EPA decides peer review of fracking study not such a good idea

posted at 5:01 pm on June 23, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

Erika and I have been covering the Environmental Protection Agency’s, shall we say, “complicated” relationship with the truth under the Obama administration for some time now. One of the many tales coming out of that department was being featured as recently as Thursday, dealing with the widely panned study in Wyoming which finally sought to tie fracking (hydraulic fracturing) to ground water contamination. The study was due for scientific peer review, attempting to determine if the chemicals found in well water were truly the result of fracking in the area, but somehow the process kept getting delayed, over and over for a year and a half.

The EPA has extended public comment periods on the draft report three times since it came out — twice last year and again this year. Each extension delayed the peer-review plans.

At long last the wait is over. As Investors Business Daily reports, the EPA has found a solution which will surely satisfy everyone. They just won’t do it.

The Environmental Protection Agency declines to have outside experts review its study claiming water contamination from fracking in Wyoming. Why confuse an analysis based on ideology with the facts?

In 2011, the EPA released the non-peer reviewed report on Pavillion in which the agency publicly linked fracking and groundwater contamination for the first time. However, then-EPA administrator Lisa Jackson stated that there is “no proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water.”

And really, why would you? If you’re trying to get to the bottom of a complicated science and engineering problem, the last thing you want is a bunch of scientists and engineers coming along and muddying the waters. (If you’ll pardon the pun.) But in the test case cited by the study, there were some traces of chemicals in the well water! Where could they have come from? I mean, it’s not like the EPA put them there, right?

First, the contamination was found in two “monitoring wells” drilled by EPA outside of town, not in water wells that actually supply residents their water. EPA use of “dense soda ash” to drill its monitoring wells into a hydrocarbon-bearing layer probably skewed the results.

According to the industry research group Energy in Depth, “dense soda ash has a recorded pH (11.5), very similar to the level found in the deep wells, creating the possibility that the high pH recorded by EPA could have been caused by the very chemicals it used to drill its own wells.”

What the EPA report doesn’t say is that the U.S. Geological Survey has detected organic chemicals in the well water in Pavillion for at least five decades, long before fracking was done. The deepwater wells that EPA drilled are situated near a natural gas reservoir.

Encana Corp., which owns more than 100 wells near Pavillion, says it didn’t “put the natural gas at the bottom of the EPA’s deep monitoring wells. Nature did.”

Understanding full well how inappropriate it would be to laugh over this serious of a subject, I’m sorry to say that this is pretty darned funny. The study detected chemicals found in soda ash in the well they drilled using dense soda ash in the drilling process. There were traces of natural gas in the well which they drilled over a pocket of natural gas. I’m sure glad we finally elected an administration who would right the ship after kicking out all of the Republicans who hate science.

And yet it seems that this study will stand as part of the government’s body of work and be referenced when making decisions about fracking for oil, natural gas and other energy products from domestic sources. The lack of peer review will doubtless not be noted when it’s invoked. What could possibly go wrong?


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I thought ‘peer reviewed’ was all that???

It’s what members of the Cult of Gaia have been saying for decades.

Resist We Much on June 23, 2013 at 5:07 PM

Erin Brokovich for the win!

John the Libertarian on June 23, 2013 at 5:12 PM

Peer review is essential to producing good science.

Absent it, you have a fox guarding the hen house.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on June 23, 2013 at 5:13 PM

“Peer Reviewed” has been corrupted and no longer means anything in today’s pop culture science community. “Peer reviewed” has become the new buzz phrase that means we can’t prove what we are talking about, but, by golly, there are a whole bunch of us to back that unfounded position up, so there!

Johnnyreb on June 23, 2013 at 5:14 PM

“Peer Review” kinda depends on who the “Peers” are, dontcha think?

BigAlSouth on June 23, 2013 at 5:29 PM

Administration’s War on Science continues

philw1776 on June 23, 2013 at 5:36 PM

It was peer reviewed. We reviewed it with our EPA peers.

The science is settled, wingnuts.

BacaDog on June 23, 2013 at 5:36 PM

In 2011, the EPA released the non-peer reviewed report on Pavillion in which the agency publicly linked fracking and groundwater contamination for the first time.

Gubmint sponsored studies: Offer enough money and you can find someone to say whatever you want; to wit, global warming, fracking.

petefrt on June 23, 2013 at 5:40 PM

At this point, de-funding the EPA may be the only solution. It’s clearly hostile to to American taxpayers and businesses, and is really part of a fifth column whose mission is to harm the economy and destroy our rights. They don’t give a damn about the environment other than as a weapon against us.

With Obama about to announce new executive actions to do more of the same using the climate change hoax, the EPA will only expand its jihad, and do a lot more damage between now and 2016.

They need to be shut down, now. But alas, it wont happen.

RadClown on June 23, 2013 at 5:43 PM

I used to have a ground water monitoring well license from the state of Texas. While I never drilled deep water wells, the hundreds of wells that I was part of all required special precautions to avoid contaminating the well and cross-contaminating zones. We used hollow stem augers that sealed off the contamination zones while we set the screen and riser. We couldn’t use any lubricants that are used in drilling regular water wells. All of our drill cuttings had to be contained, barreled up and disposed of as hazardous waste. It looks like the EPA didn’t take any precautions to prevent contamination of the vadose or phreatic zones. This is just bad science and bad, well, everything.

DAT60A3 on June 23, 2013 at 5:45 PM

When a report is so weak it can’t pass “Pal Review,” boy, is that weak. Either that or the EPA is staffed with people so dumb they don’t realize all they have to do to get it through Peer Review is have some anonymous scientists from Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth etc. review it.

Fred 2 on June 23, 2013 at 5:47 PM

And yet it seems that this study will stand as part of the government’s body of work and be referenced when making decisions about fracking for oil, natural gas and other energy products from domestic sources.

If you believe the end justifies the means and you have absolute moral superiority, lying and deceit is noble when it advances the cause.

The ideology is evil.

petefrt on June 23, 2013 at 5:49 PM

Drill deep enough for water, eventually you WILL get to the hydrocarbon layer

WryTrvllr on June 23, 2013 at 5:58 PM

The most duplicitous administration ever. It’s not just that they don’t tell the truth, I’m beginning to believe they don’t know how to tell the truth. All of this comes from the top. The President has surrounded himself with people who think exactly like he does. It’s a pity we don’t have a free press to get on this stuff.

We really need to get a Republican back in office so Pravda and Izvestia will return to being a constitutionally protected free press and watch dog over the powers that be.

bflat879 on June 23, 2013 at 6:04 PM

“Peer Review” kinda depends on who the “Peers” are, dontcha think?

BigAlSouth on June 23, 2013 at 5:29 PM

Intelligent Design scientist fight an uphill battle against peer reviewing.

Either the evolutionist dominated publications won’t publish them, or the journals that do publish them are bashed by evolutionists for publishing “pseudo-science.”

davidk on June 23, 2013 at 6:07 PM

Carol Browner pulled similar nonsense in the Clinton EPA. She would publicize a summary of studies that was slanted the way she wanted it but would not release the actual studies saying she had to wait for the studies to be published. Take a look at what she did trying to claim fine particulate caused sudden infant death syndrome. The studies did not show this conclusion but she just kept spouting it for political purposes and used it as a basis of the PM 2.5 regulation.

KW64 on June 23, 2013 at 6:15 PM

Thank Superman/Zod people have figured this out.

WryTrvllr on June 23, 2013 at 6:19 PM

My guess is that the EPA is populated with masochists, who like being taken to court and made to look like fools.

GarandFan on June 23, 2013 at 6:20 PM

Nothing funny about this. At all.

paul1149 on June 23, 2013 at 6:22 PM

Repeating what I said on Thursday…

Cue Admiral Ackbar.

The EPA knows its claims are a bunch of shinola, so instead of endorsing the research that will prove the shinola (and thus destroy its claims), it is fixing to say the Wyoming-endorsed research that will do so was “bought and paid for by Big Oil.” That will allow the EPA to continue to seek to destroy fracking in the rest of the country with, if lieberals had a conscience, a clear conscience.

Steve Eggleston on June 20, 2013 at 7:27 PM

Steve Eggleston on June 23, 2013 at 6:40 PM

Employment Prevention Agency.

22044 on June 23, 2013 at 6:43 PM

So since the EPA won’t peer review the study, we should just declare that the “science is settled”. Works for the Left vis-a-vis climate change.

Bitter Clinger on June 23, 2013 at 6:44 PM

Employment Prevention Agency.

22044 on June 23, 2013 at 6:43 PM

….winner!
going on 4 years old…but still a winner

KOOLAID2 on June 23, 2013 at 6:56 PM

Drill deep enough for water, eventually you WILL get to the hydrocarbon layer

WryTrvllr on June 23, 2013 at 5:58 PM

… or hit soy sauce.

viking01 on June 23, 2013 at 6:56 PM

This is just bad science and bad, well, everything.

DAT60A3 on June 23, 2013 at 5:45 PM

Nice one, intended or not…

Kraken on June 23, 2013 at 7:02 PM

It matters not what the facts are. Just as with AGW, this is an ideological fight and evidence doesn’t matter. Stupid lefties– until all of us are poor, cold, sick and dependent on the government, they won’t be happy.

MTF on June 23, 2013 at 7:10 PM

So maybe a little pollution is a good thing? –Man-Made particles Lowered Hurricane Frequency

slickwillie2001 on June 23, 2013 at 7:12 PM

They could have the East Anglia group do the peer review. 100% guarantee it confirms EPA’s predetermined conclusion, and doesn’t mention the irregularities in their sampling methods.

For an encore, they could call in Michael Mann. He could even bring his hockey stick.

clear ether

eon

eon on June 23, 2013 at 7:23 PM

SCIENCE!

rogerb on June 23, 2013 at 7:30 PM

If you don’t get the results you want, ~obfuscate, demonize and dither!

profitsbeard on June 23, 2013 at 7:58 PM

….winner!
going on 4 years old…but still a winner

KOOLAID2 on June 23, 2013 at 6:56 PM

Thank you, sir! Helps me as a reminder

22044 on June 23, 2013 at 8:51 PM

EPA?

Frack ‘em!

coldwarrior on June 23, 2013 at 10:55 PM

EPA is due for a good housecleaning – as in, “Sorry, but if you’ve ever worked here even emptying the wastebaskets, you are forever ineligible for future employment.”

People fault Nixon for EPA, but if he hadn’t taken the initiative to create it, the Democratic Congress would have created a full cabinet position for it, with even more power, autonomy, and money to wield.

Adjoran on June 24, 2013 at 12:57 AM

and bad, well, everything.

DAT60A3 on June 23, 2013 at 5:45 PM

I see what you did there.

VelvetElvis on June 24, 2013 at 7:41 AM

EPA: Let’s not peer-review our reports until we pay the peers and spike the wells.

The Surgeon General has Decreed that Scientific Analysis Is Hazardous to the Health of the Environmental Movement.

Steve Z on June 24, 2013 at 9:23 AM

According to the industry research group Energy in Depth, “dense soda ash has a recorded pH (11.5), very similar to the level found in the deep wells, creating the possibility that the high pH recorded by EPA could have been caused by the very chemicals it used to drill its own wells.”

EPA very “basically” poisoned its own well with lyes.

Steve Z on June 24, 2013 at 9:29 AM