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.
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.”
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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