Fracking fear vs. facts
Larry Borowiec's recent letter ( “Activist hit nerve” ) is right — it does strike a nerve that activists continue to use a deeply flawed study to push the narrative that fracking kills babies.
The tactic, which was used by Ron Slabe in a recent letter ( “Study links fracking, infant mortality” ) and supported by Borowiec's letter, didn't sit too well with environmental group Resources for the Future, either. RFF recently noted that because of “problematic methodology” — most of these studies notably fail to control for other factors that might affect infant mortality rates — the study fails to prove causationthe study fails to prove causation.
Notably, a recent RFF report showed this to be a common flaw in most health studies that blame fracking for ailments, finding that they don't “provide strong evidence regarding specific health impacts.” Out of 32 prominent studies evaluated by RFF, none were found to be “high quality” and several on birth defects and childhood cancers were categorized as “low quality.”
In contrast, more than a dozen studies based on actual production-site emissions show fracking is protective of public health, while more than 28 scientific studies have shown fracking is not a major threat to drinking water.
So yes, Slabe's letter did strike a nerve — mainly because it perpetuates fear over facts.
The writer is state director for Energy In Depth (energyindepth.org), the education and research program of the Independent Petroleum Association of America.