Science and Law
1st May 2013

Scientific Quotes Demonstrating the Safety of Hydraulic Fracturing

At ISS, we are scientists that speak the language of lawyers, and this post will update you on scientific topics evaluating the potential impact of hydraulic fracturing activities on the safety of the environment and human health. From our research, we put together a compilation of scientific quotes that showcase the safety of hydraulic fracturing.

Scientific Quotes Demonstrating the Safety of Hydraulic Fracturing

At ISS, we are scientists that speak the language of lawyers, and this post will update you on scientific topics evaluating the potential impact of hydraulic fracturing activities on the safety of the environment and human health. From our research, we put together a compilation of scientific quotes that showcase the safety of hydraulic fracturing.

Why quotes you ask?

Every seasoned lawyer understands the value of well-sourced, authoritative quotes. These quotes can help highlight contradictions in your opponent’s arguments, support your assertions, and help you produce briefs that are clear, precise, and supportable.

So make sure to get this list!

A Need For Rigorous Science

The popular media is rampant with claims that hydraulic fracturing is unsafe. Anecdotal stories abound, alleging that hydraulic fracturing activities are leading to adverse health effects, and wreaking havoc on the environment.

Despite the allegations, the science investigating these matters is in its infancy, and findings are often polarizing, and/or controversial, to say the least.

Notwithstanding the limitations and difficulties in studying the potential human and environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing (e.g. water contamination, adverse health effects, etc.), activists latch on to findings they find favorable, and fail to contextualize them or spend time reading and thinking about the actual study methodologies, the limitations, and conclusions.

© Peterclose | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Further, many studies require the audience to have a very technical understanding of the underlying methodologies. As an example, take Tom Myers’ article Potential Contaminant Pathways from Hydraulically Fractured Shale to Aquifers (Ground Water Vol. 50, Issue 6, Nov-Dec 2012). Myers employed sophisticated theoretical models to simulate to characterize risk factors associated with vertical contaminant transport from the shale to near-surface aquifers through natural pathways.

Given the nature of the methods, most lay people, or experts for that matter, would have a difficult time grasping what was actually done. As a result, they may be inclined to take the path of least resistance and simply accept the findings as reported.

However, based on fear that Myers’ conclusions “would be used to further advance misinformation circulated regarding the shale gas industry” the Pennsylvania Council of Professional Geologists released a rebuttal to the Myers article, citing the conclusions to be “highly questionable”, and to be “lacking in numerous technical areas”. Having professionals put the Myers findings in perspective, the findings lost some luster.

Misinformation is rampant in times of scant scientific evidence, and it is important to be critical of everything that you read – whether it is in the media or from a peer-reviewed journal.

Flurry of New Scientific Activity

Recently, there has been a flurry of scientific activity around issues related to potential human and environmental effects as a result of natural gas drilling.

Just a few months back The Degenstein Foundation awarded Geisinger Health System a $1 million grant to fund a study into the potential health impacts of Marcellus shale gas drilling. This is being touted as the first large-scale, scientifically rigorous assessment of the health effects of natural gas production. Phase I will consist of a series of pilot studies that will focus on plausible, short latency outcomes that can be easily identified, such as potential changes in air quality and the impact on asthma, effects on perinatal outcomes such as birth weight or prematurity, or occurrence of motor vehicle trauma (See Geisinger Newsletter).

On another front, a newly forged collaboration may become a great source of science related to natural gas drilling. A new interagency collaboration was forged this past week bringing together NETL and NIOSH scientists to perform research related to airborne emissions and air quality at natural gas drilling sites. See the press release.

Update on Gasland II (or Gasland too)

As mentioned in a previous post, Fox’s Gasland II recently premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, and it didn’t take long for EID to post a thorough debunking of the film. EID, which cleverly suggests that the film should have been called Gasland too, notes that the film is a mere re-hash of old talking points and issues (think Dimock, the EPA Pavillion study etc.). Fox provides no meaningful input to this raging debate, and if anything, it seems like a poor attemp at trying to remain relevant.

In the face of potential misinformation, it is important to assess the science for yourself; and especially make sure it’s not junk science! As a starting point, check out our list of fantastic fact-based resouces for lawyers to get information on scientific issues related to hydraulic fracturing.

About Innovative Science Solutions

Innovative Science Solutions (ISS) is a leading scientific consulting firm for the worldwide pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industries. We are an expert team of scientists, regulatory strategists, and consultants providing a wide range of fully-integrated services to industry and counsel including:

Scientific Support to Counsel (Scientific Analysis, Scientific Strategy, Expert ID)

Regulatory Strategy Development

Dietary Supplement Claim Substantiation and Defense Services

Scientific Due Diligence

For complex litigation support, ISS delivers specialized solutions for your science hurdles. With over 13 years of experience, let our proven blend of success and innovation work for you.

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