The industrial practice of gas extraction known as hydraulic fracturing has triggered a wide range of citizen monitoring projects. The aims, practices and sensibilities of these monitoring projects signal a wide range of citizen interests and concerns towards this industry, and the strategies they are deploying to respond to it.
The range of these interests also expands notions of citizen-sensing to encompass practices that may engage with environments by doing more than monitoring, by also creating new forms of community organization or collective imagining about fracking.
In addition to the Citizen Sense kit developed for participants to use in relation to fracking infrastructure in northeasthern Pennsylvania, a large number of monitoring projects are invested in monitoring pollution around fracking sites, mostly by focusing on water and air. These monitoring projects often produce DIY kits, (including the CATTFish developed by Create Lab, and ALLARM Shale Gas Monitoring Toolkit at Dickinson College); by deploying affordable off-the-shelf sensors (such as Elk County Water Monitoring Project); or by deploying more high-end industrial equipment (including the Picarro Surveyor for Natural Gas Emissions).
Another set of projects monitoring fracking activities might be described under the umbrella of grassroots projects. These projects attempt to provide counter-evidential data that contest official data, or the lack of it, with the intention of changing industry practices or regulations. They include fieldwork to uncover abandoned wells (Save our Streams), mapping fracking sites (FracTracker), or participating in scientific or research monitoring projects (Breathe Easy Susquehanna County). Some of these projects also focus on the effects of fracking-based pollutants on human’s health (The Endocrine Disruption Exchange), or their effects on residents’ everyday lives (Sullivan County Listening Project and List of the Harmed).
Some institutes and universities work with citizens through research projects focused on education or knowledge production (Shale Network), whereas different types of governmental institutions are engaged in the dissemination of knowledge about fracking, either by understanding its industrial processes (ExploreShale), or analysing and publishing data (Watershed Knowledge Mapping Project).
Lastly, there are fracking-related projects which are oriented towards creative practices, where pollution sensing is engaged with through artistic means. The intention of these projects is to experience or problematise pollution (such as HeHe’s Fracking Futures project), which might provide an expanded way of addressing how we sense and monitor pollution.