U.S. Panel Endorses Fracking As Its Members Are Faulted for Industry Ties

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A U.S. Energy Department advisory panel has issued a qualified endorsement of the controversial shale gas exploitation technique of hydraulic fracturing, but a group of scientists charges that the panel’s recommendations are tainted because six of its seven members have current financial ties to the natural gas industry.

The panel’s report says that hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” could be a productive way of extracting natural gas if the industry follows a set of strict guidelines. These include disclosing the chemicals used in the fracking process, adopting rigorous standards for air pollution emissions from fracking wells, and monitoring nearby water supplies for contamination from fracking.

But the panel is largely silent on which state or federal agencies should regulate fracking, and whether regulators should apply to it laws such as the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) issued a letter, signed by 28 scientists from 22 universities, criticizing the panel for its industry ties, including more than $1.4 million paid to panel chairman John Deutch of MIT from 2006 to 2009.

The EWG accused the panel of conducting “advocacy-based science” and said that at a minimum Deutch should be replaced by a person with no industry ties.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

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