Mobile App Helps Improve Transparency of Unconventional Drilling

FracTracker’s free mobile app gives users the power 
to share the impact of fracking

As New York State’s decision to ban high volume hydraulic fracturing continues the conversation on the dangers of fracking to the environment, the public is actively moving forward in recording and sharing the effects of drilling throughout the United States.

The FracTracker Alliance, a nonprofit organization that aims to increase transparency of, and access to, data and information relating to unconventional oil and natural gas development, has created a free mobile app to accomplish just that. The FracTracker app is designed to give users the ability to “Share a Shot,” or submit photos of oil and gas production, “Report an Issue,” regarding near-by drilling and “Check the Map,” to view an interactive interface of oil and gas wells drilled in your area.

According to FracTracker’s “Pennsylvania Shale Viewer” map, there have been 1,365 wells drilled in 2014, all of which can be seen on the app. The map has several data layers where you can click and see the sites that have received violations such as “the failure to contain a pollutional substance in a lined pit or tank” and “potential pollution to waters of commonwealth” as well as the location of drilled unconventional wells and areas that were approved for permits.

“FracTracker’s app contributes to the collective understanding of oil and gas impacts and provides a new opportunity for public engagement,” says Brook Lenker, Executive Director of the FracTracker Alliance. “We hope that our mobile app will revolutionize how people share oil and gas information.”

This map, along with others, such as the “The PA Beer and Unconventional Drilling Map” that shows drilled and permitted wells and their proximity to breweries and brewpubs throughout Pennsylvania, can be seen and shared with the FracTracker app with just a few swipes on your smartphone.

The FracTracker app is available for iPhones and Androids and can be downloaded at


New York State Bans Fracking

Gov. Cuomo cites health risks; Pa. governor-elect opposes ban

A gas well in Susquehanna County, PA. | Photos courtesy Delaware Riverkeeper Network

In a major win for fracking opponents, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced that the state would ban high volume hydraulic fracturing, citing health risk concerns and the lack of studies that show it can be done safely, the New York Times reported. Approximately 40 percent of the state sits over the Marcellus Shale natural gas formation, Grist reports.

The highly controversial method of extracting natural gas, or fracking as it's more commonly known, was often brought up as a source of economic revival for communities along New York's border with Pennsylvania, the Times reported. Despite Cuomo's dedication to solve the financial woes of those communities, the New York governor conceded there were too many issues involved to allow it.

A large fracking water impoundment in Susquehanna County.

“I’ve never had anyone say to me, ‘I believe fracking is great,’ ” he told the Times. “Not a single person in those communities. What I get is, ‘I have no alternative but fracking.’ ”

Many in bordering Pennsylvania praised Cuomo's move, including Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper. 

“Governor Cuomo has made the right decision for the right reasons—he required technical analysis and comprehensive inquiry from his Administration’s qualified experts; he gave his agencies the arm’s length they needed from the push and pull of politics; and he allowed science to inform the policy decisions that were needed," van Rossum says. "We applaud and thank Governor Cuomo and New York for applying caution and clear-headed reason in reaching this historic decision. This will surely lead the way for other states, especially Pennsylvania, where a new Governor will be taking the helm and making policy decisions regarding the ravaging impacts of fracking and in the Delaware River Watershed, where a tentative drilling moratorium is in place."

However, Pennsylvania governor-elect Tom Wolf stated he disagrees with Cuomo's administration decision and reaffirmed his stance that the state won't be following New York's lead, PoliticsPA reported:

When asked by PoliticsPA if he supports the actions of Gov. Cuomo, Wolf’s camp was clear.

“Governor-elect Wolf opposes a ban, and he will work hard to make sure the process is safe,” responded Jeffrey Sheridan, Press Secretary for Wolf’s transition team.

“Pennsylvania’s natural resources should help the commonwealth become an energy leader, including renewable energy and energy efficiency, as well as a magnet for investment and job creation,” he continued. “Governor-elect Wolf’s priority is to ensure that Pennsylvania is an energy leader with all Pennsylvanians sharing in the prosperity."

A fracking pit in Washington county, Pennsylvania.

Schuylkill Center to Host Green Town Meeting This Week

Fracking (and how to tax it) has been a major issue in the Pennsylvania governor's race between incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett and his challenger, Tom Wolf, but what about all the other environmental problems you care about: Clean water? Bicycling infrastructure? Alternative energy?

From 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 9, the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education is hosting a Green Town Hall Meeting with panelists including Michael Krancer, Governor Corbett’s first DEP chief, environmental attorney Robert Fox; the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia’s Sarah Clark Stuart; and Jamie Gauthier, executive director of the Sustainable Business Network of Philadelphia.

“Understanding the relationship between the environment and politics is as important as understand the interactions of water, soil, and plant life," says Mike Weilbacher, executive director of the Schuylkill Center. "The Green Town Meeting fits into our work to encourage environmental stewardship."
And if the the fate of our Commonwealth's air, land, and water isn't enough to bring you out, there will be Yards beer too. 
Tickets are free, but please RSVP.


Stand up against fracking and Act 13 TODAY at LOVE Park

Image via enviropoliticsblog.blogspot.comStop by LOVE Park this afternoon to stand up for the environment.

Today at 4:30 p.m. Food & Water Watch, Protecting Our Waters, Delaware Riverkeeper Network and other groups will be speaking out against Act 13—the pro-Marcellus Shale gas drilling law passed by Governor Tom Corbett last February. Act 13 takes away municipal zoning authority as related to the drilling and includes a gag order requiring physicians to not disclose proprietary fracking chemicals except for medical treatment of an individual.  

The groups say Act 13 amounts to “giving away to fracking corporations our fundamental right to protect our communities,” and agree that “fracking hurts water, air, farms, health and climate.”

Read here for more on Act 13. To learn more about fracking, you can check out our previous blog post on the topic. LOVE Park, 1599 John F. Kennedy Blvd.

Fracking Lesson: Temple brings arts and sciences symposium on natural gas drilling to Philly

Fracking—the controversial natural gas drilling technique is constantly in Philadelphia news. But what do you really know about the issue? In an effort to bring some clarity to what fracking is and how it’s affecting Pennsylvania, Temple Gallery, in conjunction with the Center for Natural Resources Development and Protection is holding a day-long conference today, November 4.

The Marcellus Shale Symposium: Between Arts and Sciences is an opportunity to hear all sides of the complicated issue. Interact with scientists, artists and historians throughout the day as they talk about the production, utilization and management of the natural resource.

Speakers will include Brian Black, who will discuss Pennsylvania’s more than 200 years of mining policies and practices. And Jennie Shanker a potter whose work is on display at the Temple Gallery uses Pennsylvania shale and clay to bring an artist’s perspective to the issue.

The Marcellus Shale Symposium: Between Arts and Science is the first of many programs being offered by Temple Gallery that deal with local and international issues. For more information and to see the list of speakers, visit here.

The Marcellus Shale Symposium: Between Arts and Science
Friday, November 4, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., 2001 North 13th St.

Cruisin' for a Brewsin': Pennsylvania’s booming craft beer industry is built on the state’s fresh, mineral-rich water. That resource is in jeopardy.

Until Prohibition, Philadelphia was known far and wide as one of the biggest beer-producing cities in America. After repeal… well, you probably know the rest. Smaller, independent breweries folded by the dozen, while mega-breweries like Anheuser-Busch and Miller flourished, delivering quantity over quality.

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Stepping on the Gas: West Philly dynamo/water activist Iris Marie Bloom leads the local charge against environmentally irresponsible drilling.

Iris Marie Bloom is busy. Seriously busy. The night before we meet near her West Philadelphia home, she was in Warminster, screening a documentary and organizing residents. Three days before, she was at a rally in Harrisburg. As we talk, she occasionally checks the time; she has another interview that morning, and after that, her weekly radio show.

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