A recent Wall Street Journal article points out that opponents of natural gas development frequently use bad science to support their claims.
To make the argument against drilling, adversaries blame everything from breast cancer to air pollution on Marcellus development. These claims are as shocking as they are misleading, and are all based on a common flaw – a complete lack of factual supporting evidence. Though many studies have been done to show that these parties have no ground to stand on, they continue to ignore the proof and stand by their misinformation.
One such claim comes from “Gasland” director, Josh Fox, and other opposing environmental groups, suggesting a correlation between drilling and breast cancer, specifically in the areas touched by the Barnett Shale in north Texas nearly a decade ago. But extensive research from the Texas Cancer Registry and the Dallas-based Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation found no such spike in those counties and went even further to say that there is no definitive answer as to whether environmental factors play a role on breast cancer at all. Fox’s claim, on the other hand, had absolutely no valid support.
To put claims of water pollution to rest, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority ran tests on the constantly monitored state water supply to find that the river water was not impacted by fracking whatsoever.
Addressing yet another claim made by those opposed to Marcellus development – that drilling threatens air pollution – the article cites data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which shows that shale gas is turning large plants away from coal and contributing to cleaner air.
This information is still reaching the public despite all of the proof showing that these are not valid concerns. The research exists, yet it is being disregarded by Marcellus development opposition.
Mark Lubell, Director of the Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior at the University of California, Davis said there is a psychological phenomenon influencing this debate called “motivated reasoning,” whereby shale gas protesters are blind to science and committed to their point of view regardless of how the evidence might stack up against them.
Regardless of where you stand in the shale gas debate, everyone needs to take a step back and consider the evidence.