New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo shocked the media last year by declaring that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, was too dangerous for the Empire State. He based his decision on a 184-page report that relied on misinformation peddled by researchers with ties to environmental activists, according to a new report.
“[T]he Cuomo administration’s report relies on highly questionable sources, including research papers with strong ties to the fringe activists who helped hasten the ban in New York,” according to a new report by the oil industry-backed group Energy In Depth (EID).
“Yet these same sources were misrepresented as purveyors and curators of ‘bona fide’ science by Cuomo officials,” EID reports.
In December 2014, Dr. Howard Zucker, acting New York health commissioner, released his long-delayed report on fracking, which predictably came to the conclusion that the well-stimulation method was not proven to be safe. Zucker famously said, “Would I let my child play in a field nearby? My answer is no.” (Zucker forgot to mention he was unmarried and had no children.)
But EID notes that Zucker’s 184-page report has some serious flaws. For starters, the research the Cuomo administration relied upon included “reports that were financed and produced almost entirely by professional opposition groups.”
For example, the “Global Community Monitor” (GCM), a paper that was touted by Zucker, was authored by researchers with explicit ties to environmental groups. Not only that, all three peer-reviewers of the study “failed to disclose their personal opposition to shale development,” according to EID.
One peer-reviewer, Sandra Steingraber, literally co-founded the group New Yorkers Against Fracking.
Steingraber says (with a straight face) she’s unbiased when it comes to fracking, but she was recently caught on a phone conference with Maryland anti-fracking activists saying “we have to create the narrative [laughs] for the data.”
“You’ve got a lot of science, but now you have to take it like a Gladiator and go into the political arena with it,” Steingraber told activists in audio obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“We can’t hold back when we’re accused by industry of not being objective because we’re being advocates,” she said. “Those two things are actually not opposed to each another.”
EID notes that environmental activists with the Health and Environmental Funders Network (HEFN) and the Sustainable Markets Foundation (SMF) had financial ties to the GCM paper to the tune of $3.7 million. These groups also had financial ties to left-wing media outlets “including InsideClimate News, Grist and National Public Radio” and exceeding $2.2 million.
“This research and media coverage directly benefited campaign organizations that have received in excess of $16 million from the HEFN and SMF to build the political case for banning shale development in New York,” EID found in its report.
Fracking involves injecting water, sand and some chemicals deep into underground shale formations to release vast reserves of oil and natural gas. Activists have been trying to tie fracking to groundwater contamination and poor air quality for years — so far unsuccessfully.
The Obama administration has recently unveiled regulations aimed at regulating fracking on federal lands along with new wastewater rules for fracking wells. Obama has also proposed a plan to regulate methane emissions from fracking.
The administration has not come out against fracking, as key cabinet officials have expressed their support for the well-stimulation process. Some conservatives, however, believe that while Obama’s rhetoric on fracking is favorable, his regulatory actions against the industry tell a different story.
“The Obama administration’s hydraulic fracturing rule is a solution in search of a problem,” said Tom Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research. “States are already regulating hydraulic fracturing on public lands and have done so successfully for years without federal interference.”
“The federal government has no business interfering with states’ rights to regulate energy development,” Pyle said.
Here is EID’s report:
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