Information gathered from six separate natural gas development datasets -- all currently available on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) website -- have been formatted into a single geodatabase file by the Center for Biodiversity and Ecosystems (CBE) at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, which plans to make the information available through an interactive online map by the end of the year.
"These data provide a powerful new tool for our researchers, other scientists and eventually the public to see where development is happening and then to assess and minimize impact on roadways, wildlife and people," said CBE director John Wenzel. "Each company only has good records of its own activities, so even the industry itself doesn't have accurate records of the total scope of development. We provide that."
The comprehensive geographic information systems (GIS)-based database "was created in direct response to a need voiced by local governments, environmental and economic researchers and urban planners looking for a single tool to link isolated datasets" from the DEP, CBE said. It compares essential data about well activity in the state and "could serve as a critical resource in future studies pertaining to natural gas development and its possible effects on a seemingly endless number of study areas, including water quality, air quality, the local economy, public health, social factors and more."
By converting all of the DEP information for each well into a GIS format, the CBE said it has generated a holistic representation of activity in any given region of the state.
The dataset is currently formatted as a geodatabase file that is "too cumbersome for general use," according to CBE. "Once launched, the new website will provide the public with the same information already provided to scientists, researchers and industry professionals, but in an easy-to-use interactive map format," they said.