Sloppy Reporting of a Flawed Yale Health Study

Yale Health Study - natural gasDouglas Berkley
Business Dev. Rep. – Transportation & Oil Field Services Company
Publisher: Tri-State Shale Traveler

A Yale health study attracting the interest of fractivists is not only deeply flawed but is also being sloppily reported. Why does this happen?

Yesterday, while reading a piece on the latest (misleading) study from Yale saying that those living closest to wells suffer from more health symptoms than those living further away, I noticed a glaring mistake. In literally the first sentence of the article, the writer talked about wells drilled using “fracking” as being the potential cause of these health problems that may or may not be related to drilling.

Sloppy Reporting

Wells are not drilled using fracking! Horizontal drilling, paired with hydraulic fracturing, is leading to the boom we are witnessing today. Drilling and fracking are two different and distinct processes and stages in the cycle of completing a well. Drilling the well can take a month, fracking takes 2-3 days. And, let’s not even mention injection wells here. That’s another completely separate process that gets lumped in as part of “fracking.”

Yale Health Study

So what drives this misinformed view? Is it laziness or sloppy reporting? Simply asking someone in the industry could get them guidance on these terms and processes. That doesn’t seem to hard to me. Are folks looking to push a particular agenda?

Perhaps. I’m sure that some are, but not all. My guess is that it’s to keep things simple and tie the whole process basically to one nasty-sounding word…fracking. I wish the press would go to greater lengths to explain each of these processes and to tell the true story of happenings in the cycle of a well being drilled and starting to produce gas. People are capable of “getting it,” and we can move away from a derisive word created only to cause harm to the industry.

Editor’s Note: Doug makes a great point. There is far too much knee jerk reporting intended to simply perpetuate what is a perceived fracking controversy that reporters are anxious to fuel in the interest of creating, well, interest in what they have to say. Reporters could have easily investigated, for example, and found out what Katie Brown at Energy In Depth learned in short order. Her post on the subject is a must read. She points out the following:

  • The study does no more than speculate natural gas development might be one possible explanation for what it found (bear in mind Washington County is heavily coal mined). Meanwhile, US Department of Energy, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and the Colorado Department of Public Health (CDPH) air and water quality studies find no credible links.
  • As the New Haven Register reported, “The study does not claim that the wells cause the health problems, which requires further investigation to determine.”

  • The data collection process was at least partially outsourced it to an activist group, whose sole purpose is to stop oil and gas development, which paid people to give them information. The report itself was funded by the Heinz Foundation and Claneil Foundation, which have given millions of dollars to anti-fracking groups like PennEnvironment and activist Anthony Ingraffea’s Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy (PSEHE).  The activist group involved, the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, has also received millions in Heinz and Claneil money.

  • The report relies on a number of anti-fracking studies that have been thoroughly debunked such as the report led by Lisa McKenzie of the Colorado School of Public Health which used out-of-date emission data and inflated exposure times by 900 percent in order to come to the conclusion of high risk. In response to concern about air quality, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) installed air quality monitors at well sites.

The Yale study, in other words, is another piece of mercenary junk science with no independence whatsoever, inextricably linked to the special interest agendas of the Heinz Endowment and its Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project. Yet, few, if any of the news reports identify these fatal flaws. Journalism is all but dead, which, of course, is Doug’s point.

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12 thoughts on “Sloppy Reporting of a Flawed Yale Health Study

  1. Just couldn’t what to continue the hype to discredit this report ! Doesn’t matter more will come ! eventually the public will realize HVHF is extremely harmful and a huge nuisance to those near by !

  2. “while reading a piece”

    Care to give us a link to the alleged piece of sloppy reporting?

    Also, go to “Doubt Is Their Product” for a good read on junk science.


    I could take a stab and guess that its likely the reporter isn’t familiar enough with the topic if the first sentence had an error.

    In NYC the error seems to be both ignorance and manipulation by sources. For instance, consider that some of the people in the following videos are quoted as experts (whether on fracking, pipelines or energy policy) or alternately are published as “reporters”.

    Ps Tom—maybe you will appreciate that it is the one and only Minister Erik as the first speaker in that video.

  4. What so many call science today is simple reported anecdotal events. No peer review, cherry picked data, all in the name of yellow journalism. the green movement has no conscience and little intellect. So much feeling and emotion to stoke fear, instead of objective factual data to support theory. So sad that this is ever called “science”. Might as well just start believing in creationism.

  5. Thanks Doug and Tom and those who have also commented. The academics behind this manipulation are not sophisticated enough to realize how badly they are harming the reputations of legitimate researchers. The media representatives who are manipulating public opinion have already, as Tom notes, essentially killed journalism. People like Bill F and Clifford Goudey, who is bound to show up here any minute, are just doing the bidding of rich puppeteers. Their opinions are rendered meaningless by their clownish parroting of the Josh Fox line.

  6. Scott– I don’t know about the rich puppeteers but I’ve certainly lost faith in what I would consider the environmental world. I’m profoundly disturbed by that too. The reporting and the activism in NYC in particular has produced people who make no sense when they talk. We have people described as militiant survivalists by their occupy friends basically pretending to speak for whole communities who don’t require anyone to speak for them. We right now have people filming themselves giving speeches about a pipeline project being built based on no fact whatsoever. And we have other people egging them on in that somehow their “direct action” which is completely misguided will be an example of resistance.

    We have people running around with flyers attempting to educate people on a number of projects and most of them haven’t read an iota of material on any and have chosen instead to simply make stuff up. Literally. And that has been going on for two full years for a pipeline project, that frankly doesn’t even deliver a whole lot of incremental gas supply, not a well.

    We have wiccans doing apple blessings to ward off an LNG project that they think is for export which is described in a ton of paperwork as a delivery project. It is complete hysteria.

    • By “rich puppeteers” I’m talking about the Park Foundation of Ithaca and the Heinz Foundation of Pittsburgh, who fund some portion of every single thing you described in your response. I have friends in NYC who have fallen for the totally unethical Sane Energy line of bull, from the “radon in my apartment” lie to the “devastation of New Jersey’s wetlands” lie. It is amazing to me that people like this are doing the bidding of their celebrity and old-money overlords, but want to pretend they are offering the “truth.” Shame on them. But good for you in being able to separate the wheat from the chaff.

  7. The sad thing about the frackivist inconvenient truth church is they cannot seem to reconcile the fact the most efficient energy production means will ultimately win !
    That has always been Natural Gas and will always be. The problem was limited supply until shale came along as a viable source for natural gas. 1700 megawatts of Natural gas powered GE jenbacher engines heat greenhouses in Holland , capture the CO2 for plant growth enhancement and provide pollution free electricity night or day to tens of thousands of homes. Renewables at best are only a means to save the use of NATURAL GAS as natural gas power plants have the ability of rapid starts and stops for production that coal and nuclear don’t .

  8. It’s amazing that the thousands of landowners whose land has been drilled and are now producing abundant natural gas aren’t railing against fracking. Instead, it’s all of the self proclaimed environmentalists, who don’t even live in the states that are producing natural gas that are perpetrating all of the lies.Junktivists, if you will.

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