For Immediate Release: Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2012
Contact: David Manthos, Outreach & Communications Director
Phone: 304-885-4581 (Office: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST) 240-385-6423 (Mobile: Until 9 p.m. EST)
Nationwide data on fracking chemical use finally available to public and researchers:
SkyTruth releases database created from 27,000 fracking chemical disclosures
Shepherdstown, WV – Today, SkyTruth is releasing a database created from more than 27,000 industry reports on the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”
The data were extracted from chemical disclosure reports submitted by industry to FracFocus.org, for gas and oil wells fracked between January 2011- August 2012. The SkyTruth Fracking Chemical Open Database is the first free resource enabling research and analysis of the chemicals used in fracking operations nationwide, and is available now for download from SkyTruth.org.
“SkyTruth unveils the toxic truths of a toxic industry,” said Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., president of Waterkeeper Alliance. “In the hands of community activists, SkyTruth’s database is a sharp, steely weapon to puncture the armor of sinister secrecy that protects America’s fracking cabal.”
Texas, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and five other states require disclosure through FracFocus to respond to public calls for transparency, but the FracFocus system does not allow data aggregation, analysis or sharing. Despite these critical shortcomings, the White House has identified FracFocus as a tool providing transparency.
With the Bureau of Land Management finalizing new rules for fracking that will apply to millions of acres of public land, real transparency is a matter of national interest to ensure the health of community members and the environment. SkyTruth hopes this data release will promote discussion about effective disclosure and credible research on this nationally significant issue.
“With this information, SkyTruth provides critical oversight of an industry that has a history of secrecy and of fighting tooth and nail to avoid public disclosure of the toxic chemicals it uses,” said Marc Yaggi, executive director of Waterkeeper Alliance.
“The intelligible disclosure of industry information and data through this SkyTruth action will make the task of research on the effects of fracking much easier,” said Dr. Tony Ingraffea, professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University. “This large and ever-expanding dataset is invaluable for cross-referencing with other datasets such as health and environmental quality. ”
Those interested in this resource are encouraged to contact SkyTruth for more information on the data and to discuss research potential. SkyTruth is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation based in Shepherdstown, West Virginia using remote-sensing and digital mapping technologies to investigate and illustrate a broad range of environmental issues and incidents.
SkyTruth President, CTO and Communications Director will be available for interview or comment.
Download online at: http://skytruth.org/fracking-chemical-database
About Sharon Wilson
Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.
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Andy Mechling says
So I went there, and looked around.
Sky Truth has compiled these enormous databases based on industry reports. Personally, I didn’t find anything user-friendly about this at all. I know they worked hard on this; but it seems like a big confusing mess. Nothing is indexed at all that I can tell.
Clearly these guys are providing a valuable service just by compiling all these reports – and then making this available, but in this form, I’m not sure how really usable any of this information will be.
But here’s my real gripe. Sky Truth is posting all this information as though it were accurate. I see no discussion to the contrary. I believe this is potentially quite problematic on many levels. Haven’t we established that these reports are bunk? Right here on this blog? Doesn’t it seem as though Sky Truth is lending legitimacy to some extremely dubious industry supplied information?
Let me ask it this way: “Is carbon disulfide listed as a component of any of the frack fluids on the Sky Truth site?” . . . . and; “If not, why not?”
We know that a US House committee named 750 chemicals used in the frack fluids – without coming up with CS2 also, and this is getting old.
Among those 750, which chemical represents a greater threat to human health and well-being? Which has been more often detected near oil and gas activities? Which is more explosive? Which is more dense relative to air?
Sky Truth does great work, and they have been doing it for some time, and the imagery often speaks for itself. I appreciate what they do.
In this case, however, I would be more impressed if these guys would help us get to the Truth – rather then go along with industry attempts to gloss over it completely.
I haven’t looked at it yet but I think the objective was to make what’s there searchable. Each well site averages 6 or 7 secret chemicals that we don’t get to know. That’s probably where the Carbon disulfide is hidden.
Andy Mechling says
In journalism – and this is journalism in my view –
If you repeat a lie; you own the lie. It’s yours now.
Where is the disclaimer from Sky Truth? Did I miss it?
These guys are disseminating information that they know to be bad; and that is no good. I think you need to be careful about how you present this type of blatant DISinformation here on the Bluedaze blog.
It’s not as if these chemicals and quantities being posted via the frac focus program are in any way verifiable, or have been subject to any type of regulatory scrutiny. These companies are largely exempt from reporting requirements of course, and these accounts are released voluntarily, and are universally incomplete. This is propaganda, and I believe it is dangerous propaganda.
Why would Sky Truth or Bluedaze want to legitimize or disseminate it at all? I don’t get it.
If anybody out there Actually takes these disclosures seriously; and uses these for the basis of public-health decision making, they do so very much at their own risk – and at the risk of whatever public is involved.
That data is no damn good. The most highly toxic components are not disclosed. This does not represent some “gray area” of journalistic ethics in my view,
This one’s in black-and-white.
I don’t know of anyone, except industry, who claims Frac Focus is full disclosure. But, they are listing some of the chemicals they use and they’re damn bad ones. So we are getting some limited information from it.
Khepry Quixote says
OK, y’all, calm down and listen to someone that routinely tries to obtain fracking data from various sites and can personally testify as to how difficult it has become to do so. What SkyTruth.org has done is noble work…period. That “nothing is indexed” is not important as those of us that can do database work or import it into an Apache Solr/Lucene index are not vexed by this. THAT THE DATA IS NOW AVAILABLE is the most important take-away from SkyTruth.org’s efforts.
Why, you might ask?
1) I can now take a “scraping” program and “scrape” FracFocus.org’s web screens and have a data set that I can compare my “scrapings” against to make sure that I’m “scraping” correctly.
2) The data can now be imported into a variety of databases (e.g. MySQL, PostgreSQL/PostGIS) or “BigData” indices (e.g. Apache Solr/Lucene, Apache Hadoop) for subsequent analysis.
3) For those less savvy in the ways of IT, the data can now be imported into a Microsoft Excel workbook and be analyzed with PivotTables and such.
4) Statistical programs, such as SAS or R, can now be applied against the data for whatever analysis is desired.
Most importantly, the data can now be compared against similar data at the state level to see how much is being reported, how accurately it is being reported, and whether the reporting volume and/or accuracy is improving or not. It is this last point that is the most important, for the veracity (or lack thereof) of the self-reporting will provide ammunition to the “peasants” with which to seek redress from their “sovereign”.
No data of any kind and its just one “peasants” opinion against the “guilds” business interest. And when it comes to “guilds” money, it takes a lot of facts to sway the “sovereign’s” mind.
As I’m in between programming gigs right now, give me a little time to push this data to an Amazon micro-instance or two in the cloud and I’ll get back with y’all on sample user interfaces to the data.
Andy Mechling says
Kephry; the ammunition you seek is the truth.
The Frac Focus sites do not offer this. They offer the opposite. No amount of tabulation or pivoting will ever change this. Any amount of credibility you attach to these figures will be too much.
All of us thirst for the truth. We all thirst for ANY information we can get in this barren landscape, but you can’t drink water from this well. It simply can’t be trusted, and unfortunately, we need to move on now.
I look forward to a day when the insurgency can put your profound database wizardry to beneficial use. Streaming real-time emissions data for multiple compounds to a web interface that is intuitive and flexible and with searchable archives might present substantial challenges to any programmer.
But the Queen demands it. And you will need to make it so.
The front end just requires dollars. And 110v
Khepry Quixote says
I understand your frustration, but the important part is that the analytical programs and user interfaces begin to appear for review and critique by third parties. Any data, however inaccurate, is helpful for putting together the basics of these extract-transform-load (ETL) programs as well as the analyses of said data that will follow. Once the aforementioned programs/analyses are written, then when more accurate data becomes available it is only necessary to map its columns to the tables and indices already in place and launch the programs and analyses again.
As the military says: Practice to fight, fight as practiced.
Paul Woods says
Thanks for the support Khepry. You are right that our intention with this release was simply to make the data available, at no cost, to anyone that wants to use it. In fact, our primary quality assurance concern was to make sure that our database perfectly reproduces the data published by FracFocus, warts and all. Now that we have taken this first step, hundreds of independent researchers can compare what FracFocus publishes with what the states say is happening and what people living near these sites know is actually happening.
As for the TRUTH, we are well aware that merely re-publishing information does not make any difference in the truthfulness of it, but we do believe very strongly that in a complex, pluralistic society like ours, TRANSPARENCY is a necessary condition for those that seek the truth, and so this release helps those truth seekers to move one step closer to their goal.
Andy Meching says
Paul, I appreciate your efforts.
I appreciate the conversation, and your input here on this blog; but please correct me if I’m wrong:
Your organization just got through posting thousands of pages of chemical disclosure documents released by industry, all of which are known to be highly dubious in nature . . . yet you fail to include any clear disclaimer language or warnings to this effect.
I found no disclaimer language at all on your site. I think it should be BIG and BOLD and CLEAR, and maybe in RED and included on every page. The data is bogus.
I am one of those researchers who has spent hundreds of hours going through these very disclosures. I am intimately familiar with many of these documents. I remain highly skeptical as to the overall value or utility of any of this industry- provided propaganda -regardless of who posts it or why.
The data is BUNK. It’s clearly bunk and that’s a shame; but we need to move on. There is plenty of good science that needs doing. Please focus your attention there. Thank you.
Andy Meching says
Yes. Kephry, I agree with you.
Information infrastructure is what we need to focus on; and it has to start somewhere. I am still not convinced that staying within the industry-provided framework will prove beneficial.
I appreciate your tenacity and ferocity. You want to wield your new sword and slay the wrongdoers. . . .that shiny new sword that you captured from the enemy. This is valiant and noble.
But wait; did you really capture that weapon? Or was it custom forged for you by the very forces you oppose? Is this really what you think it is?
I hope that you will not be surprised and disappointed at how it performs for you on the field of battle.
Friends don’t let friends get ambushed and slaughtered.
Andy above, your blogging is interesting and valuable to some extent. BUT, it seem that you are saying (regarding referenced data) that “If I didn’t do the work, it’s of no worth”. That trechnique is occasionally used in the technical world to try to impress others that you know more than you actually do know.
Andy Mechling says
That industry provided data is bogus. There is no science to question. Frac Focus is propaganda and nothing more. I thought we had pretty much established this.
Bad data gets people hurt. To regurgitate it is both dangerous and unethical in my view. But hey, go ahead. Drink it up if you want. You can’t say you were not warned.
Bring some science if you want to impress me, or at least attach your name when you choose to insult someone who is trying to make a difference.
If I am not impressed with your science, I will let you know. That’s what I’m doing here. I don’t know about you; Anonymous.