Monday, July 18, 2016 by Greg White
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not taken sufficient measures against methane emissions produced by the fracking industry, but why? According to an environmental watchdog group, the reason the EPA has failed to tackle fracking is because at least one EPA researcher accepted money from the oil and gas industry to cover up data centered on toxic emissions produced by fracking.
In an incendiary federal filed by the EPA’s Inspector General, the North Carolina-based group NC WARN purported that “there has been a persistent and deliberate cover-up that has prevented the agency from requiring the natural gas industry to make widespread, urgently needed and achievable reductions in methane venting and leakage (’emissions’) across the nation’s expanding natural gas infrastructure.”
“Studies relied upon by EPA to develop policy and regulations were scientifically invalid,” the group noted.
In particular, NC WARN said in a press statement, “Dr. David Allen, then-head of EPA’s Science Advisory Board, has led an ongoing, three-year effort to cover up underreporting of the primary device, the Bacharach Hi-Flow Sampler, and a second device used to measure gas releases from equipment across the natural gas industry. Allen is also on the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin, where he has been funded by the oil and gas industries for years.”
“The EPA’s failure to order feasible reductions of methane leaks and venting has robbed humanity of crucial years to slow the climate crisis,” said Jim Warren, director of NC WARN. “The cover-up by Allen’s team has allowed the industry to dig in for years of delay in cutting emissions – at the worst possible time.”
NC WARN said they stumbled across the cover up in its complaint when it found out that the creator of the Bacharach Hi-Flow Sampler, an engineer named Touché Howard, had been trying to expose the EPA for years on a glitch in the instrument. This malfunction caused the instrument to under-report methane emissions by 100-fold, the group stated.
The research revealed the EPA has systematically under estimated methane leaks spurred by fracked gas production for years. Howard’s research showed the agency had been “hugely underestimating” methane emissions because of the defective device, according to Common Dreams.
“It appears that the goal of the [University of Texas] team was not to critically examine the problems but to convince [Environmental Defense Fund, who co-authored the study], and its production committee members that no problems existed,” NC WARN stated.
“We believe Mr. Howard was specifically prevented from providing input because the [University of Texas] team knew that he would be able to show that their counterarguments were faulty and the resulting studies scientifically invalid,” the group added.
The highlighted issues attached to the measurement device noted multiple times have yet to be taken into consideration, “resulting in the failure of the EPA to accurately report methane emissions for more than two years, much less require reductions,” stated the complaint. “Meanwhile, the faulty data and measuring equipment are still being used extensively throughout the natural gas industry worldwide.”
NW WARN has asked the EPA Inspector General to look into the chicanery tactics and corruption of Allen and other EPA authorities, revoke Allen’s research and review all EPA guidelines and policies based upon those studies, perform new studies that assess methane emissions produced by fracking, and scrutinize the EPA’s dependence on research fueled by industry bias and conflicts of interest.
“Fracking for gas and oil must also be stopped for a host of reasons. We’re reaching out to communities, workers, advocates and elected officials to join the call for an investigation into EPA’s scientific fraud,” Warren argued.
“The people of this nation must demand that regulators and politicians reject the pervasive pressure of corporate money, stop coddling the polluters – and do their jobs on behalf of the public,” he added.