|Is the NPR series on fracking missing the mark?|
Original story from May 17:
While the NPR series on fracking states that it is trying to establish why there aren't answers about the pollutants produced by shale drilling operations, the tone of the articles is one that seems to reflect only disappointment at the inability to produce any conclusive evidence of fracking contaminating the surrounding areas.
Each article in the series has tended to be built to a large extent around the statements of residents near drilling operations who are accusing the energy companies of polluting. A lot of attention is given to a couple of studies that suggest increased air pollution from drilling operations, but only cursory mention is given to the fact that these studies have been discredited scientifically by other sources.
The whole series carries the tone of a group attempting to prove that the fracktivists are correct rather than objectively investigate and find the truth. To illustrate this, here is how one article in the series opened:
Living in the middle of a natural gas boom can be pretty unsettling. The area around the town of Silt, Colo., used to be the kind of sleepy rural place where the tweet of birds was the most you would hear. Now it's hard to make out the birds because of the rumbling of natural gas drilling rigs.Another article:
Kay Allen had just started work, and everything seemed quiet at the Cornerstone Care community health clinic in Burgettstown, Pa. But things didn't stay quiet for long.Another, probably the most objective and well-researched article of the series:
"All the girls, they were yelling at me in the back, 'You gotta come out here quick. You gotta come out here quick,' " said Allen, 59, a nurse from Weirton, W.Va.
Allen rushed out front and knew right away what all the yelling was about. The whole place reeked — like someone had spilled a giant bottle of nail polish remover.
"I told everybody to get outside and get fresh air. So we went outside. And Aggie said, 'Kay, I'm going to be sick.' But before I get in, to get something for her to throw up in, she had to go over the railing," she said.
Nothing like this had ever happened in the 20 years that Allen has been at the clinic. After about 45 minutes, she thought the coast was clear and took everyone back inside.
"It was fine. But the next thing you know, they're calling me again. There was another gust. Well, the one girl, Miranda, she was sitting at the registration place, and you could tell she'd had too much of it. And Miranda got overcome by that and she passed out," she said.
Quite a few of the 225 people who live in Dish, Texas, think the nation's natural gas boom is making them sick.To see further what I'm talking about, read this article from NPR's series. Then read the update from EID along with their original story about Cornerstone Care in PA.
They blame the chemicals used in gas production for health problems ranging from nosebleeds to cancer.
And the mayor of Dish, Bill Sciscoe, has a message for people who live in places where gas drilling is about to start: "Run. Run as fast as you can. Grab up your family and your belongings, and get out."
But scientists say it's just not clear whether pollutants from gas wells are hurting people in Dish or anywhere else. What is clear, they say, is that the evidence the town has presented so far doesn't have much scientific heft.
Another example: NPR's article here. Then the response from EID is here.
Of course, EID is far from objective as well. But it just seems that there is little real investigation being done with these NPR reports, and rather than providing any answers to these questions about the impacts of fracking on public health the series is only re-telling the ghost stories of drilling opponents and vaguely regurgitating old reports and studies.
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