New Data.FracTracker Feature: Collecting Data with Forms

Data.FracTracker users are now able to create a form (either as a link or an embed into another page) where people can enter new records into an editable dataset. This has applications for those of you who brave the elements collecting data in the field.

We at CHEC are very excited about this new, incredibly important feature and would like to thank Rhiza Labs for developing it. To learn more about how to use a form to enter data into Data.FracTracker click here, or press the “DataTool” button at the top of this page to try it out yourself.

Cornell study assessed climate change impact of natural gas drilling


This page has been archived. It is provided here for historical purposes.

We at the Center for Healthy Environments and Communities would like to congratulate and recognize the incredible efforts of our colleagues at Cornell University for their recent research study published in Climate Change Letters, entitled “Methane and the greenhouse-gas footprint of natural gas from shale formations.” Led by Dr. Robert Howarth, the study sought to determine the effect that natural gas drilling in shale formations has on the atmosphere over a 20-year period.*

Methane gas, the major component of natural gas, has been promoted by some entities as a greener energy alternative than the use of coal because it burns cleaner. Results of this recent Cornell study, however, indicate that the methane emissions that result from the natural gas industry may result in a greater greenhouse gas footprint than other forms of energy extraction.  This is partially due to the fact that methane is a very potent greenhouse gas.

From a researcher’s perspective, accurate and up-to-date data regarding the amount of methane gas that escapes during the life cycle of natural gas drilling is difficult to access – if it exists at all. To better-understand how natural gas drilling in shale formations will affect public health and the environment, especially as this industry develops, we must continue to conduct peer-reviewed research like the most recent Cornell study. Full Report

* A criticism of this study has been the shorter, 20-year time span they used to analyze the data. This approach was taken because methane does not stay in the atmosphere as long as other greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. 

The Citizen Surveillance Project and Marcellus Shale Development

By Charles Christen, DrPH, MEd – Director of Operations, Center for Healthy Environments and Communities, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

In August and November of last year, we reported on the start up of the Citizen Surveillance Project targeting surveillance and water monitoring of the industry developing the Marcellus Shale deposit for natural gas. I would like to update you on the progress of this project.

Currently this is a two phase project beginning with attendance at a Visual Assessment training followed by an optional Water Monitoring training. Since the start up of this project three visual assessment trainings have been held: Connellsville, Washington and Greensburg, PA as well as a water monitoring training.

To aid in the visual assessment training, a manual has been developed by the partners forming the core of the Citizen Surveillance project. The manual uses information from the Society of Petroleum Engineers in order to provide a detailed description of the well pad selection, drilling procedures, fracturing and well completion. There are also detailed descriptions of water and air related issues and how to perform surveillance with the senses of sight, smell, sound and touch. A section of the manual is also devoted to safety issues when performing surveillance on industry operations. The manual concludes with instructions for a full visual assessment of an industry site and surrounding area.

The project started as a pilot in the fall of 2009 in Fayette County, with the intention of expanding the project into all areas where Marcellus Shale gas industry develops. This project was developed out of the realization that as the number of wells grew the necessary enforcement officials from the PA Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) to provide oversight on the industry would be lacking. The realization of the need for additional “boots” on ground developed into a project to provide education and empowerment to individuals living in and around these gas industry sites. The content for training citizens in surveillance of the industry is provided by the manual for the Visual Assessment training. View the Visual Assessment Manual. You may print and use this manual freely.

If you would like to participate in visual assessment training or water monitoring training you can contact Veronica Coptis, project coordinator for the Citizen Stewardship project. Her contact information is (724) 455-4200 extension 4# and

Project Partners