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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Fracking Industry Distorts Science To Deceive Public And Policymakers

"... manipulated science can pose serious public health harms. Manufactured data, concealed conflicts of interest and misleading conclusions are evident in influential research on vaccination, organic food, secondhand smoke and industrial chemicals. Fracking apparently is no exception."
"The oil and gas industry sponsors and spins research to shape the scientific debate over horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. That's the conclusion of a watchdog group's analysis of more than 130 documents distributed to policymakers by industry representatives. "Research and statistics can be manipulated to say whatever the person using them wants to say," said Robert Galbraith, an analyst with the nonprofit Public Accountability Initiative and co-author of the report released on Wednesday. Public Accountability Initiative, which describes itself as a non-partisan advocate of corporate and government transparency, receives some financial support from groups opposed to fracking. Energy in Depth, the oil and gas industry's education and public outreach arm, presents its list of documents as evidence of the safety of a process that has been "closely regulated and extensively studied." The industry used the documents to persuade the Allegheny County Council in Pittsburgh in May to lease mineral rights under its Deer Lakes Park for gas drilling. Public Accountability Initiative's analysis determined that only one of the industry studies was both peer-reviewed and explicitly addressed public health concerns. That study was funded by the industry. Also on the industry's research list: retracted studies, industry PowerPoint presentations and blog posts. Omitted were hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific studies of fracking and potential impacts to the environment and public health.[...]

Energy in Depth's "hollow attempt to discredit one of those 447 peer-reviewed studies is clearly an effort to distract and deflect from the significant weight of evidence showing health and other serious impacts of drilling and fracking," Nolan and Buskin-Bedient said. Overall, the Public Accountability Initiative report found only 10 of Energy in Depth's highlighted studies had been both peer-reviewed and void of industry ties. And with many of those 10, said Galbraith, it was a stretch to say the research even addressed the possible impacts of fracking. One of the studies, for example, was a survey of trace elements conducted in the 1990s and early 2000s, before the shale gas boom had begun. "This shows how important it is to have a full picture," said Galbraith. "Where is your information coming from? What does it really say?" Energy in Depth's Brown told HuffPost that the list Public Accountability Initiative attacks "is in no way exhaustive." When asked if the industry group had a more exhaustive list to point to, Brown replied, "Ah, we don't at the moment.""**

**Of course they don't have "an exhaustive list" of studies purporting to show the safety of the fracking industry. Those studies don't exist. The gas industry and its apologists use smoke and mirrors and a lot of fingers-crossed-behind-their-backs. Amoral, unethical and "if-we-wish-real-hard, nothing-bad-will-happen (to us)" thinking. Meanwhile, check out the 7,000+ entries of those harmed by fracking in the US...a list that is growing

NIMBY...and my backyard is Pennsylvania.