Sunday, 10 January 2016
Hall E ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
As unconventional oil and gas production continues to grow in the U.S., the environmental impacts of these operations (e.g. water and air pollution, light and noise pollution, impacts on infrastructure, booming & busting local economies) will inevitably become topics in the affected communities. One such region of unconventional oil and gas production is the Eagle Ford Shale, which extends from eastern Texas to the U.S.-Mexico border. The Bryan-College Station (BCS) metropolitan area, home to Texas A&M University, is one of the largest population centers within the Eagle Ford Shale. With a population of over 200,000 and more than 700 oil and gas wells capable of production, Brazos County serves as a location to study the air quality impacts of oil and gas production in an urban/suburban environment. I propose a passive air quality monitoring campaign in the BCS area in which community members will assist in gathering samples that will be analyzed using instrumentation at Texas A&M University. Inert Teflon bags will be automatically filled with a valve and pump that are controlled by a programmable microcomputer, e.g. a Raspberry Pi or Arduino. A 10 ml syringe will be used to perform injections into trace gas analyzers, with target compounds including CO2, CO, and CH4 (methane). Non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC), including alkanes and aromatics, will be measured using a GC-FID. Air masses containing emissions from oil and gas operations will be identified using ethane/methane ratios, as ethane is not produced by microbial activity. Meteorological data will be available from the KCLL ASOS station and the Texas A&M Research Farm Mesonet. With community members concurrently sampling at multiple locations in the BCS area, air quality would be assessed on a regional scale. Sampling may also be performed at regular intervals to provide a temporal dimension to the air quality analysis. Lastly, all air quality data would be made available to the BCS community via the internet. This air quality campaign is designed to establish a symbiotic relationship between scientists and community members, wherein the public would benefit from increased air quality monitoring in their community and learn about applied environmental science techniques, while scientists at Texas A&M University recruit community members who are willing to contribute to air quality research through monetary donations, sampling opportunities, and land use.
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