Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Website To Track All Things Marcellus

The Center for Healthy Environments and Communities (CHEC) at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health has launched a new web page that it hopes will help everyone learn more about the impacts on Marcellus Shale drilling in PA. The site, Fracktracker.org, will include a blog where CHEC director Dan Volz says “snapshots” of what is happening in the Shale play will be posted for people that do not want to dig into the data on their own. For those who are more adventurous, the site also holds a web-based data tool developed by Pittsburgh-based Rhiza labs that will allow users to layer data sets and then produce a visualization of the information. Volz says they are in the process of holding a series of meetings aimed at getting government and nonprofit entities to “buy in” to the process. Volz says it is clear groups like the Department of Environmental Protection and the Fish and Boat Commission have data that should be posted but he says there are other departments such as the DEP, the Game Commission and State Police that can all be part of the picture. Several data sets are already loaded onto the site including a list of every Marcellus Shale drilling permit issued in the state and a list of gas extraction incident records. The goal is to not only look at the environmental impacts of the drilling and its associated activities but to also look at the community and public health impacts the drilling has on Pennsylvania. Volz hopes users will begin posting their own data and stories to site. The CHEC has a grant to monitor the tracker to make sure all of the information posted is sound.

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