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TEX launches new cohort of projects on Hydraulic Fracturing at GeoPolicy Connect

Category: Uncategorized

By Natasha Udu-gama

Our recent Thriving Earth Exchange (TEX) project launch workshop opened on a lovely day in Pittsburgh on Friday, October 6th. The event followed AGU’s GeoPolicy Connect, a solutions-focused initiative designed to foster relationships between different types of stakeholders, help communities, and advance science for policy and society. The topic of this year’s GeoPolicy Connect was unconventional oil and gas development, which includes hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking.” The goal of GeoPolicy Connect is to create a space for discussion that can break down barriers between the science, policy and private and public sectors in the future.

At the inaugural 2016 GeoPolicy Connect in Ft. Collins, Colorado, participants recommended that Thriving Earth Exchange become involved in the 2017 event because TEX is about creating community solutions by bringing scientists and community leaders together. So, ahead of this year’s meeting the TEX team assembled four communities from Ohio and Pennsylvania that have been significantly impacted by hydraulic fracturing.

The communities include Athens and Belmont Counties and Seneca Lake and Wills Creek Reservoir, all in Ohio; and Robinson and Smith Township, in Pennsylvania. Before the workshop, we reached out to make sure that each community had specific issues that could benefit from collaborations with Earth and space scientists.

During the one-day launch workshop, TEX staff facilitated a discussion among community representatives and scientists focused on identifying issues and needs that could feasibly be addressed or advanced through collaborative science projects. The communities focused on adverse effects of unconventional oil and gas development on the health of their residents. There was clearly an air of urgency among the community leaders present. The scientists in the room were experts in key areas related to this field and seemed to have a good grasp of the need.

During the session, each of the breakout groups was animated, with community leaders avidly recounting their communities’ experiences with negative impacts associated with hydraulic fracturing. Scientists engaged authentically and sympathetically with them to formulate new TEX projects. Strong facilitators for each breakout group helped the groups stay on task. 

By the end of the day, we produced four feasible and impactful TEX community science projects around air quality, water quality and radiation cumulative impacts. These four projects now form a new project cohort on unconventional oil and gas development within the Thriving Earth Exchange. Projects will launch in 2018 when finalized.

 

 

Sarah Wilkins subscriber

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