Associated Press Says Fracking Debate Based on Bad Science. What Science?

fear and fracking.jpg
Justin Renteria
The Associated Press has news for the people who live above the shale formations experts say have transformed America's energy terrain: Critics of the gas extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing are as guilty of hyperbole, or downright dishonesty, as the industry's most ardent defenders.

To wit: Josh Fox, director of the controversial documentary that brought fracking to the fore, Gasland and a follow-up, The Sky Is Pink, claimed that, "In Texas, as throughout the United States, cancer rates fell -- except in one place -- in the Barnett Shale."

But a professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center says the numbers don't back him up. And an epidemiologist with the Texas Cancer Registry says they haven't documented that kind of spike. As the AP report lays out a few other contradictory anecdotes, one gets left with the impression that the people of the shale have no legitimate fears, that they're behaving hysterically, irrationally. That, I think, is unfair.

Of course it is passionate. Of course it is emotional. How could it be any other way? Because, for them, this is an existential threat. They believe the process is literally killing them. The problem is, there is almost no scientific research with which to convince them otherwise. An exhaustive EPA inquiry into the effects of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water isn't due for public comment until 2014, seven years into the gas boom. About the actual health effects, science is mostly mum.

The most thorough research so far has come out of a three-year Colorado School of Public Health study that analyzed emissions associated with fracking. It found higher cancer risks among those living nearest gas wells. A top official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said more research is needed. "We do not have enough information to say with certainty whether shale gas drilling poses a threat to public health," said Christopher Portier, director of the CDC's National Center for Environmental Health and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, in an email to Bloomberg.

Even George Mitchell, the man credited with unlocking the shale through hydraulic fracturing, says more stringent regulation of the industry is needed.

No doubt he's right, but it is in the absence of scientific research that ignorance and misinformation grow like yeast. I've found that when a derrick goes up near someone's house, they'll take their answers wherever they can get them. Unfortunately, there aren't many good ones.


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18 comments
gmit
gmit

A monster about to attack my house ! O no !

 

That just about tells me anything I need to know about this story, just like a murdered man in Florida that gets mentioned as a teen and a four year old picture becomes the go to file photo

claytonauger
claytonauger

I suggest anyone who wants to know what it's like to live by a well or compressor actually go and see what it's like - just to have an idea of whats coming Dallas's way. There are plenty of them in Denton and Tarrant Counties. They are not quiet and they are not clean. There are a host of public health problems now associated with fracking, the research for which wasn't even available a year ago - silica air pollution, injection well earthquakes, the Colo. cancer study, smog studies from NOAA in the West, and low-birth weights among Pennsylvania state women living within a mile and a half of wells. The hard science tells us that if you release the voluminous amounts of toxic and hazardous air pollution that gas mining emits, you will have adverse health consequences. It can't give you names, but it can give you mathematical certainty that people will be hurt. Regulations governing fracking can't keep up with the research. That should be a red flag for Dallas.

TXsharon
TXsharon

Please click http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/AAG/dcpc.htm to go to the Center for Disease Control website titled,Cancer: Addressing the Cancer Burden at a Glance, and scroll WAY down to Texas Cancer Programs. There you should find this:

 

"n 2009, data from the registry showed that six counties in the western Dallas-Fort Worth area had the highest incidence of invasive breast cancer in the state. These counties are Tarrant (which includes the city of Fort Worth), Denton, Wise, Parker, Hood, and Johnson."

 

Read it out loud if you have to, especially the part that says 6 counties in Texas have the highest incidence of invasive breast cancer in the state. Hmmm.

 

The AP "reporter" got a few other things wrong and I suspect he cherry picked his quotes. If your interested see this http://www.texassharon.com/2012/07/23/about-those-breast-cancer-rates-in-texas-and-the-ap-article/

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

Ummm, how can anyone take these cancer fears seriously.  I'm not saying that fracking doesn't cause cancer, but I doubt it does so in 3 years.  That's totally absurd. 

 

I have a problem with the waste of water in fracking.  If the industry is to be believed, that water is forever lost.  Water is more precious than natural gas, there are alternatives to natural gas, none for water.  If the industry is mistaken, then the polluted water may be terribly polluting. 

 

There does to be a big problem with fracking in certain soils.  These are in shallow formations or sandy soils.  I think we might have gotten ahead of ourselves on this, and I want much more study.  Fortunately, this is happening due to simple economics, as the boom caused fools to rush in, and Chesapeake may be going under soon. 

 

I'm Texan, I don't begrudge guns or oil, though both demand a modicum of responsibility. 

1morereason2carry
1morereason2carry

If you need to lie to gain attention for your cause you deserve the failure you achieve.

pak152
pak152

"Even George Mitchell, the man credited with unlocking the shale through hydraulic fracturing, says more stringent regulation of the industry is needed."

 

and you accept that at face value? that is much like Warren Buffett calling for higher taxes. when someone like Mitchell calls for increased regulation one has to wonder why? what is in it for him. Could increased regulations serve some other purpose such as making life tougher for his competition the independents?

While is call for increased regulation may sound like music to the ears of the anti-fracking crowd i suspect that he is not really on their side. don't think he doesn't have plan in place. but I seriously doubt if y'all will do any digging into his real reason for this call.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Them shale gas basterds kilt my Pa!

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

 @TXsharon Sharon, you have a correlation but you are not showing a causal link.  If you are going to use "science" to prove your hypothesis, please follow the scientific method.

 

Does the study that you cite describe anything other than incidence rates?

 

Please understand that I am not saying that you are wrong, I am saying that you have not shown a causal link.

 

Welcome to the wonderful world of epidemiological studies.

TXsharon
TXsharon

 @scottindallas 3 years? 

 

Fracking has been happening in those 6 counties for a lot longer than 3 years. Some say the height of the boom here was during 2008, but there was extensive drilling in all those 6 counties much earlier. 

 

 

1morereason2carry
1morereason2carry

 @scottindallas Until leftist activists(Like Jim Shutze and Eric Nicholson) learn and realize that their shrill exaggerations and proclamations of doom that are grounded in little truth do more to harm their cause than help... they will achieve nothing.

 

This is part of why they are so angry. Their impotence drives them to insanity.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @pak152 I meant to add (but without an edit button have to enter a new post) that we should be discussing how to craft effective and light regulation.   I've suggested a self funding insurance fund that is weighted by the scale of the projects and the firm's size.  I would like to see the fund be heavily and well capitalized.  This should encourage more responsible players to bring others to that higher standard.  That is an attempt to give self regulation a chance to work.  Lawsuits are a terrific regulator, and one that is not easily captured, and a post hoc regulation.  Though you and the GOP in the name of "tort reform" have destroyed the most venerable regulator in this country (the courts) 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @pak152 Another knee jerk comment.  Fracking is a classic case for the need of regulation.  Your asinine position is juvenile and destructive.  I don't want unwieldy regulation, rather we have to argue whether regulation is needed at all.  Utilities must be regulated.  Your failure to even try to address my repeated claims shows, you're an intellectual coward.  Utilities are NOT free market players.  Externalities are born by the gov't or the public, so your turning your back on them is socializing the costs while privatizing the gains.  So, you're in the socialist position. 

TXsharon
TXsharon

 @floribun No one that I know has used science to prove OR disprove the link as Brantley pointed out in his article. It is not my job to prove the casual link. It is my job to say: Oh look, the 6 counties with the highest rates of breast cancer correspond exactly to the 6 counties with the most VOC emitting gas and oil equipment per the state inventory. Wonder what's up with that. Would someone please figure it out and get back to us? 

 

Likewise with the emerging concern about the increased heart attacks and the increase in lung cancer in non smokers that I highlighted in my blog post. 

 

It is also my job to point out how the AP article cherry picked data and quotes. And the concern expressed from top notch scientists. 

 

We, as a nation, have been down this road before. I can remember exactly where I was (driving my VW on I-30 in Fort Worth nearing the Montgomery Street exit) when Big Tobacco finally released their secret formula for their cigarettes after decades of funding their own science, disinformation from Hill & Knowlton the same spinmeisters Big Gas & Oil uses, threatening and intimidating people who ask questions. 

 

I never smoked but I remember that day well. It was the day I stopped believing corporations and their paid scientists and started trusting my common sense. People who live in the gas patch know they are being poisoned and exposed to carcinogens. 

 

And guess what. There is still no proof that cigarettes cause cancer but everyone with a lick of sense knows they do. 

 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @1morereason2carry sounds like you're projecting, as the angry white conservative IS the Tea Party.  Why do you see this as a partisan phenomenon?  I remember the GOP owning the White House, and both houses of Congress and they were angry and bitter.  And, they were steam-rolling the dems.  

1morereason2carry
1morereason2carry

 @scottindallas "where do I?"

 

" And, they were steam-rolling the dems. "

 

You also brought up 2 other political parties whereas I referred to 0.

 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @1morereason2carry where do I?  You mentioned "Liberals"  and I suggested you're simply seeing your own projections of anger and resentment.  The GOP are sore winners.

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