Look closely at the energy-related news stories of the past dozen or so days, and, between the lines, you’ll see a theme: government makes predictions and assertions that cannot be backed up by data to protect or project preferred messaging.
Fracking News The unusual collaboration of the University of Texas (UT) and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) conducted a first-ever detailed examination—more than 500 wells were analyzed—of individual drilling sites to determine the total amount of escaped methane from shale gas operations. The study was released on September 16 by the National Academy of Sciences. The New York Times story on the study opens with: “Drilling for shale gas through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, appears to cause smaller leaks of the greenhouse gas methane than the federal government had estimated.” It reports: “Previous E.P.A. estimates relied on engineering calculations, and other studies gathered data via aircraft flights over drilling sites.”
Why does this matter? Because environmental groups have used previous methane-leak estimates to claim that leaks offset the environmental benefits of the clean-burning natural gas the wells produce. Such claims are used to bolster fracking opposition. A September 17 press release from the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works states: “methane leakage from shale gas development is not releasing nearly as much methane as U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had predicted. EPA’s grossly exaggerated estimates have been widely used by critics and far-left environmentalists to discredit the benefits of hydraulic fracturing.”
The exaggerated estimates of methane leaks came from a study released two years ago when two Cornell University scientists, Robert Howarth and Anthony Ingraffea, reported catastrophic levels of methane were being leaked by fracking operations. According to Forbes, “a slew of experts” discredited the research, which just reviewed EPA data and relied on estimates and hypotheticals.
Jon Entine cites the Park Foundation as the source of funding for much of Cornell’s anti-fracking research. Park also funded the anti-fracking Gasland movies. Entine states: “Two years ago in an interview for an investigative story on Park and Howarth for Ethical Corporation, the Cornell professor blurted out to me that he was recruited by a Park Foundation family member who thought a university study criticizing fracking and challenging the ‘Green credentials’ of shale gas would advance the cause.”
The Associated Press “Big Story” titled: “Study: Methane leaks from gas drilling not huge,” concludes: “While methane concentrations in the atmosphere have been rising since 2007, federal scientists say they’ve found no sign that gas or oil drilling is contributing because the methane emissions come from a different part of the globe.”
Opposition to fracking also uses threats to the water supply and earthquake fears to scare people.
Back in 2011, the EPA blamed fracking for groundwater contamination in Pavillion, Wyoming. Reports declared: “For the first time, federal environmental regulators have made a direct link between the controversial drilling practice known as hydraulic fracturing and groundwater contamination.” Then, after the report was found to be flawed, in June, the EPA announced: that “it does not plan to finalize or seek peer review of its draft Pavillion groundwater report.”
Now, as of September 11, the EPA has “officially washed its hands of the investigation.” Marcellus Drilling News explains: “Now, with hardly a peep, the EPA published an official notice in yesterday’s Federal Register that they’ve turned the lights out on their Pavillion investigation.” Referencing the EPA Pavillion study, on May 16, 2012, Investors Business Daily states: “if eventually upheld, [it] would be the first time that drilling for natural gas itself contaminated water from underground aquifers.” Apparently, by admission that it will not “finalize or seek peer review of the final draft report,” the EPA couldn’t uphold its findings.
Reporter Mark Green posted an overview of a September 12 briefing he attended, regarding a peer-reviewed study done on hydraulic fracturing’s impacts. The study, Green says, is “hailed by the author as the first comprehensive look at the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing.” The study was conducted at the 1,000-acre Inglewood oil field in the heart of Los Angeles and concludes: “energy development using fracking and horizontal drilling technologies is safe, doesn’t threaten water supplies or cause earthquakes.” The study specifically examined groundwater, seismic activity, well integrity, and air emissions.
At the briefing, the study’s lead author, Dan Tormey, a hydrologist, geochemist, and civil engineer, talked about how the public receives its information. Tormey told of addressing the public with the facts, when an audience member said: “Gasland is our facts, and you’re trying to present these as your facts.” Tomey told the crowd at the September 12 briefing: “I found that really interesting because the first-generation studies were really a data-free zone, and the purpose of this study was to be very data-rich.” He added: “Facts have a longer row to hoe than fear.”
Some of the study results Green cited include: “Fracking had no detectable effect on vibration and did not induce earthquakes,” and “emissions associated with high-volume hydraulic fracturing were within standards set by the regional air quality authority.”
About the Author: Marita Noon
The author of Energy Freedom
, Marita Noon
serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc
. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy
(CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.
- See more at: http://www.cfact.org/2013/09/23/obamas-war-on-energy-is-not-unbelievably-small-at-all/#sthash.8VQ3VJ65.dpuf