What publicly available databases provide reliable information about shale gas development?

FracTracker Alliance
FracTracker, the website of Fractracker Alliance, is an invaluable data source for those who want to learn more about shale gas wells in Pennsylvania. The website is available at www.fractracker.org and features a tool named the PA Shale Viewer which displays well data from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) on an easy-to-use map interface. Users can navigate the PA Shale Viewer to identify wells, permits, and violations. The website is updated regularly to ensure that the information is current. As noted, the data displayed in the PA Shale Viewer is drawn from the PA DEP website, where the data is not displayed collectively but is presented on several different screens which can be accessed only if the user first has some identifying information about a well, e.g. a well permit number or producer name/number.

How many new businesses, including those directly engaged in shale gas development, opened in my county/region?

The U.S. Census Bureau tracks the number of business establishments, employment levels, and payroll by zip code. While there is a lag in the data made available to the public, much of the information is useful to gauge economic changes, such as identifying the number of new businesses and the size of businesses in a locale. To view this information, visit the County Business Pattern website and type in the zip code you would like to view. For data pertaining to shale gas development specifically, scroll down to Industry Code 21 and click ‘Detail’. There you will find information about establishments directly engaged in shale gas development.

What are the employment/unemployment figures for my municipality/county/region?

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) collects data pertaining to employment at the national, state, and county levels. You can monitor state and county unemployment rates by visiting the BLS website. Use the drop down menus to select the year and month you are interested in. Use the tabs to toggle between the seasonally adjusted, not seasonally adjusted, and county unemployment rates on record.

How much in Act 13 impact fees has my community received?

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission was charged with the responsibility for administering the impact fee program established under the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act of 2012. This impact fee is collected from the operators of unconventional gas wells in the Commonwealth. The PA PUC publishes a year-by-year report on the distribution of impact fees on the county and municipality level. For more general information about Act 13 impact fees, visit the Act 13 Impact Fees section of our website.

What rights do citizens and municipalities have to object to or comment on a permit application for a proposed unconventional well?

Parties entitled to file objections to a well permit location are the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the surface landowner, and, under certain conditions, a coal operator, lessee, or owner. Section 3211(b.2) of the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act, 58 P.S. §3211(b.2). A municipality where the tract of land on which an unconventional well is to be located is authorized to submit written comments to the DEP describing local conditions or circumstances which the municipality believes should be considered by the DEP in acting on the permit application. Similarly, a storage operator located within 3,000 feet of a proposed unconventional vertical well bore may submit written comments to the DEP describing circumstances which the storage operator believes should be considered by the DEP in acting on the permit application. In both instances, the comments must be submitted to the DEP within 15 days of receipt of the plat submitted as part of the permit application.

How can I learn about new wells and related infrastructure that are planned for my community?

Pursuant to Section 3211 (b) of the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act, 58 P.S. §3211(b), a well permit applicant is required to notify a number of parties of the proposed well. Specifically, the applicant must forward by certified mail a copy of the plat, or map, of the proposed well site to:

the surface owner of the land on which the well will be located;
the municipality where the land on which the well to be drilled is located;
each municipality within 3,000 feet of the proposed unconventional vertical well bore;
each municipality adjacent to the well;
all surface landowners and water purveyors whose water supplies are located within 3,000 feet of the proposed vertical well bore;
storage operators within 3,000 feet of the proposed unconventional vertical well bore;
owners and lessees of any coal seams; and
each coal operator required to be identified in the well permit application. For information about permits as they are issued, you can register with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) eNOTICE Subscription service. eNOTICE is a service provided by the DEP which alerts subscribers to changes in the status of permits, including those issued to companies involved in oil and gas development. Once you have registered, you will receive e-mail updates from the DEP with information about permits.

Where does the water come from that is used to hydraulically fracture an unconventional well?

Section 3211(m) of the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act, 58 P.S. §3211(m), requires a well operator to have an approved water management plan before it withdraws or uses water sources within the Commonwealth for drilling or hydraulically fracturing an unconventional gas well. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection requires the water management plans to be submitted for its review as part of the well permit application. A water management plan identifies the water sources from which water will be withdrawn and the conditions pursuant to which the withdrawals will occur. An individual can review a gas well permit, including the approved water management plan, at the office of the DEP for the region in which the well is located by contacting the office and scheduling a file review. Permits for all of teh wells drilled in the eleven southwestern counties are located at the PA DEP’s Southwest Regional Office.

How can I find out what chemicals were used to hydraulically fracture an unconventional well?

Section 3222.1 of the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act, 58 P.S. §3222.1, requires the operator of an unconventional well to disclose the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing of that well within 60 days after the commencement of the hydraulic fracturing. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has designated FracFocus as the chemical disclosure registry for wells located in the Commonwealth. FracFocus is designed to present data for wells hydraulically fractured after June 1, 2011, and posts this information online. There is an important exception to the regulatory requirement that allows a well operator to designate information relating to the specific identity of a chemical or concentration of chemical as a trade secret or confidential proprietary information, and that information is then treated by the DEP as confidential under the Pennsylvania Right to Know Law.

How much gas has been produced from unconventional wells in my municipality?

Production data for each natural gas well in the Commonwealth is posted on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Oil & Gas Reporting website. The data posted on this website is self-reported by each natural gas producer (both conventional and unconventional producers) in the Commonwealth, as required by the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act, and is not independently verified by the DEP. The data identifies the volumes of gas, condensate and oil produced at each well for a specified reporting period. The reporting periods for unconventional wells are:

Annual periods for the years up to July 1, 2010
Semiannual periods (every 6 months) from July 1, 2010 through December 31, 2014
Monthly periods from January 2015 to the present. To find out how much gas has been produced from unconventional wells in a particular municipality during a particular reporting period, select “Production Report” in the left navigation bar.

How can I find out when a particular unconventional well was spudded?

Both the Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection (DEP) and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) maintain records of unconventional natural gas wells, including dates when drilling commenced (also known as “spud” dates). You can visit this link to find information about the wells including the location, operator, spud date, and permit number. To narrow your search results, select a timeframe, county, municipality, operator, and/or status of the well.