Boot Camps

Community impacts of oil & gas development

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What is a Boot Camp?

WHAT: On October 23 – 25, 2019, SciLine hosted Community Impacts of Oil & Gas Development, an all-expenses-paid, 2½-day workshop designed to arm journalists—including those without deep backgrounds in science—with the knowledge and context they would need to incorporate research-based evidence into stories about how oil and gas development is affecting U.S. communities.

WHY: Oil and gas development contributes to the U.S. economy, employs workers, and plays an important role in meeting the country’s energy needs. Extensive research has shown, however, that this activity also affects the Earth’s climate and poses health and environmental risks for nearby communities. Scientific evidence and context can add rigor to journalistic coverage of these complex tradeoffs and ultimately inform the choices that people, businesses, and communities make.

This non-partisan boot camp included an opening keynote by Dr. John P. Holdren, Professor of Environmental Science and Policy at Harvard University and former Chief Science Advisor to President Obama, as well as faculty presentations, networking opportunities, and a field trip to a working shale-energy well site. Academic experts from around the country summarized the latest research and state of science relevant to:

  • Energy & Climate: Participants learned about the current U.S. energy production profile and how oil and gas development fits into the broader picture of variously proposed efforts to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.
  • Environmental Impacts: Experts described how oil and gas development can impact species, habitats, and local ecosystems, as well as what is known about potential risks for induced seismic activity.
  • Public Health Impacts: Attendees were brought up to speed on the human health risks of living near oil and gas development projects, including changes in air and water quality and other potential routes of exposure to toxins.
  • Disparities: Scientists summarized research that aims to understand how underserved communities are particularly affected by all of the above and by additional social impacts.

WHEN & WHERE: The workshop was held at the Penn State University Park campus in State College, Pennsylvania, from the evening of Wednesday October 23 through the afternoon of Friday October 25. This was a no-cost event; all travel, accommodation, and program costs were covered by SciLine’s philanthropic grants.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY: Community Impacts of Oil and Gas Development was offered by SciLine, a philanthropically supported, free service for journalists, based at the nonprofit American Association for the Advancement of Science. SciLine’s mission is to strengthen news stories by facilitating the inclusion of research-derived evidence—with the ultimate goal of informing the public.

The course was hosted by Penn State, Pennsylvania’s sole land-grant institution, whose mission embraces teaching, research, public engagement, and service.