The latest junk science to be put out there by the funders of the fractivist delay game is authored by an “expert” disqualified by the courts in the past.
Whenever a new junk science study comes out as part of the fractivist delay game, we’re sure to get readers on either this site or our Facebook page singing it to the rafters and proclaiming what a game changer it is. Their euphoria is invariably short-lived, though. There are enough smart people out there now to quickly analyze and discern the flaws and explain them in such a way as the truth gets a fair hearing.
Such is the case with a new “study” lead authored by Dr. David Carpenter. Entitled “Air concentrations of volatile compounds near oil and gas production: a community-based exploratory study,” it has already created these headlines:
It didn’t take Energy In Depth long to find the flaws in this one, but there’s more.
Dr. David Carpenter Not New to the Fractivist Delay Game
Energy In Depth’s Katie Brown, a PhD herself, did a fabulous review of the Carpenter report here. Read the whole thing, but let me summarize a few key points she makes:
- The study, such as it is, was “spearheaded by Global Community Monitor (GCM), a well-known anti-fracking organization” that promoted the idea fracking causes cancer before it caused this report to be prepared.
- Denny Larson, the GCM executive director and one of the authors of the study, long ago described its mission by saying “Our focus is on organizing. We use science, but only in the service of organizing.”
- Contributors to the study included ArkansasFracking.org, Athens County Fracking Action Network, Breathe Easy Susquehanna County, Frack Free Mahoning Valley and numerous other fractivist groups.
- The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment looked into GCM’s report and concluded: “There are some serious technical deficiencies in the study.”
- The methods employed for this study are flawed, environmental officials having indicated the collection bags themselves could contain high levels of the very compounds the report claims to have discovered.
- According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, studies to determine acute risk are “generally based on 1-hour exposure and not grab samples” used in this study.
- GCM makes no effort whatsoever to determine where the chemicals were actually coming from.
- Numerous other studies have employed direct air measurements from air monitors to determine appropriate exposure rates and found there’s no credible threat to public health from shale gas development.
Again, read Katie’s post in its entirety to see just how flawed this report is, but we did a little further research on the lead author, Dr. David Carpenter, and it explains a lot.
Carpenter, like his fellow author Denny Larson, had a fractivist mindset long before doing this study. He joined with the NRDC, for example, for a fractivist gathering in Albany in 2012 to urge Governor Andrew Cuomo to restart the process of developing regulations as part of the fractivist delay game:
On Tuesday, a group of health professionals led by David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany’s School of Public Health, launched a new initiative on the health risks of shale gas development. They urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo not to commit to a 90-day extension but instead allow the proposed regulations to expire and draft new ones based on a comprehensive health impact assessment.
Carpenter Opposed to Lots of Things
Carpenter also has a history of opposing things – lots of things. These include:
- The use of WI-FI in public schools.
- Backyard burn barrels.
- Wireless smart meters.
- Electric power lines.
- Farmed Atlantic Salmon.
- Cellular phones.
- Sanitary landfills.
- Doppler radar.
- Dry cleaning.
- Crude oil transport.
- Fuel-fired power plants.
- Electric blankets.
Carpenter’s opposition to these various elements of daily living has frequently exhibited a familiar pattern. He has a tendency to make accusations which effectively require those who might disagree to prove a negative. He says with regard to to smart meters, for example, “There is no justification from the State Department that Smart Meters have no adverse health effects,” discounting those studies that have been done as “industry studies.”
Frankly, I have my own strong reservations about the smart meter concept from a political perspective because it has the potential for abuse by climate change zealots in positions of power. Nonetheless, I also recognize one can never prove a negative and those who suggest it be done usually have big agendas of their own and little evidence to support them.
Carpenter is certainly a man with agendas. Here is what Steven Milloy of JunkScience.com had to say about a salmon study conducted by Carpenter (emphasis added):
David Carpenter, the study leader who gave many interviews to the media last week, has crusaded against PCBs for years. From the Hudson River-General Electric controversy to the Anniston, Ala.–Monsanto controversy, Carpenter has consistently tried to foment panic about PCBs. He’s a well-known health-scare hyperventilator who likes to masquerade as an impartial “expert” from the University of Albany’s Institute for Health and the Environment.
Another study author, Jeffrey Foran, is associated with the eco-activist group, Citizens for a Better Environment, which is currently waging a cleanup crusade over PCBs in Wisconsin’s Fox River and Green Bay.
The study’s roots in eco-extremism extend to the radical Environmental Working Group (search). EWG released a small but similarly hysterical report last summer about PCB levels in farmed salmon.
Coincidentally (or not), the same Canadian laboratory tested the salmon for EWG’s report and the salmon for last week’s study.
Last week’s study was funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts – the piggy bank for many extreme environmental groups and eco-activist “researchers.”
Again, coincidentally or not, Pew also supports EWG.
The larger context here is that Pew opposes, and is doing what it can to stop, fish farming – including giving Carpenter $2.5 million for his “study.”
How Carpenter Does Science
This is how Carpenter does science and the courts have not been impressed. Last year the State of Washington Supreme Court found the following with regard to his expert witness testimony against a Puget Sound Energy electrical substation (emphasis added):
¶24 PSE invites us, alternatively, to affirm the exclusion of Carpenter’s testimony under ER 702. The trial court’s Frye order excluding the testimony found that Carpenter’s testimony was unreliable and therefore failed the helpfulness requirement of ER 702. While the parties have framed this appeal as involving a Frye issue, we believe the trial court correctly understood PSE’s objections to Carpenter’s methods as challenging his testimony under ER 702. We affirm the trial court’s decision to exclude Carpenter’s testimony on these grounds.
¶25 Carpenter failed to follow proper methodology, rendering his conclusions unreliable and therefore inadmissible. Carpenter did not consider all relevant data as basic epidemiology required. Carpenter discounted entire epidemiological and toxicological studies, especially the newer epidemiological studies. Carpenter failed to consider the later, better studies about the links between EMF and health harms, seriously tainting his conclusions because epidemiology is an iterative science relying on later studies to refine earlier studies in order to reach better and more accurate conclusions. Carpenter refused to account for the data from the toxicological studies, which epidemiological methodology requires unless the evidence for the link between exposure and disease is unequivocal and strong, which is not the case here. Carpenter also selectively sampled data within one of the studies he used, taking data indicating an EMF-illness link and ignoring the larger pool of data within the study that showed no such link. Carpenter’s treatment of this data created an improper false impression about what the study actually showed.
¶26 The trial court possessed the discretion to find that Carpenter’s failure to follow proper methodology rendered his epidemiological conclusions unreliable and unhelpful to the jury as a matter of law. Carpenter’s admission that he selectively used data created the appearance that he attempted to reach a desired result, rather than allow the evidence to dictate his conclusions. The trial court did not act in a manifestly unreasonable manner in excluding his testimony, and we will not disturb its decision.
That’s pretty devasting, especially coming from one of the five most liberal state supreme courts in the country. That’s not all, either. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, in a 2006 decision regarding the release of PCBs by General Motors in the operation of its die casting plant in Bedford, Indiana. Here’s an excerpt from the Washington Legal Foundation’s analysis of that case (emphasis added):
David Carpenter, M.D. is Director of the Institute for Health and Environment and Professor of Environmental Health Sciences and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Albany, where he was the founding Dean of the School of Public Health. He is not, and never has been, a licensed physician. Dr. Carpenter was engaged by plaintiffs to assess the need for medical monitoring, and to testify regarding the components and cost of a proper medical monitoring program.
First, the court found unreliable Dr. Carpenter’s opinion that the range of plaintiffs’ blood serum PCB levels established that plaintiffs had been exposed to “higher than ‘usual’ levels of PCBs.” Dr. Carpenter based his opinion upon a comparison of plaintiffs’ blood serum PCB levels to mean blood serum PCB levels reported by the Agencies for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (“ATSDR”). The court criticized Dr. Carpenter’s reliance upon the ATSDR, because Dr. Carpenter admitted that he failed to carefully read the study upon which the ATSDR’s mean blood serum level was based. An examination of that study revealed that the plaintiffs’ blood serum PCB levels were well within the range of levels detected in the underlying study. Because Dr. Carpenter had relied solely on the mean blood serum level reported by the ATSDR, but ignored the range of such levels, the court found that he had misapplied the results of the underlying study. This resulted in a methodological flaw that rendered unreliable and inadmissible his opinion that medical monitoring was necessary.
Additionally, the court found that, while Dr. Carpenter had extensive research and academic experience, he was not eligible to diagnose or prescribe the testing or treatment he was recommending as the components of a medical monitoring program because he was not licensed to practice medicine. He had no experience in the design or implementation of such a program on his own, although he had offered advice regarding other medical monitoring programs. Thus, the court found that he lacked sufficient expertise to testify to the design and cost of a medical monitoring program.
A Health-Scare Hyperventilator Funded by the Usual Suspects
These court decisions suggest the lead author of this latest weapon in the fractivist delay game has earned his moniker as “health-scare hyperventilator.”
His previous Pew Foundation funded research on the dangers of farmed salmon also got debunked and here’s some background on that courtesy of the Heartland Institute:
“Pew’s tactics have become bitterly controversial in North America,” asserted the January 23, 2004 West Highland (Scotland) Free Press. “They have adopted a philosophy of paying for research and journalism out of their bottomless resources in order to influence public opinion towards the causes to which they are committed…”
The Free Press remains incensed about Pew’s questionable motives and tactics, as noted in a September 10, 2004 editorial: “Far from being an independent, uncommitted organization, Pew worked as publicists and financers for militant ‘green’ groupings across the world. … The level of incompetence involved in the research process was awesome–they did not know, it transpires, where the salmon they were testing came from. They did not even know whether it was wild or farmed.
“Dr. David Carpenter himself has admitted that Pew Charitable Trust were on a mission. ‘There may be some legitimacy,’ he said, ‘in saying the reason they chose to fund this study was that they had another agenda well beyond the health effects.’
“We could not have put it better ourselves,” the editorial concluded.
Sound familiar? This takes us to the funding of the latest Carpenter study. The lead funder, it appears, was the V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation, the same group that, according to their 990 return, has funded 350.org, Environment America (the fake photo people), EarthJustice, the Sierra Club, the Center for Environmental Health (a study contributor who received $100,000 in “support for the project to end the toxic impacts of fracking”) and numerous other fractivist entities with specific anti-fracking agendas.
They’ve even funded the extreme-radical CELDF “rights of nature” project. Their own agenda, they say, is to fund projects oriented toward “the urgency of dealing with climate change, unsustainable consumption, and loss of biodiversity.” Unsurprisingly, they share facilities and services with Rockefeller Brothers Fund at this 475 Riverside Drive address in New York City:
Yeah, that “unsustainable consumption” is a real problem, wouldn’t you say? Built with money donated by John D. Rockefeller, this yellow ivory tower is the location of the folks behind the junk science. David Carpenter is just another weapon in their arsenal and his latest work is just another case of “hyper-scare hyperventilation” designed to fit their agenda – the fractivist delay game.
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