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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mind the Fracking Data Gap

"A new University of Texas-Austin analysis of natural gas drilling and fracking in urban areas near Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, not only criticizes state and federal regulatory agencies for dismissing public concern about the health and environmental impacts of shale oil and gas development, but illuminates the large gap in understanding about what shale oil and gas production mean for public health and the environment in Texas and beyond. Shale oil and gas production, which is expanding rapidly across much of the central U.S., is likely to be a driver of climate change, not only because burning petroleum products produced there emits vast amounts of carbon dioxide, but because natural gas production and distribution systems are likely to leak methane, a gas about 35 times more potent than carbon as a greenhouse gas.
                                              An oil and gas field near Odessa, Texas.

But the gap in scientists' understanding of what shale oil and gas development means for the environment and human health is significant, said Susan Brantley, a Pennsylvania State University biogeochemist studying the impacts of shale gas development in Pennsylvania. Brantley, unaffiliated with the UT-Austin study, is among the scientists who have spoken out about the fracking data gap. "A few health studies have been initiated, but data are few and far between that allow scientists to interpret potential impacts," Brantley said via email. "In addition, the lack of federal oversight on a lot of activity which is controlled by the states makes for difficulties for scientists to evaluate or even get hold of needed data. In Pennsylvania, it is even difficult to determine exactly where spills have occurred, let alone the volume of the spill, the timing or the chemicals that were spilled."

http://www.velj.org/uploads/1/2/7/0/12706894/2._rawlins_-_barnett_shale.pdf
http://www.climatecentral.org/news/study-highlights-lack-of-fracking-research-data-17251