People who follow the fracking policy battles closely may be able to tick off the technology's primary environmental and public safety drawbacks: It may cause minor earthquakes, in a few cases the hydraulic fluids used to fracture deep formations may get into local groundwater or streams, it may strain local water supplies by diverting some of them into fracking duty. And, long term, replacing coal with natural gas may be a move in the right direction but it is nothing to stick with for a long tine - it inherently maintains significant greenhouse gas emission at a worrisome if lower rate.
Such things as that seem, from here, fair game for opponents to exploit. they provide fertile enough reason for reporters to be alert to exaggerations by partisans pro, con, and sideways.
However, at the AP this week reporter Kevin Begos throws cold water on a different set of talking points some opponents are employing. Such as, a claimed possibility of dangerous increases in radioactive materials circulating in the environment, or even that breast cancer rates have spiked distinctly in regions with heavy fracking underway. This is public service journalism - the story makes a convincing case that a few fracking opponents are spouting balderdash in an effort to turn public opinion against such operations. It is proper to point out that science-distortion is not a monopoly of the industry and its whitewash experts.Read the story, and try not to be agitated by one prominent anti-fracker's determination to stick with his radiation argument in the face of clear evidence it is hooey.
So, good for AP. It seems also important to recognize that radiation and breast cancer have not, as far as I can recall, been major parts of the opposition's arsenal. To be sure, the NY Times last year ran some stories that raised the spectre of radiation in Pennsyulvania (and which got a squinty-eyed look here at ksjtracker, previous post). But it does not appear to come up terribly often.
Even if detractors stopped the demonstrably nonsensical arguments against fracking, the basic and larger arguments over its environmental costs and over its long-term ability to make much difference against global warming will go on much as they are. Second, in politics if an argument works it will probably persist even if it is stupid, unfair, irrelevant, or plain wrong. For instance, opponents of abortion have long maintained that it, too, increases breast cancer. There is no evidence of that. Debunkers have shouted themselves hoarse. But one still hears that bogus assertion from some 'pro-life' activists. It'll probably hang around in anti-fracking circles too.
Quick Reaction Dept: A writer for a biz trade pub took a whack at the AP
- Business Insider - Rob Wile: GEOLOGIST: Here Are 5 Truths About Fracking That Are Not Up For Debate ;
- Charlie Petit