This is interesting. Not surprising, but interesting. Popular Anti-Fracking Study Discredited by Colorado Health Department. Relevant excerpts:
“It is difficult to draw conclusions from this study, due to its design and limitations,” Dr. Larry Wolk, CDPHE’s chief medical officer, said. “We appreciate continuing research about possible public health implications that may be associated with oil and gas operations in Colorado.
“With regard to this particular study, people should not rush to judgment.”
Why? Because the study didn’t distinguish between active wells and inactive wells. It also did not distinguish between vertical, horizontal, oil or natural gas wells.
“This makes it difficult to draw conclusions on the actual exposure people may have had,” Wolk said.
Further, the researchers never considered outside factors that may have resulted in birth defects, such as drinking or smoking.
“Without considering the effect of these personal risk factors, as well as the role of genetic factors, it is very difficult to draw conclusions from this study,” Wolk said.
The researchers noted in the study that they never bothered to check where the mother lived during conception or the first trimester. This is when most birth defects occur, so not knowing what was going on in the mother’s life at that time is a significant problem in determining whether fracking was to blame.
In other words, shoddy science. A case in point; the study mentioned noted a decrease in birth defect among women who live closer to wells, a seeming contradiction that should have raised some alarms on the study’s methodology. Why?
Because contradictions don’t exist. When a seeming contradiction is found in a study of this nature, one should check their premises; one or more of them will be wrong.
Here’s the crux of this issue; there can be no absolute right or wrong answer in a policy issue of this nature. There can only be tradeoffs. There is a level of mess we will accept in order to increase our energy independence and lower the cost of energy. Worried about our chronically high unemployment rate? Stagnant tax revenues? Runaway Federal debt? Explosion of numbers on welfare? The answer is economic growth, and cheap energy is a supercharger for economic growth.
And no matter what side of any given issue you might take, relying on shoddy, self-contradictory science makes for a shoddy, self-contradictory argument.