Researcher behind NY Shale Ban Further Reveals Anti-Fracking Bias

The lead author of a study cited by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration to justify a ban on hydraulic fracturing is now repeating debunked claims about the regulation of the oil and natural gas industry, raising further questions about the activist nature of the research behind the ban.

Dr. David Carpenter, known for employing dubious research practices, has recently come under scrutiny for failing to follow well-established academic standards.  A newly released EID white paper sheds light on how, as the author of a recent report maligning fracking, Carpenter did not disclose potential conflicts of interest. Referring to Carpenter, EID’s paper notes:

“A sixth author spent years lobbying against shale development through a group called Concerned Health Professionals of New York, and even penned a May 2014 letter defending the state’s six year ‘de facto moratorium’ and demanding ‘New York State take a leadership role in the nation by announcing a formal moratorium.’”

Now, in a new interview, Carpenter charges that oil and natural gas development is exempt from federal regulations governing air and water quality:

“Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at SUNY Albany says the state needs to act now because the federal government has failed to regulate the industry.

‘They don’t have to abide by the clean air act. They don’t have to abide by the clean water act; they can release radioactivity much greater than it’s [sic] allowed from a nuclear power plant,’ said Carpenter.”

The Oil and Natural Gas Industry is Subject to the CAA and CWA

The claim that oil and natural gas development is exempt from the Clean Air Act (CAA) or the Clean Water Act (CWA) is patently false. As EID has pointed out before, the oil and natural gas industry is regulated under both of these laws.  A report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in September 2012 clearly states that oil and natural gas developers are required to comply with no fewer than eight federal regulations. From that report:

“As with conventional oil and gas development, requirements from eight federal environmental and public health laws apply to unconventional oil and gas development. For example, the Clean Water Act (CWA) regulates discharges of pollutants into surface waters.  Among other things, CWA requires oil and gas well site operators to obtain permits for discharges of produced water – which includes fluids used for hydraulic fracturing, as well as water the occurs naturally in oil- or gas-bearing formations – to surface waters.”

The report goes on to cite the specific federal environmental and public health laws that govern the development of oil and natural gas, which include the Clean Air Act (CCA).

“The eight federal environmental and public health laws are: the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA); Clean Water Act (CWA); Clean Air Act (CAA); Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA); Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA); Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA); Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA); and Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).”

As EID has previously highlighted, the CAA grants the Environmental Protection Agency authority to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) but allows for states to be the regulators to attain the NAAQS.

Wrong on Radiation

Carpenter’s assertion that oil and gas developers “can release radioactivity much greater than it’s [sic] allowed from a nuclear power plant” is yet another misstatement. In fact, a recent study by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection addressed this very topic. Called “the most comprehensive radiological study of the oil and gas industry ever conducted,” the peer-reviewed study found that:

“There is little or limited potential for radiation exposure to the public and workers from the development, completion, production, transmission, processing, storage, and end use of natural gas.”


Carpenter’s comments are not surprising considering his previous statements show he distrusts everyday things such as wifi, salmon, and sushi. He also authored a study claiming health dangers exist from “powerlines, electrical wiring, appliances and hand-held devices; and from wireless technologies (cell and cordless phones, cell towers, ‘smart meters’, WI-FI, wireless laptops, wireless routers, baby monitors, and other electronic devices).”

His fringe positions on everyday items aside, Carpenter’s research was held up during a Dec. 17 press conference by acting New York health commissioner Howard Zucker as an example of the “bona fide scientific literature.”  Now his latest comments reveal a willingness to ignore basic facts, further revealing the anti-shale tilt of the “research” used to justify the New York fracking ban.

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