Another biased report on oil

What answer did you have in mind? Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.
What answer did you have in mind? Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Previously mentioned an agenda-driven research project that was unsuccessful in finding any ground water contamination caused by fracking. Said report will intentionally not be publicized, according to the lead researcher.

Now a report from Duke University looks at above ground spills of brine water and concludes there is “widespread” contamination of water and soil across North Dakota. Been holding this post for while. May as well publish it.

KFYR TV reports on 4/27: Duke University Conducts Water Contamination Study in ND.

The health department in the state says 1% or 2% of the 3900 spills which have been reported require long-term cleanup. Let me translate that: any spill, even of a few barrels, is required to be reported. Of those spills reported, 98% or 99% are immediately contained and cleaned up. Somewhere between 40 and 80 require ongoing efforts.

The researchers looked at four spill locations.


The article quotes the professor from Duke University who is listed as the lead researcher. The professor declares the research assumed those four incidents are representative of every spill in the state.

Just as a guess, that is a really bad methodological approach for research. I’m not a researcher, but I will make a wild guess that extrapolating the worst situations to every incident is not a particularly valid research technique. I don’t think 9/11 is representative of every day in the aviation industry.

Rob Port gives more background on 4/27: Fracking is Not Contaminating Water in North Dakota.

Keep in mind the concept that if research is funded by industry we are somehow supposed to ignore the results because that somehow dictates the conclusion researchers will reach.

Mr. Port points to the press release for funding sources.  Duke University credits two organizations for funding the research: National Science Foundation and Natural Resources Defense Council. With NRDC showing up as a funder, that means there is an agenda in the funding.

If we were to apply the rules our culture currently has in play, I think that means we ought to discount as completely invalid all the results of this research project. In fact, the rules in our society indicate we are obligated to ignore every sentence of the report.

The press release also clearly states the research was limited to four sites. That is the basis for the conclusion of widespread contamination across the state.

Mr. Port reminds us of two other hit pieces, one from NBER and another from Duke University.

He points out the current report slyly shifts the goalpost in the attack on oil. Up to this point the unproven assertion is that fracking causes contamination of groundwater. The theory is that methane at 10,000 feet below the surface drifts up through solid rock into ground water 1,000 or 1,500 feet below surface.

Now the assertion is that hydraulic fracturing two miles underground is causing leaks above ground. Please don’t misunderstand, brine spills above ground are a serious issue. The problem to be addressed is pipelines and transport by trucks, not the hydraulic fracturing two miles below the surface.

His comparison:

…blaming surface brine spills on fracking is like blaming automobiles when someone spills some gasoline on the ground at a fuel station.

To make the point again, keep in mind the declared methodological of assuming that four of the worst spills are representative of every spill, regardless of whether the spill was 10 or 80 gallons or whether the spill was contained and immediately cleaned. That would be like, oh, say assuming that every paper cut accountants receive has the same threat to their lives as finding out they have lung cancer.

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