Partnering with the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), our team has completed the design and deployment of Oil & Gas Watch News, an extension of Oil & Gas Watch. This new site provides data-driven stories examining the climate and human health impacts of oil and gas industry expansion.
The Oil & Gas Watch News website builds on an extensive public records database launched by our team and EIP in April called Oil & Gas Watch, which tracks permits and data for hundreds of oil and gas expansion and construction projects across the country. This platform brings transparency to the permitting process by ensuring project documentation is made free and easily available to any member of the public in need of this information. The Oil & Gas Watch platform has a variety of uses and can be of service to everyone from academic researchers to frontline activists. Oil & Gas Watch News and E-Newsletter will illustrate and provide context to the information shared through the Oil& Gas Watch platform through weekly in-depth articles.
EIP’s team of analysts and journalists will be writing weekly about numbers and trends in the industry based on the public records. The News service will also showcase investigations of local projects, analyses of industry trends, and profiles of communities and people whose lives are being changed by the expansion of the oil and gas industry. Other weeks, they will visit and interview people living in the shadow of oil refineries with toxic emissions, feature conversations with experts on the global footprint of the plastics industry, or investigate the use of tax breaks and eminent domain to advance projects.
Key Findings from Oil & Gas Watch Data
To date, our platform has supported data management comprehensively across all aspects of the Oil and Gas Industry. The numbers are astounding.
About 350 oil and gas projects have been built in the U.S. over the last decade that are permitted to release up to 131 million tons of greenhouse gasses per year. That’s as much climate altering pollution as from about 29 coal-fired power plants, or about 26 million gasoline-powered cars running for a year. An additional 303 proposed oil and gas projects have not yet been built, or have been started but are not yet complete. These projects have the potential to release an additional 195 million tons of greenhouse gasses annually.
Public records, data, maps and other information about all these projects – from Alaska to Florida – can be found by searching on the Oil & Gas Watch database. The database allows searches by state, company name, and industry sector. A brief summary of the proposed expansions in those industry sectors reveals the extent of the possible growth. The numbers below are current as of July 19, 2022.
- Petrochemicals and Plastics: At least 90 petrochemical and plastics projects have been proposed over the last decade, including 42 major construction projects that could increase annual greenhouse gas emissions by over 64 million tons and other health-damaging air pollutants (classified as “criteria” air pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide) by 39,035 tons. Roughly 86 percent of that greenhouse gas increase is expected to come from 14 new plants, mostly clustered along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast.
- Synthetic Fertilizer: Manufacturers of nitrogen-based synthetic fertilizer, which uses natural gas as a primary ingredient, have proposed 16 projects across the U.S. over the last decade. Nine of these are the proposed construction of new fertilizer plants, six are expansion projects at existing facilities, and one is a proposed restart of a plant that closed in 2007. The six major projects could produce 6.3 million tons of greenhouse gasses per year and 3,046 tons of criteria air pollutants.
- LNG: Seven liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals are currently operating in the U.S. On top of this, companies are building or proposing to build another 31 LNG projects — 20 new liquefaction plants or terminals and 11 expansions — that have the potential to emit more than 88 million tons of greenhouse gases per year.
- Refineries: Companies have proposed 43 refinery sector projects — this includes crude oil terminals, condensate splitters, oil refineries, and some renewable refineries — across the U.S. The 27 largest of these projects could increase greenhouse gas emissions by 14.4 million tons per year and criteria air pollutants by over 76,000 tons per year.
All of this development suggests adverse changes in downwind communities across the U.S. – as well as a significant potential burden on a global climate that is already badly out of balance.
Technologies Used and Relationship to our Mission
For this project, our team relied on WebFlow, a designer-first content management system (CMS) that enables users to rapidly stand up, iterate, and manage websites, blogs, as well as lightweight applications. Partnering with EIP, our team designed a responsive site that incorporates many useful features for categorizing articles, referencing third-party news sources, and building personalized author profiles that make it easy to connect with the team producing the content. Leaning on WebFlow’s robust CMS, EIP staff are able to easily publish, design, and integrate countless charts and analytics that make raw data from the Oil & Gas Watch site, easily digestible and anchored to answering clear policy questions.
This work truly embodies the culture and vision we seek to proliferate at The Commons. Oil & Gas Watch’s database serves as the transparent public repository of all data pertaining to the Oil, Gas, and Petrochemical Industry. Connected to that is Oil and Gas Watch News which truly serves as an analytical engine serving up robust information powered by the public data in Oil & Gas Watch. The two are tied together by The Commons’ Atlas Platform, a data management utility that ensures EIP Analysts are always able to keep industry records up to date and change the system’s data model as the sector’s tracking requirements evolve. The Oil & Gas Watch Platform goes a step beyond making raw data publicly available by leveraging analysis and salient articles to extract actionable information and help provide an accurate depiction of the externalities caused by sector expansion.
For questions regarding the data and article findings, get in touch with EIP’s Center for Environmental Investigation.
Want to learn more on how we built this application? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
For weekly updates and recent trends in the Oil and Gas Industry, signup for Oil and Gas Watch News