The University of Cincinnati (UC) has been in the news recently due to two studies on the impacts of oil and gas on air and water quality in Ohio. One is a yet to be published study of groundwater that found no impacts from fracking. The other was recently retracted due to bad data that initially claimed fracking could increase cancer rates through air pollution. The corrected data showed its previous conclusions to be widely inaccurate, as levels were in fact well below the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards for health concerns. Both of these studies received significant funding from taxpayers.
Now, on the heels of those two studies, one of the researchers of the retracted report, Dr. Erin Haynes, is embarking on another taxpayer-funded study, this time focusing on an injection well in Guernsey County. The new study will look at “volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde, particle matter and radioactivity levels” and “surface and drinking water samples will also be collected to be analyzed by the University of Cincinnati.”
Here are a few things about the forthcoming study that raise some red flags:
The players – who is conducting UC’s newest oil & gas study?
The lead researcher is Dr. Erin Haynes, an associate professor at the University of Cincinnati, who was also a researcher on UC’s recently retracted air quality study that exaggerated cancer risks by 725,000 percent. Unfortunately, one has to question Dr. Haynes’ motives behind this latest research. Haynes told The Daily Jeffersonian,
“What toxins go into the air? What toxins go into the water? We are looking to collect data for a period of time and then share that data.”
She added, “…once toxins, if any, are located, the follow-up study would be to determine the effects of those toxins.”
It’s worth noting that the air study that Haynes worked on, as well as the UC groundwater study, were first announced at anti-fracking events held by Carroll County Concerned Citizens (CCCC)—a group that was hand-selected to participate in the studies as well. Haynes has also participated in and presented at anti-fracking events, which leaves one to wonder whether or not she is truly an impartial scientist simply studying data.
Conducting the research alongside Haynes is retired teacher, Rusty Roberts, who previously taught physical education and “life tools such as how to vote, file taxes, and give CPR.”
Taxpayers continue to fund these studies
Roberts told County Commissioners during his recent presentation with Haynes on the study that, “This would not cost the county anything,” since it is being funded $25,000 federal grant. But it is still paid for by taxpayers—as were the other two UC studies. The UC groundwater study received a $400,000 three-year grant from the National Science Foundation and the retracted air quality study was 100 percent taxpayer funded. UC’s Center for Environmental Genetics (CEG) received federal tax dollars for this study in the form of a grant from the NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) for $47,910.
That means collectively UC has received nearly $473,000 to study the impacts of oil and gas development in the state – yet the two completed studies finding no impacts from nearby development have not been widely publicized by researchers. The groundwater study finding no contamination from fracking has yet to appear in a scientific journal a year after it was completed and the air study was only quietly retracted and corrected to show that emissions are actually very low.
One has to wonder, will the same occur in Guernsey County?