PITTSBURGH \u2013 Fenceline monitoring is a way to monitor emissions from well pads and other gas industry sites. It\u2019s been talked about in West Virginia for several years, though the state has done nothing about it.\r\n\r\nSeveral experts talked about its potential benefits, its limitations and its apparent inevitability during a panel session the second of the 2018 Shale Insight Conference.\r\n\r\nFenceline monitoring involves setting up air and weather monitoring equipment at the edge of well pads in order to get a handle on what\u2019s escaping from the site into the surrounding community.\r\n\r\nWVU Professor Michael McCawley told the Legislature several years ago that it\u2019s a good way to track not only air quality, but noise, dust and light pollution. His recommendation came from a study mandated by the Legislature, but the Legislature never did anything with it.\r\n\r\nDuring the panel discussion, energy attorney Jessica Sharrow Thompson explained to the audience what fenceline monitoring is. Across all industries \u2013 not just natural gas \u2013 the EPA\u2019s Air Toxics Initiative and enforcement efforts are leading to fenceline monitoring to reduce hazardous air pollutants.\r\n\r\nEPA\u2019s action has picked up since 2016, she said, though there are no current federal or state mandates to do it. \u201cBut it\u2019s likely to start coming.\u201d\r\n\r\nFour factors are driving that movement, she said: air quality and public health data gaps; what EPA terms \u201ccitizen science,\u201d which is encouraging people to collect their own data, unfortunately with low cost sensors and monitors that generate unreliable data; community concerns; and EPA\u2019s air quality enforcement and national compliance initiative.\r\n\r\nAlong with addressing those issues, she said, fenceline monitoring can help providing transparency to the public and allow operators to track their data and refine site emissions estimate.\r\n\r\nBut there are risks, too, she said. Among them, the public and agencies can misunderstand and even misuse the data.\r\n\r\nLisa Bailey, senior toxicologist with environmental consulting firm Gradient Corp., talked about public health and the limitations of fenceline monitoring.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s important to think about exposure and also to think about risk,\u201d she said.\r\n\r\nIt has to be understood, she said, that toxic substance concentrations at the monitor won\u2019t be the same as at the source, or out in the community. Concentrations will decrease moving away form the source.\r\n\r\nData will be affected by other air sources: industry, cars and so on, she said, along with wind and weather. \u201cThat has to be considered when considering health impacts.\u201d\r\n\r\nOut in the community, it\u2019s hard to distinguish what\u2019s coming from the site from what\u2019s coming from other sources such as industry and vehicles, she said. Monitors should also be installed at point in the community, although that data will be affected by other sources, too.\r\n\r\nAnd evaluating the data and how site emissions might affect public health also poses a challenge, she said, because other factors will play a role \u2013 such as exposure to other pollutants, smoking and so on.\r\n\r\nChristopher Rimkus, managing general counsel for MPLX\/MarkWest, shared the real life example of adequate data providing a payoff when a citizen complained about site emissions and EPA stepped in with threats of enforcement.\r\n\r\n\u201cWhat we assumed to be true was in fact true,\u201d he said. \u201cFolks were safe.\u201d\r\n\r\nBut that was just one site. \u201cThere\u2019s still a lack of trust. We need data to inform the public, to inform our operations, to inform rulemaking."\r\n\r\nHaving adequate data and sharing it assures the regulators and the public, he said. \u201cWe need to gather it in a way where there\u2019s transparency.\u201d It has to be available to everyone.