Anti-frack attackers caught lying. Again.
“Critics of fracking often raise alarms about ground-water pollution, air pollution and cancer risks, and there are still many uncertainties. But some of the claims have little — or nothing– to back them up,” The Associated Press reports.
For example, reports that breast cancer rates rose in North Texas along with heavy gas drilling in the Barnett Shale are false, researchers told The Associated Press.
Fears that natural radioactivity in drilling waste could contaminate drinking water aren’t being confirmed by monitoring, either.
And concerns about air pollution from the industry often don’t acknowledge that natural gas is a far cleaner-burning fuel than coal…
…One of the clearest examples of a misleading claim comes from Texas, where gas drilling began in the Barnett Shale about 10 years ago.
Opponents of fracking say breast cancer rates have spiked exactly where intensive drilling is taking place — and nowhere else in the state. The claim is used in a letter that was sent to New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo by environmental groups and by Josh Fox, the Oscar-nominated director of Gasland, a film that criticizes the industry. Fox, who lives in Brooklyn, has a new short film called The Sky Is Pink.
But researchers haven’t seen a spike in breast cancer rates in the area, said Simon Craddock Lee, a professor of medical anthropology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
David Risser, an epidemiologist with the Texas Cancer Registry, said in an e-mail that researchers checked state health data and found no evidence of an increase in the counties where the spike supposedly occurred.
And Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a major cancer advocacy group based in Dallas, said it sees no evidence of a spike, either.
“We don’t,” said Chandini Portteus, Komen’s vice president of research, adding that the group sympathizes with people’s fears and concerns, but “what we do know is a little bit, and what we don’t know is a lot” about breast cancer and the environment.
Yet Fox tells viewers in an ominous voice that “In Texas, as throughout the United States, cancer rates fell — except in one place– in the Barnett Shale.”
Lee called the claims of an increase “a classic case of the ecological fallacy” because they falsely suggest that breast cancer is linked to just one factor. In fact, diet, lifestyle and access to healthcare also play key roles.
Fox responded to questions by citing a news release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that doesn’t support his claim, and a newspaper story that Risser said is “not based on a careful statistical analysis of the data.”
When Fox was told that Texas cancer researchers said rates didn’t increase, he replied in an e-mail that the claim of unusually high breast cancer rates was “widely reported” and said there is “more than enough evidence to warrant much deeper study.”
One expert said there’s an actual psychological process at work that sometimes blinds people to science, on the fracking debate and many others.
“You can literally put facts in front of people, and they will just ignore them,” said Mark Lubell, director of the Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior at the University of California, Davis.
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