Like his buddy Tony Ingraffea, Bob Howarth has always been a fractivist on the Cornell University payroll but now he’s dropped every pretense of objectivity.
Bob Howarth is one-half of the Howarth Ingraffea partnership that produced perhaps the biggest lie of the fractivist movement. This Park Foundation financed duo tried and failed rather miserably to assert natural gas was dirtier than coal. It was a defensive move after natural gas replacement of coal in electricity generation started producing huge declines in CO2 and other emissions.
Fractivists needed to be able to deny the obvious; that natural gas production newly enabled by fracking was cleaning the air. Bob Howarth and Tony Ingraffea served up the needed junk science to assert gas produced more greenhouse gas than coal. It was a joke (more on that in a moment) but it got attention for a bit. The two Park shills, both of whom I’ve debated, got away with pretending it was their science and not their ideology that informed their positions. It’s now come to the point, though, that reality can no longer be denied. Howarth has dropped all pretense of objectivity and science, going full fractivist.
Yes, Bob Howarth is now a 100% self-admitted fractivist who has thrown his scientific credentials to the wind. What brought this to my attention was a webcast in which he recently participated. It was sponsored by Beyond Extreme Energy. It is a radical group that works the word “extreme” into its name to deflect attention from its own extremism (following the “always accuse your opponent of what you’re doing” axiom of all radical enterprises). Beyond Extreme Energy prides itself on staking FERC members their homes. They have been funded by the Center for Public Interest Research. It, in turn, is part of the U.S. PIRG operation, a trial lawyer rain-making initiative funded by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, the Tides Foundation, et al. They now collect donations through Earthworks, one of the organizations connected, through fractivist Rasputin Jay Hafon, to the Park Foundation (he’s on the board of both) and the Rockefellers.
We always knew Bob Howarth was a fractivist first and a scientist second, of course. We wrote about it here and included this video of him wearing a “Drilling Is Not Safe” button and rallying against natural gas development in 2010 even as his infamous junk science study was being prepared:
That video alone should have been proof Bob Howarth had crossed the line from independent scientist to fringe advocate. Nonetheless, he was able to continue to maintain a straight face and perpetuate the farce for quite some time. As Katie Brown, at Energy In Depth recently noted, though, it all came crashing down as truly independent scientists took a look at his junk science:
Notably, just about every credible scientist working on methane has criticized Howarth’s research, including his work with activist Cornell Professor Anthony Ingraffea. Both Howarth and Ingraffea have argued that methane emissions from oil and natural gas development are enough to wipe out the fuel’s environmental advantages, a theory that has been widely panned. Even President Obama’s former Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu (a Nobel Prize-winning physicist), said of Howarth and Ingraffea’s research: “we didn’t think it was credible.”
Other researchers who have criticized Howarth’s work include University of Chicago climate scientist Raymond Pierrehumbert; Berkeley physics professor Richard Muller; and Cornell earth, atmospheric sciences professor Louis Derry. Michael Levi from the Center for Foreign Relations asked rhetorically about Howarth and Ingraffea’s research: “Is there value in debating people who don’t want to think?”
Reports from MIT, the University of Maryland, multiple reports from the U.S. Department of Energy, Carnegie Mellon and Cornell University have contradicted Howarth’s and Ingraffea’s work. Even the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) … specifically singled out Howarth’s research as lacking in credibility.
Katie’s piece (please read the whole thing) also notes Bob Howarth has, in perhaps the biggest sign of his defection from science to ideological madness, joined the board of Food and Water Watch. This is a money-grubbing and profoundly radical group we’ve written about before here. It is funded with a combination of dark money hidden donations from donor-advised funds and financial support from the Park Foundation. The Park Foundation gave it $170,000 in 2015 to fight fracking in New York and California. Over the years, the Park Foundation has given Food and Water Watch well over a million more for the same thing ($150,000 each in 2010 and 2011, $295,000 in 2012, $250,000 in 2013 and $272,500 in 2014).
Food and Water Watch has also funded Howarth and Ingraffea’s research and their phony Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy fractivist facade. Bob Howarth’s addition to the Food and Water Watch board, in other words, is simply the addition of another title in the same organization. He’s still working with the same people. He’s only using a different moniker. He still gets attention from sycophants in the fractivist movement, of course, and even garnered a White House briefing opportunity recently to shore up a EPA power grab attempt and, no doubt, throw a bone to fractivist supporters of the Obama administration, but the evidence continues to come with study after study that his basic supposition is not only wrong, but that natural gas conversions are “reducing total national annual health damages by $20 – $50 billion annually.”
Meanwhile, Bob Howarth is now participating in Beyond Extreme Energy events. This latest one is another FERC attack. It took place at a FERC hearing in California on the Also Canyon matter. According to the group “members entered the meeting and spoke out to disrupt the hearing and demand that the concerns of the public be included.” They “set up camp outside the building and held [their] own ‘people’s hearing’ featuring front-line activists and experts from around the country.” At the top of the lineup was Bob Howarth to talk by Skype about “the climate threat of fracked gas.” It’s the same old pitch, of course, Howarth ignoring anyone and everyone who critiques his work.:
But, more importantly, take a look at Beyond Extreme Energy’s other activities here. They have not only stalked FERC members but also blockaded the offices of the Democrat National Committee Offices, hijacked the stage from U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz at the Virginia Energy Forum, assembled disruption teams, shut down bank branches and taken several other actions that can only be described as extremist. They don’t even tell you who they are on their website (for obvious reasons) but do list their “endorsers,” a list of equally radical rag-tag useful idiot enterprises that do the bidding of the Park and Rockefeller families.
This is who Bob Howarth has chosen to associate with these days. He’s now fully revealed himself as the radical advocate he always was. He’s still on the Cornell faculty, though, where it costs $67,613 to send your kid to school for one year. Think about that.