 under Bush/Cheney…concluded shale gas extraction posed no threat at all to the environment. If you be willing to be on a panel discussion about marcellus shale, please let me know. Perhaps Iris Bloom of Protecting Our Water, based in Philly, could interview you on her new radio show FRACTURED DEMOCRACY…which is to be aired on a new truly grassroots public radio station WFTE in Scranton PA. I will send you her pilot program. Thanks, and I hope to hear from you.

Rebecca Roter
Dual resident Bucks/Susquehanna CO’s PA

Videos by another local citizen:


“Dogs became ill after drinking water near a previous gas well site”

“Chemicals used on well site”


“During Steckman Ridge Compressor Station accidental emergency release in 2009″
Thanks to Sandra McDaniel for sending these videos to us!

Get Trained Online to Use FracTracker: Webinar Series Kickoff!

This article is out of date. Please contact us for more information about being trained to use FracTracker’s system: info@fractracker.org

So you have checked out FracTracker’s blog and DataTool, but you’re still not quite sure how to get the most out of this system and you don’t have time to attend one of our in-person training sessions. Then you’re in luck!

Sam Malone, CHEC’s Communication’s Specialist, will be kicking off a series of 10 online training sessions to give you that boost you need. Audience participation is encouraged!

These sessions are scheduled to occur about every two weeks between February 21 – June 29, 2011. They are free, but registration is required. (The online registration form can be found at the end of this post.)

Webinar Schedule

Date Time Topic Recording
2/21/11 12-1pm EST Webinar #1 – Introduction to the FracTracker System Listen
3/9/11 5-6pm EST Webinar #2 – The DataTool – Registration & Exploration Listen
3/21/11 12-1pm EST Webinar #3 – The DataTool – Visualizing Data onto Snapshots Listen
4/4/11 5-6pm EST Webinar #4 – The DataTool – Importing Data Part 1 with Matthew Kelso Listen
4/18/11 12-1pm EST Webinar #5 – The DataTool – Importing Data Part 2 with Matthew Kelso Listen
5/4/11 5-6pm EST Webinar #6 – The DataTool – Sharing Snapshots Listen
5/16/11 12-1pm EST Webinar #7 – The Blog – Projects, Data Index, & Changes Listen
6/1/11 12-1pm EST Webinar #8 – Alternative Ways to Contribute Data & Stories Listen
6/13/11 12-1pm EST Webinar #9 – Wrapping Up – Additional Features &Questions Not recorded
6/29/11 5-6pm EST Webinar #10 – The Future of FracTracker w/Dr. Christen Not recorded

Scroll down this page to register for a particular session!

Don’t fret if you cannot participate in the live webinar; we plan to record and post the links to each of the webinars we conduct. Check back to this page to access the archived webinar recordings in the table above.

Not ready for a webinar training? All of CHEC’s upcoming events and in-person FracTracker training sessions can be found on our calendar.

Registration Details:

Upon completing the form above, we will store your email discretely until the online link to the webinar is ready for distribution. At that time you will receive an email from Sam (malone@fractracker.org) reminding you about the webinar and providing you with a link and login information to participate.

FracTracker Partners:

Still have questions? Contact us:  malone@fractracker.org  |  412-624-9379  |  Email preferred

Total Petroleum Systems in the Appalachian Basin; Definitions, Datasets and Snapshots


Stakeholder Awareness and Knowledge are Prerequisites for Informed Decision-Making Regarding Oil and Gas Extraction

By Conrad Dan Volz, DrPH, MPH

Our New York consultant, Karen Edelstein, has recently put onto FracTracker’s DataTool a number ofdatasets regarding other potential oil and gas source rocks and formations in the AppalachianBasin. Most of the formations on which she has posted data are not being actively drilled andexploited; they, therefore, only represent future areas of interest for oil and gas companies.However, the Utica-Lower Paleozoic Total Petroleum System, (FracTracker Snapshot 1below), which is more extensive and thicker than the Marcellus and underlies the extentof the Marcellus Shale by 1800 ft in western New York State and 5000 ft in south-centralPennsylvania, has already shown an ability to support commercial production.
Since capitaland human infrastructure are already in place for the Marcellus shale extraction, such as pipelines, arrangements for water withdrawals for fracturing, lease agreements, drilling and fracture capacity, and arrangements for wastewater disposal and trucking, the Utica has infrastructure advantages that may allow its exploitation sooner than other Appalachian petroleum basins.Even areas of the Utica beyond the Marcellus, particularly in eastern Ohio and Ontario, Canada,have been drilled and assessed and appear capable of producing natural gas in commerciallyviable quantities.

Utica Shale-Lower Paleozoic TPS, Applachian Basin (small)
Fractracker Snapshot 1. The Utica Shale
Click on the image for a better view.

The Appalachian Basin covers New York,Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, West Virginia, western Maryland, eastern Kentucky, westernVirginia, eastern Tennessee, northwestern Georgia, and northeastern Alabama (USGS). Appalachian landowners, mineral rights owners, citizens, communities, environmental organizations, and state and local government units should becomefamiliar with the geographic boundaries of Assessment Units making up Total PetroleumSystems (TPS). Horizontal drilling and hydrofracturing advances may open more of these petroleumsystems to commercial exploitation. Stakeholder awareness and information is critical to assurethat knowledge and thus power is equally distributed between industry, government, andcitizens for balanced decision-making concerning questions related to: whether the resource shouldbe tapped, how the resource will be extracted, and what economic and environmental policiesshould guide resource use.

The Total Petroleum System is used by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in itsNational Assessment Project; an Assessment unit is the fundamental geologic unit for theevaluation of undiscovered oil and gas resources. The TPS is defined as thegeographic boundary of a known or postulated oil and or gas accumulation, which includes thesource rocks or formations, as well as a geologic interpretation of the essential elements andprocesses within the system that account for its source, generation, migration, accumulation,and trapping. The province geologist was required to defend the geologic boundaries andgeologic history of each TPS in a formal petroleum system review meeting.

The TPS within province 067, the Appalachian Basin, are listed below by TPS number and name. Each snapshot contains a more thorough description of the TPS once you click on it. FracTracker contains datasets for more assessment units within each TPS. Check back for additional articles on separate assessment units and maps.

Click on the images below for a better view.

Conasauga-Rome/Conasauga TPS, Applachian Basin  (small)
506701 – Conasauga-
Sevier-Knox/Trenton Total Petroleum System  (small)
506702 – Sevier-Knox/
Carboniferous Coal Bed Gas Deposits (small)
506705 – Carboniferous Coal Bed
Gas Deposits
Pottsville Coal-Bed gas deposits, Appalachian Basin  (small)
506706 – Pottsville Coal-Bed
Gas – More Info
Utica Shale-Lower Paleozoic TPS, Applachian Basin (small)
506703 – Utica Shale-Lower
Devonian Shale, Middle/Upper Paleozoic, Total Petroleum System, Appalachian Basin (small)
506704 – Devonian Shale,
Middle/Upper Paleozoic

The Devonian Shale-Middle and Upper Paleozoic TPS (shown above) includes the Marcellus Shale as well as other assessment units:

  • Northwestern Ohio Shale (NWOS) AU
  • Greater Big Sandy (GBS) AU
  • Siltstone And Shale (DSS) AU
  • Marcellus Shale AU
  • Catskill Sandstones and Siltstones AU
  • Berea Sandstone AU

This TPS is well described here.

The snapshot below shows the geographical extent of all Total Petroleum Basins in the Appalachian Basin and more in-depth information on the Devonian Shales. Click on the various buttons in the gray toolbar below the image to zoom and inspect this snapshot in closer detail:

Upcoming Event: "Building Bridges – Healing Connections in a Broken World"

Hosted by The Episcopal Urban Caucus National Assembly
February 23-26, 2011
Doubletree Hotel – Pittsburgh, PA

Reverence ~ Justice ~ Beauty. Focusing on social justice, creation care, and peace, we will explore in plenary sessions, workshops, and site visits the way so many issues are inter-connected. “The cry of the earth and the cry of the poor are one.” An awareness of the links between environmental degradation and urban poverty will help us move forward in effective advocacy, strategy, and action for a more just and peaceful world, as agents of hope – motivated by faith – not fear. More Info | Registration Form | Agenda

Special DISCOUNT rate of $70 for college students and young adult leaders are available (though this does not include meals.) Limited number of such scholarships are available. Contact Carol Gonzalez to request the discount.

One of the Eight Workshops Available:

Friday, February 25 at 2:00 pm – Holy Water, Sacred Breath: Eco-Justice & Creation Care: “Do unto those downstream what you wish those upstream had done to you”

Dr. Conrad Dan Volz and Mark Dixon will present and host a conversation on issues around water (the new oil) and Marcellus Shale drilling, an urgent regional issue with links to national & global energy, economic, and environmental issues. The concerns surrounding gas and oil extraction and related water contamination are directly related to both intra- and inter-state political problems and open conflict around the world, making this a serious issue for faith groups interested in environmental justice and peace. Climate change, Transition Town, and other related topics will be included as we connect the dots in our search for sustainability.


Mark Dixon, Co-Founder of YERT, Your Environmental Road Trip. Mark left a career in Silicon Valley to visit all 50 states and film the weird, wild, and wonderful world of environmental sustainability throughout the country. Now working on a feature film based on that project, Mark is a Pittsburgh resident with an eye on the nation’s environmental movement. (www.yert.com)

Dr. Conrad Dan Volz is Director of the Center for Healthy Environments & Communities at the Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH), Univ. of Pittsburgh where Dr. Volz is also an Asst. Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at GSPH. With over thirty years experience in occupational-environmental health and having worked in twenty-fours countries, Dr. Volz’ research has primarily been focused on how industrial and municipal toxins and carcinogens move through the air, water, soil, and groundwater to reach people and how to block this movement. Serving on several advisory boards, the author of numerous publications, and a frequent presenter, Dr. Volz is a passionate advocate for the environment. (www.chec.pitt.edu)

Mike Schut, Environmental Affairs Officer at the Episcopal Church Center, will be Final Plenary Speaker on Saturday, February 26 – 9:00 am.

Eco-Justice & Green Faith

The Episcopal Church recently launched a collaboration with Green Faith’s Green Certification Program, a comprehensive, holistic two-year program to express creation-care throughout parish life and ministry, including an emphasis on environmental justice and community outreach. This interactive presentation will describe this exciting opportunity and briefly introduce the eco-justice work of The Episcopal Church.  More InfoRegistration FormAgenda

Oil, Natural Gas, and Natural Gas Fluids Drilling and Production in the Inland United States Waters of the Great Lakes?


By: C. D. Volz, DrPH, MPH
Director and Principal Investigator of the Center for Healthy Environments and Communities

Is it possible that there will, in the future, be offshore oil and gas platforms in the Great Lakes regions of the United States? The answer is that it has already occurred in Lake Michigan and certainly could be radically expanded with new advances in directional drilling and hydrofracturing of unconventional oil and gas reserves. Oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes was allowed by the State of Michigan but new drilling was subsequently banned by the state legislature. The issuance of new permits for new drilling in the Great Lakes was banned by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109- 58, §386). Canadian law though permits onshore oil and gas drilling under the Great Lakes and offshore gas drilling in the Great Lakes (see Congressional Research Service Document, Drilling in the Great Lakes: Background and Issues, 2006.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) completed an assessment of the undiscovered oil and gas potential of the U.S. portions of the Appalachian Basin and the Michigan Basin in 2002 and 2004, respectively The USGS has done an assessment of oil and gas reserves under US portions of the Great Lakes and reports mean levels of recoverable oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids at 311.71 million barrels of oil (MMBO), 5,228.71 billion cubic feet of gas (BCFG) (equal to 5.228 trillion cubic feet of gas), and 121.68 million barrels of natural gas liquids (M MBNGL), respectively. There have been 8-eight petroleum systems identified underlying United States portions of the Great Lakes. These are the;

  1. Precambrian Nonesuch TPS
  2. Ordovi¬cian Foster TPS
  3. [Ordovician] Utica-Lower Paleozoic TPS
  4. Ordovician to Devonian Composite TPS
  5. Silurian Niagara/Salina TPS
  6. Devonian Antrim TPS
  7. Devonian Shale-Middle and Upper Paleozoic TPS
  8. Pennsylvanian Saginaw TPS.

Each of the above systems is named for the source rock(s) of that system and there is only one source rock for each of the listed systems except the Ordovician to Devonian Composite TPS, which is a composite petroleum system. The Ordovician to Devonian Composite TPS is made up of one or a combination of the following source rocks; the Ordovician Collingwood Shale, Devonian Detroit River Group, and the Devonian Antrim Shale. For more information, see the complete USGS fact sheet, Undiscovered Oil and Gas Resources Underlying the U.S. Portions of the Great Lakes, 2005, Fact Sheet 2006–3049, April 2006.

Extent of the Utica Shale Formation. Click on the gray compass rose to hide the legend.

This FracTracker snapshot of the extent of the Utica Shale shows that it underlays the major extent of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario in both United States and Canada territorial waters.