EPA stacks the frack deck

EPA has an idea: Let’s convene a panel of “experts” from which we can solicit advice as part of our upcoming study on the safety and performance of hydraulic fracturing. But let’s make sure to populate that panel with folks we know are outspoken critics of the technology in question. Fox, meet hen house.

The list released by EPA last month is 82 folks long – but two names in particular jump out upon first review. Theo Colborn and Robert Howarth, two fervent critics of HF—were placed on the list of potential panelists for EPA’s peer-review panel.

Colborn, a zoologist, earns her living fronting a group called the “Endocrine Disruption Exchange,” a non-profit receiving funds for research attempting to link HF to ADHD and obesity. Seriously. As for Howarth— when he’s not picking up a mic and attacking HF at anti-drilling rallies— is a professor at Cornell University.  He wrote a draft report in April claiming shale gas production could emit the same amount of emissions as production and usage of coal. In a letter sent to EPA this week, the Independent Petroleum Association of America said Howarth’s report was “riddled with errors.”

The letter also addressed EPA’s consideration of stolid HF critics for the panel— perhaps addressing Colborn and Howarth indirectly:

“Unfortunately, a number of nominees’ past comments betray a strong and unambiguous antipathy toward shale development in general, and hydraulic fracturing in particular.”

The fact of the matter is, EPA needs to stop playing politics with HF—a technology that made the United States the world’s largest natural gas producer and destroyed our dependency on foreign natural gas sources before it even began.  It’s in the interest of all Americans for EPA to have a fair and balanced selection of unbiased experts with real knowledge of the issues surrounding the HF debate.

If the EPA fracas continues, you might as well have Red Sox fans doing the Yankees’ annual scouting report.  Both outcomes would be equally absurd.

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