Seeing is believing—
and even what you can’t see can hurt you
Methane is 86 times more damaging to our climate than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame – longer than the time that scientists say we have to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are linked to a range of health problems, including headaches, nausea, nosebleeds, dizziness, and even cancer. These directly threaten the nearly 13 million U.S. residents who live within a half-mile radius of more than one million active oil and gas facilities.
Earthworks’ Field Investigators work to:
- Document and publicize pollution from oil and gas facilities.
- Prompt regulatory investigations of the need for operators to fix leaks and control their pollution.
- Support and raise the voices of frontline residents in pressuring industry and government to eliminate pollution.
- Advance state and federal policies to protect health and the climate.
- Expose shortcomings in the ability and political will of states to prevent the oil and gas industry from harming the climate and health, and to hold operators accountable.
- Support a just and equitable managed decline away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy.
Making the Invisible Visible
How Optical Gas Imaging Works
Earthworks’ trained and certified thermographers record pollution with Optical Gas Imaging (OGI) technology, the same approach used by industry and regulators.
Earthworks uses a GF 320 OGI camera manufactured by FLIR and developed by engineers and the oil and gas industry to visualize otherwise invisible gases. The camera is calibrated to a narrow range where hydrocarbon gases absorb infrared energy. This makes the gases opaque so the camera can record them for us to see.
Documenting Pollution Across the U.S. and Internationally
To date, our Field Investigators have recorded air pollution in 18 states, as well as Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, and the United Kingdom. Most of our work has been in California, Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
Seeing Is Believing
The oil and gas industry and its proponents have long misled the public by denying and downplaying the pollution operations cause. Industry claims it can sufficiently reduce pollution – but widespread evidence shows that it hasn’t, and doesn’t seem capable of doing so.
Our Field Investigators:
- Make oil and gas pollution visible
- Empower communities living with pollution
- Push public officials to protect health and the climate