“Oil and Gas Threat Map” Offers No New Analysis, Only Fearmongering

The Oil and Gas Threat Map, a newly launched interactive map from two anti-fracking activist organizations, simply rehashes flawed research in an updated format.

The map, a product of Earthworks and the FracTracker Alliance, is a virtual tool with a dynamic user interface that purports to map out “threat zones” around the country where the groups claim communities are exposed to pollution as a result of living near oil and natural gas development, but provides exactly zero evidence that those living in these zones actually face any health threats.

In fact, the Oil and Gas Threat Map offers nothing in the way of new research or analysis, and instead relies on discredited research to push anti-fracking campaigns across the country.

As described on its own website, the Oil and Gas Threat Map is and overly simple concept that attempts to draw a direct line between development and perceived health threats:

  • “Plots the location of all active oil & gas production facilities in the United States,

  • draws a ½ mile health threat radius around all of those facilities,

  • and counts the residents, and enrolled students and schools they attend, within that health threat radius.”

The activist groups behind the map used “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 map’s authors cite several studies as support for the “½ mile health threat radius” designation, but none of the studies establishes that proximity to oil and natural gas development is a proxy for exposure to pollutants.

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