Welcome to our Blog! 

Environmental science major Christina Mauri (2016), as part of her independent study for her writing minor, posted updates about ALLARM and information about hydraulic fracturing. 

Please let us know if you have any news or information for us to cover here!

Post 1/29/2015

posted Apr 25, 2015, 8:30 AM by Tyler Ryan   [ updated Apr 25, 2015, 8:30 AM by Rachael Huff ]

On January 8th 2015, the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) was alerted of a fracking wastewater leak in Williams County approximately 15 miles north of Williston. The pipeline was operated Summit Midstream Partners LP, a large natural gas company headquartered out of Woodlands, TX. Summit Midstream has reported that the leak included approximately 70,000 barrels of produced water and an unknown amount of oil from a salt water collection line. According to this equated to three million gallons of brine, the largest fracking wastewater spill since the fracking boom began.

The spill impacted the nearby waters in Blacktail Creek downstream of Blacktail Lake and also the Little Muddy Creek, but according to the NDDoH the spill does not present a threat to public drinking water or human health at this time. reported that geochemist, Avner Vengosh, sampled the wastewater and found it to be ten times saltier than seawater.

The NDDoH released another statement on January 21 reporting that Summit Midstream hired an environmental contractor to assist with clean up and long-term remediation. Approximately 64,000 barrels of water have been removed from Blactail Creek since the remediation efforts began.

The North Dakota Oil and Gas Division and the Department of Health continue to monitor the impacted area and remediation efforts.

Post 2/13/15

posted Feb 17, 2015, 4:22 PM by Lance Jubic   [ updated Apr 25, 2015, 8:44 AM by Rachael Huff ]

On Saturday 28th, 2015, there will be a shale gas steam monitoring workshop hosted by Marcellus Butler Outreach and The Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring. The workshop will train participants on stream monitoring techniques to document the health of local waterways.

The workshop will take place at Conley Resort Inn in Butler Pa from 9am – 3pm. The registration date is February 20th, 2015. For more information please see

Post 1/22/2015

posted Jan 30, 2015, 8:14 AM by Lance Jubic   [ updated Apr 25, 2015, 8:38 AM by Rachael Huff ]

Welcome to Lawrence & Mercer Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring (ALLARM). This semester’s first meeting was held on Thursday, January 22 in Patterson hall room 208. Intro to Environmental Chemistry student, Melissa Egan, gave a presentation on water quality testing that she and her classmates performed on stream waters near Pulaski. Mara spoke about her independent research on air quality testing, which she recently presented and for which she won best oral presentation at the student symposium on the environment in December at Westminster College. Next month’s meeting will be held on Thursday, January 26 in Patterson hall.

For those of you who are new, the Lawrence & Mercer ALLARM program monitors local water and air qualities, educates the community about the oil and gas industry, and offers volunteers the opportunity to assess quality of the area’s natural resources. The ALLARM program was founded at Dickinson College, Pa and the Lawrence & Mercer County website is an extension of that branch.

To acquaint myself further with the program I went to some of the current members including co-creator of the website Lance Jubic for a quick recap of last semester’s accomplishments.

“Last semester, we hosted several speakers, including a fellow student who had the opportunity to work at hydraulic fracturing well,” said Lance. “We also acquired 2 data loggers.”

Environmental science majors, Mara Sawdy and Jamie Linderman are two additional current Westminster students working with the ALLARM team.

“For my part of the ALLARM program (the air quality measurements), we were able to get an air quality monitor into a house that is close to a well-pad site. I've started constructing a website that gives some basic air quality information and shows the measurements that have been taken so far,” said Mara.

“Last year, the goal of ALLARM was to expand and improve. We were fortunate to receive a grant from the Colcom Foundation, which allowed us to purchase the long-term data loggers that were placed in the stream, as well as Mara's air quality equipment,” said Jamie.

“We went to several outreach events throughout last semester, where we were able to engage with people in the community, and tell them what we are all about. At our monthly meetings, we had several guest speakers who were able to offer diverse perspectives about the topic. Along with making improvements to our website, we developed a mission statement which really embodies what we are trying to accomplish,” She added.

Environment America Publishes Shalefield Stories

posted Jun 19, 2014, 2:51 PM by Tyler Umstead   [ updated Jun 19, 2014, 2:52 PM by Rachael Huff ]

Personal and Collected Testimonies on Families Affected by Fracking

John Rumpler, Senior Attorney
Environment America

“Fracking is impacting the lives of families living in its shadow. It’s time for their voices to be heard. That’s why we’re supporting the Shalefield Stories project. Across the country, fracking is contaminating drinking water, making nearby families sick with air pollution, and turning forest acres into industrial zones. We believe it is vital for the public to hear directly from people living on the frontlines of fracking, and so Environment America Research & Policy Center is supporting the Shalefield Stories project—a booklet designed and published by Friends of the Harmed, group of volunteer citizen-journalists committed to providing support to affected individuals and families living in the shalefields of Western Pa."

See the Shalefield Stories booklet at Environment America's website

BP Calls it Quits in the Utica Shale – Total Write-off

posted May 1, 2014, 10:58 AM by Tyler Umstead   [ updated May 1, 2014, 10:58 AM by Rachael Huff ]

BP announced today they are pulling out of the Utica Shale and writing it all off. In a very brief mention in a press release issued this morning about first quarter 2014 results, BP says: “Following on from the decision to create a separate BP business around its US lower 48 onshore oil and gas activities, and as a consequence of appraisal results, BP has decided not to proceed with development plans in the Utica shale. The Upstream result includes a write-off relating to the Utica acreage.”

To read more, click here

Lawrence and Mercer ALLARM Mentioned in the Holcad, Westminster College's Student Newspaper

posted Apr 19, 2014, 1:08 PM by Tyler Umstead   [ updated Apr 19, 2014, 1:08 PM by Rachael Huff ]

Methane Emissions Questions Gas Being ‘Bridge’ Fuel

posted Apr 19, 2014, 12:26 PM by Tyler Umstead   [ updated Jun 22, 2014, 11:58 AM by Rachael Huff ]


"Natural gas as a means to produce electricity is being hailed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as the fuel that can act as a “bridge” between carbon-heavy coal and zero-carbon renewables, helping to reduce humans’ impact on the climate.

The idea is that burning natural gas involves fewer greenhouse gas emissions than burning coal. The IPCC in its Working Group III report says natural gas as a bridge fuel will only be effective if few gases escape into the atmosphere during natural gas production and distribution.

But a study published Monday adds to the growing evidence those escaping gases, called “fugitive” emissions, are numerous, especially methane emissions while a well is being drilled, a phase of well development previously thought to emit little if any methane. Over a 100-year time frame, methane is about 35 times as potent as a climate change-driving greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and over 20 years, it’s 84 times more potent."

To read more, see original article
-Bobby Magill

Westminster Students Present Fracking Research at Pittcon

posted Apr 15, 2014, 5:32 PM by Tyler Umstead   [ updated Jun 19, 2014, 2:54 PM by Rachael Huff ]

Westminster College chemistry students and Dr. Helen Boylan, Westminster College associate professor of chemistry, attended the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (Pittcon) in March in Chicago.
Pittcon is one of the largest analytical chemistry conferences in the world with more than 18,000 attendees, hundreds of technical presentations, and nearly 1,000 exhibitors.

Tyler Umstead and Danielle Murtagh presented their research on heavy metal detection on fracking produced water. To learn more about their undergraduate research, click here

Presentation on Community Impacts of Marcellus Shale Development

posted Apr 15, 2014, 11:43 AM by Tyler Umstead   [ updated Apr 15, 2014, 11:43 AM by Rachael Huff ]

Westminster College
McKelvey Campus Center (MCC) 
Witherspoon Room
April 16, 2014

We invite anyone who has an interest in the sociological impacts of fracking to come to this lunch time lecture presentation.  Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at 11:30 am refreshments will be served, followed by the lecture which will start at 11:40 am.  The lecture “Community Impacts of Marcellus Shale Development” is being given by Dr. Kathryn Brasier, of Penn State’s Main Campus.  Speaker Kathryn Braiser is the associate professor of rural sociology in the Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education at Penn State University. This event is sponsored by Alpha Kappa Delta, Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice Studies, and Sociology-Criminal Justice Studies-Interest-Opportunities-News (SCION).

Phase II of the Fracking Boom: It’s Here,What Do We Do Now?

posted Apr 1, 2014, 5:23 PM by Tyler Umstead   [ updated Apr 15, 2014, 12:03 PM by Rachael Huff ]

A town hall meeting on shale gas development (Thursday April 24, 2014, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.) Hosted by the Sister of the Humility of Mary-Villa Maria Community Center, Villa Maria Magnificent Dining Room

For more information on this event, please see the flyer. 

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