Why the Map was created
The Oil & Gas Threat Map shows that oil and gas air pollution isn’t someone else’s problem, it’s everyone’s problem.
Until very recently there were no limits on oil and gas methane pollution. So it’s no surprise that the oil and gas industry is the United States’ largest methane polluter.
What might be a surprise: along with methane, oil and gas extraction often releases other air pollution that can harm health, like benzene – a known carcinogen.
The Map was created to make aware the public and decisionmakers that this type of air pollution is a ubiquitous health threat that should be addressed with strong government standards. And that eliminating existing methane standards comes at the expense of the health and air that governments are obliged to protect.
What the Map shows
The Oil & Gas Threat Maps show health impacts from oil and gas air pollution in three different ways:
- On individual state maps, it plots the location of all active oil & gas wells in the United States (except North Carolina and Idaho), then counts the people, schools, and hospitals that live within ½ mile of these facilities.
- On national, state-by-state, and county-by-county levels it indicates the contribution of oil and gas air pollution to elevated ozone smog levels, and consequent asthma and other respiratory impacts.
- Using EPA data & models, it shows which counties have health risks because of oil & gas toxic air pollution.
The Map reminds us that the threat, as well as the people at risk, are very real by:
- Within each individual state, allows you to search for your home or school to find out if you’re at elevated risk for exposure to this pollution.
- Showing infrared videos of normally invisible pollution from oil and gas operations.
- Showing interviews with people impacted by this pollution.
How the Map was created
The Oil & Gas Threat Map was created with —
- Publicly available Census, Department of Education, oil & gas facility, and other data
- Peer-reviewed science to determine that ½ mile is a conservative distance within which oil and gas air pollution can be detected such that residents should be concerned
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Air Toxics Assessment data to determine county-by-county averages of the increased average cancer and respiratory health risk attributable specifically to toxic oil and gas air pollution
- More than 300 infrared videos that make visible the normally invisible oil and gas air pollution
- More than 70 video interviews with residents negatively impacted by oil and gas facilities
Who created the Map
Three organizations worked together —
- Earthworks, a national environmental group dedicated to protect communities and the environment from the negative impacts of resource extraction;
- Clean Air Task Force, which works to help safeguard against the worst impacts of climate change by catalyzing the rapid global development and deployment of low carbon energy and other climate-protecting technologies through research and analysis, public advocacy leadership, and partnership with the private sector; and
- FracTracker Alliance, which studies, maps, and communicates the risks of oil and gas development to protect our planet and support the renewable energy transformation.
Earthworks, Clean Air Task Force, and FracTracker Alliance did the research and provided data that FracTracker Alliance used to build the Oil & Gas Threat Map.