How Anti-Fracking Activists Deny Science: Well Integrity
In the past week, we’ve covered three separate issues where anti-fracking activists categorically reject any scientific conclusion that differs from their preconceived ideology: air emissions and methane leaks,groundwater contamination, and public health. In this latest installment, we’ll look at activist claims on well integrity, “leaky” wells, and failure rates.
To be sure, we’ve covered this issue extensively before (see here, here, and here). But we continue to see activists claim excessively high failure rates as a means of scaring the public and, by extension, trying to shut down development altogether.
Without a doubt, the most commonly cited source of this claim is anti-fracking activist Tony Ingraffea, who has claimed frequently that “industry documents” reveal astronomical leakage rates from existing wells. Yoko Ono penned a letter to the editor in the New York Times leveraging Ingraffea’s “research,” and we all know about Josh Fox’s short film “The Sky Is Pink” that relied heavily on that same information. The Sierra Club has encouraged its members to read Ingraffea’s work on failure rates, and Food & Water Watch similarly claims that 50 percent of “fracking wells” will leak over a 30-year period.
The reality, however, is that these anti-fracking activists are deliberately misleading the public about well integrity and failure rates. [...]
The activist talking point on well casing failures is not based on science or hard data. It is purely a manufactured story line; a series of misleading or outright false claims designed to instill doubt in the public’s mind about the safety of shale development. It is not a discussion of risk or even risk management, much less an attempt to have a reasonable dialogue about safety.
Simply put, opponents hope the public is too stupid to do its own research to discover just how divorced from reality their claims are.