SkyTruth.org and FracTracker.org have teamed up to build the most comprehensive – and functional – database of fracking chemicals on the planet. The new SkyTruth Fracking Chemical Database is a powerful research tool, enhanced by FracTracker‘s stellar mapping technology. Been looking for something a little more practical than the smattering of 27,000 pdfs found on FracFocus.org, the gas industry’s chemicals registry of choice? Look no further.
“Objectively, that is a large step forward in transparency, as this information was not available before,” says FracTracker about FracFocus’ voluntary hydraulic fracturing chemicals registry website. “But what if your questions about the industry are broader? You may want to know, for example, if some operators are putting diesel fuel into the hydraulic fracturing fluid, or whether some anti-bacterial agents are more prominent in certain geographies than others. You might want to do a comparison on which companies claim data to be proprietary, relative to the industry as a whole, or whether there is any correlation between particularly noxious chemical additives and well production. To answer questions like these, you just need a summary of the data that FracFocus already offers. But unfortunately, FracFocus will not provide this aggregated data.”
“Now it is possible for people other than industry insiders to learn about variables not provided by the various states, including depth of target formation, fracturing dates, amounts of water used. There is also a separate dataset including all listed chemicals at each well, which comes in at over 800,000 records for the 21 months of the report.”
A ‘Heckuva’ Lot of Work
SkyTruth released the database to the public today along with a press release, and their team will continue to update it:
“These data (which took a heckuva lot of work for us to compile) are being made freely available to the public for research and analysis. We’re doing this in the hope that this information will facilitate credible research on this nationally significant issue, and will promote discussion about effective public disclosure.”
Mining and aggregating the data was no mean feat. SkyTruth worked closely with those other pioneers of public transparency, FracTracker.org, who posted a gracious acknowledgement of all the teams whose efforts were involved:
“At FracTracker, we’d like to extend our gratitude to both FracFocus for collecting the data and making it public, and to SkyTruth, for aggregating it and making it more usable. In our view, both of these steps are critical for true data transparency. This transparency, in turn, is indispensable for making an enhanced understanding of the oil and gas industry possible.”
All For Nothin?
It’s hard to imagine anyone would aggregate this much data only to give it away. “We’re doing this in the hope that this information will facilitate credible research on this nationally significant issue, and will promote discussion about effective public disclosure,” states SkyTruth.”We think the data must be much more accessible, shareable, and useable for the public to be adequately informed about the types and amounts of chemicals used in fracking operations.”
Given just a few examples of the information they uncovered, I’m sure glad they do:
- Using this dataset we calculated the volume of water used for fracking across the United States, and compared that to the amount flowing over Niagara Falls and the area covered by Central Park.
- We looked at the ongoing, unpermitted use of diesel fuels in fracking, apparently in violation of the Safe Drinking Water act.
- Most recently, we examined disclosure rates in West Virginia and concluded that state and industry data were so incomplete that the disclosure of chemicals used in fracking ranged from only 0% to 31.6%.
Read more: Fracking Chemical Disclosure Database Provides New Tool In Fight Against Fracking, EcoWatch.org
SkyTruth is a whiz-bang non-profit who uses remote sensing and digital mapping technologies to combine environmental protection with environmental awareness. Their motto: “As soon as WE know – YOU know.” SkyTruth‘s goal is “to motivate and empower new constituencies for environmental protection… SkyTruth envisions a world where all people can see and understand the environmental consequences of human activity everywhere on the earth, and are motivated to take action to protect the environment.” SkyTruth provides a valuable Alert System, “a free service open to the public that provides daily updates of environmentally significant incidents by geographical area. You can browse the most recent incident reports on a map or in Google Earth, and you can also subscribe to a personalized feed of incident reports via RSS or email.”
“The FracTracker Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the public’s understanding of the impacts of the global shale gas industry by collecting, interpreting, and sharing data and visualizations through our website, FracTracker.org. We partner with citizens, organizations and institutions – allied in a quest for objective, helpful information – to perpetuate awareness and support actions that protect public health, the environment, and socioeconomic well-being.“