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Hydraulic Fracturing: A Threat to Public Health? (Earthworks vs. the scientific method)

By Steve Everley -- October 26, 2012

A new report from the environmental group Earthworks suggests that shale gas development, including hydraulic fracturing, “risks public health” in the state of Pennsylvania. In addition to the numerous problems with the report itself, a larger issue is passing anecdotal evidence off as hard science.

This trick has clearly emerged among opponents as a way to “counter” what most would consider a conclusive body of evidence confirming the safety of developing oil and natural gas from shale.

Study Problems

Uni Blake, a toxicologist who studies health issues relating to shale development, has fleshed out the main problem with Earthworks’ latest report (which could also be applied to a Cornell veterinarians’study” from earlier this year): findings of a subjective nature that rely on individuals’ recollections of symptoms.