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Reviewer of UB Frack Study Backs Off

Scott Anderson, a senior policy advisor for the Environmental Defense Fund’s energy program was called on to review “Environmental Impacts During Shale Gas Drilling: Causes, Impacts and Remedies,” the first report issued by the State University of New York at Buffalo’s new Shale Resources and Society Institute.

The report was released on Tuesday (5/15). On Wednesday (5/16), Anderson posted this disclaimer.

“While I was a reviewer, this does not mean that all of my suggestions were taken or that I agree with all of the report’s opinions and conclusions,” he writes.

It’s been a rough couple of days for the fledgeling institute. First they come out touting their “peer reviewed” paper. Next, they get jeers for hiring corporate shills to author a slanted PR piece. Now, one of the “peers” is distancing himself from the whole sordid mess.

Now, even the Buffalo News is admitting that something might be rotten.

  • Jim_Holstun

    Dr. John Martin, one of the report’s co-writers, says in a UB press release that “The report was peer reviewed, a process of self-regulation to
    maintain standards and provide greater credibility, by . . . [among others] Scott Anderson, senior policy advisor with the Environmental Defense Fund’s Energy Program.” But “peer review” usually entails a reviewer signing off on the soundness of the scholarship being published, and Mr. Anderson certainly does not do that.

    Indeed, he says “several of the opinions and conclusions in the report are questionable.” He lists three of these, and they are devastating for the report as a whole, since they get at the very meat of its pro-fracking argument:

    “The idea that a violation isn’t an ‘environmental’ concern if it is a
    violation of ‘paperwork’ or ‘preventative’ regulations and didn’t
    result in immediate, actual harm to the environment.”Characterizing the rate of environmental violations (narrowly
    defined) as ‘low’ in the first eight months of 2011 when, even using a
    narrow definition of environmental violation, violations were found at
    26.5% of the wells drilled.”The suggestion that the present regulatory program is effective
    because the incidence of ‘environmental violations’ (narrowly defined)
    declined from 58.2% of wells in 2008 to 26.5% of wells in 2011.”

    It sounds like time for a revised edition.

  • Let’s also remember that Scott Anderson works for the Environmental Defense Fund – a very anti-fracking group.  Just because someone has an opinion that you like, doesn’t mean it’s valid or without pre-formed bias.

    This as many issues need to be decided by facts, not rhetoric.  Both sides are in a battle of rhetoric here.  Enviros saying it’s the next nuke and the gas biz saying it’s as safe as breathing.  I’d imagine the truth is somewhere in between.

    Until we get to examining facts, this whole argument is useless and misleading to the public.  We need scientific study, even if you don’t like the conclusions.

  • john pfeffer

    Let’s also remember that due to paperwork violations, or the mere lack of paperwork, that we have limited knowledge about what is buried in the State Licensed burial grounds at the West Valley Nuclear site.  Let’s also remember that the disposal solution to the radioactive waste and reprocessing byproducts was to simply leave it in the ground, a decision we are now spending billions on cleaning up.