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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Recent Studies Popular Among Anti-Drillers Have Hidden Conflicts of Interest

From the Casper Star-Tribune:
Recently, the Star-Tribune ran an article that suggests toxic air emissions are being released from shale gas wells on the basis of a research paper involving a Wyoming resident, Deb Thomas. 
To the Star-Tribune’s credit, the article does explain that Thomas is as a “longtime activist,” but there’s so much more to the story. In fact, all six of that particular research paper’s authors were activists who failed to disclose their bias to the public and the scientific community, which goes against at least four codes of scientific ethics. 
For instance, Thomas declared in the report that she worked for the Powder River Basin Resource Council, but she did not disclose her role as the executive director of an anti-fracking group called ShaleTest, of which Josh Fox, the director of Gasland, is an “adviser.” The Star-Tribune also quotes David Carpenter, another one of the paper’s authors, who declared he had no competing interests. But Carpenter never mentioned that he worked for Concerned Health Professionals of New York, a group that has aggressively lobbied for a ban on fracking in New York, even signing a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) demanding a moratorium on fracking. 
The results of the study itself rest on a number of samples gathered by volunteers “trained” by Thomas and other activists in buckets lined with plastic. This is a method that Colorado regulators have said has “some serious technical deficiencies,” to say the least. 
One would expect those “technical deficiencies” to be pointed out in the report’s peer review process -- except that the peer reviewers were also anti-fracking activists who didn’t disclose their bias. In fact, one of them, Sandra Steingraber (who declared definitively, “I have no competing interests”), is the co-founder of New Yorkers Against Fracking.
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