Garrett County and Natural Gas - Risks and Benefits

A selection of categorized links to allow one to assess the risks and benefits of gas development in Garrett Conty.

Garrett County Montage

What is this website about?

This website provides a comprehensive collection of links to websites, articles, studies, reports, etc. that can be used to learn about the various risks and benefits associated with the development of natural gas in Garrett County, including the development of the Marcellus Shale rock formation by means of hydraulic fracturing (fracking).The links mostly point to newspaper articles, reports, studies, etc. that are factual and are based on documented peer reviewed information, rather than emotional tales of the rights and wrongs. The benefits are clearly economics, for individuals, the communities, the County and the State, but there are also many downsides, some for which we have insufficient data or studies to allow us to make an informed decision.
To assist in whatever argument one wants to make, for or against, links to various technological aspects of the gas development process are also included. It's important to have some understanding of the machineries, systems and procedures in order to make informed decisions about risks and benefits. With the link, the title of the article, etc. is provided a teaser of the information at the link. These excerpts are extracted and copied verbally from the linked website.
The links and associated data are contained in a text file and represents the database. A search capability is available from the home page that can query any aspect of the database.
We would like to hear from you as to how we're doing and how it is helping you. Particularly, we invite you to send us links you deem important, and we'll do our best to include them in the database. Send us a link, and any comments you may have, via the "Contact" page. The process for including a new link is mostly automated, so that it is minimal effort on our side to include it in this website. If you really want to help go to this page to check out how you can contribute.
In addition to the factual information that this website will be mainly dealing with, there is also a section where one can express one's personal opinion, and which will be made part of the record.
Why should we be interested in developing gas resources in the US? There are very rationale reasons why natural gas should be developed:
  1. Gas contributes to our energy independence. It is an abundant domestic resource that is usually very expensive to import
  2. Gas can directly replace coal and petroleum for electric generation, potentially reducing environmental impacts
  3. A national infrastructure to distribute gas already exists
  4. Gas drilling is more environmentally friendly than leaks from offshore wells and mountaintop removal coal mining
  5. Gas is the cleanest fuel in terms of the production of greenhouse effluents
Some of this can be disputed, but from the grand scheme of things these comments are not far off. To understand my personal motives, check this here,
The question, however, is: "Should gas development occur in Garrett County?" Is it compatible with the economy that the county is based on? Will money derived from developing natural gas really help the county, or is it just a benefit for a few people? This gets us to examining the risks associated with gas development.

What is risk anyway?

Risk is part of every human endeavor. Risk is the potential of losing something of value. Risk is the chance or probability that a person will be harmed or experiences an adverse health effect if exposed to a hazard. It may also apply to situations with property or equipment loss. [(1)(3) Risk, Hazard]
A hazard is any source of potential damage, harm or adverse health effects on something or someone under certain conditions at work.
The third item is the 'Consequence', which is how severe the hazard is, should one be exposed to it. A particular hazard can have very minimal consequences. For example, everyone is exposed to low levels of methane by breathing outdoor air. But methane in its gas form is an asphyxiant, which in high concentrations may displace the oxygen supply you need for breathing, especially in confined spaces. So the consequence from being in the presence of methane depends on the concentration of methane, in other words the size of the hazard.
The various potential sources of damage, harm, or adverse health effects, are categorized in this website as falling under "The Land" and "The People." This reflects how the land, below the surface, at the surface and above the surface are altered by human activities and how people themselves are affected by the changes in the landscape.
Below, in the left side column are the subcategories of the risks to people to be examined. In the right column are the various subcategories that describe how changes to the environment affect the people themselves.
This website will try to look at all of these issues in multiple ways, with sub-sub categories were appropriate, but first it is important to understand the context, the region and the people where all of this is taking place.
The format of the website is setup so that one can go from a category (headline) description to a summary of that headline, followed by references and links that go into much greater detail.
We hope that the information presented on this website is useful to you. We try to be factual. There is, however, an unavoidable bias, in that we, as a group and as a person, prefer not to see any development of natural gas in the Deep Creek Watershed or Garrett County asa whole. However, we recognize that the decision is yours, and we hope you make this logically and fully informed. Hopefully this website accomplishes that.

References

  1. Risk and Hazard as defined by the US Department of Energy (DOE) as used in a clearing house for risk assessment information used to evaluate and remediate legacy contamination from the Manhattan Project.
  2. What is methane?
  3. Risk and Hazard as defined by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety