22.4.11

More sources on natural gas drilling

We had an extended call today with Patrick Walker of Factoryville, Pennsylvania. He is something of an activist on Marcellus Shale gas development who seems quite well informed on the breadth of shale issues. Mike asked him what sources he checks to stay on top of the issue. Among them were the Susquehanna County Natural Gas Forum, Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, FracTracker, and ProPublica. In previous shows and posts, we have had material from Responsible Drilling Alliance, Frack Country Blues (see image at right), Susquehanna River Sentinel, un-naturalgas.org, and Voices of Central Pennsylvania.

Up to this point we have not attended to the pro-gas development outlets or those that claim to be unbiased in some way. There are solid reasons for this: namely that we think that Pennsylvania's people and the water, land, air, and wildlife they share their livelihoods with are being abused by big gas and government collusion. At Sustainability Now, we do not make any claim at being balanced on an issue that we believe is so imbalanced against the common good in our commonwealth.

That said, we do think that there are a lot of sources out there that people should be aware of. At the very least, you can come to understand the sweep of the industry's positions.

Here are several sites that we recommend:
Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC)
American Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA)
Marcellus Shale Coalition
American Clean Skies Foundation
Penn State's Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research (MCOR)
These all contain their own rhetorical styles and their own political, economic, or educational goals. The first four all favor natural gas development but for different reasons. IOGCC, ANGA, and the Marcellus Shale Coalition are clearly organizations that represent the interests of the gas industry for public and political purposes. However, the American Clean Skies Foundation focuses more on natural gas's possibility as a "pairing" or "bridge" fuel to more renewable energy sources. They cite that it burns cleaner than coal and oil (1/2 the CO2 emissions from burned gas compared to coal). In a sense, they are making the greenest argument in that group. The Penn State MCOR stands apart some because it is housed at a university. However, they say they "We are committed to expanding research capabilities on technical aspects of developing this resource and to providing science-based programming while protecting the Commonwealth's water resources, forests and transportation infrastructure."

Bucknell University's Marcellus Shale Initiative Publications Database

This newly constructed database allows you to view some peer-reviewed articles and policy work. They say that their mission is to "[s]upport objective research, provide a primarily print-based publications database, and critically evaluate information related to the Marcellus Shale natural gas play." The critical evaluation in this piece is what separates it from the others. As far as I have been able to tell, this is the least overtly political of all of the resources available. That is not to say that the people who are at the helm of this initiative at Bucknell are non-partisan. Like FracTracker which helps people access information using a geographic information system approach, this site enables access to quality research and documents they might no otherwise find. It is democratic empowerment simply through availability.

Like any complex and contentious issue, Marcellus Shale development certainly does not lack information or input. If you peruse some of the blogs above, you will find links to other blogs on this issue and the take of people from Tioga to Washington Counties. Most of the organizations listed here have good links to other sources. It is a rabbit hole. It can be daunting to know where to look. Hopefully, the sources in this entry can get you started.

If there are any others you'd like to alert readers and listeners too, please post them in the comments. The more the merrier.

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