Category Archives: fakenews

Fracked Gas is worse than Coal. Whoops, another paper claiming that is retracted!!

Coal-power-plant-sunset-retire-XL_721_420_80_s_c1So often we are told fracked gas is worse than coal for emissions. Here is a peer-reviewed article which claims just that.

Oh dear, it has been retracted for errors which showed just the opposite

Retraction of Peer Reviewed Report Indicates Need for Smear Review
Posted on March 4, 2018 by Tom Shepstone
penneast pipeline – Tom Shepstone ReportsTom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.

A retracted study that had been peer reviewed indicates the danger in relying on it to ensure sound science when it comes to fractivist applauded reports.

Back in 2015, this is how an Akron, Ohio newspaper headlined some methane leakage research then being conducted by the University of Maryland:

Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Natural Gas Wells
Are Increasing & Traveling Far Downwind



A new University of Maryland study shows a steep rise in greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas wells produced by fracking in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The emitted gases travel far downwind from the producing states, suggesting the need for regional cooperation in monitoring and reducing emissions from natural gas production, say the authors.

The preliminary reporting turned into a study released in April, 2017 as a peer reviewed document. Now, the study has been retracted. It’s a lesson in the risk of depending on the words “peer reviewed” as a measure of credibility.



Here’s more from the early reporting on the preliminary research conducted by the same University of Maryland team that produced the subsequent retracted study:

Emissions linked to hydraulic fracturing, the method of drilling for natural gas commonly known as “fracking,” can be detected hundreds of miles away in states that that forbid or strictly control the practice, according to a new paper published in the journal Atmospheric Environment. The study, conducted at the University of Maryland (UMD), is among the latest data presented in the ongoing debate over fracking’s long-term effects on the environment.

The team used years’ worth of hourly measurements from photochemical assessment monitoring stations (PAMS) in the Baltimore, Md., and Washington, D.C., areas to identify the sources of organic carbons in the region’s air. Starting in 2010, the data didn’t seem to make sense…

Preliminary research revealed that there was nothing happening in Maryland that could account for the steep increase. Maryland does not currently permit fracking, but when Ehrman’s team compared the rise in ethane to the extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus shale play in neighboring states, they found a month-to-month correlation. After running a wind rose analysis – a tool used by meteorologists to track the wind direction, distribution and speed in a specified area – they felt even more confident that Maryland was receiving the tail end of emissions originating from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio…

“The question you start to ask yourself is, if ethane levels are going up this much, and it’s only a small percentage of all natural gas, how much methane and other, more reactive emissions are escaping from these wells?” says Ph.D. student Tim Vinciguerra, the paper’s lead author. “Following the fracturing process, the well undergoes completion venting to clear out fluid and debris before production. A substantial amount of hydrocarbons are emitted as a result of this flowback procedure.”

These new findings on natural gas emissions also are consistent with established findings by University of Maryland scientists showing westerly winds can carry power plant emissions and other pollution from states like Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania to the Washington, D.C., region and elsewhere on the East Coast of the U.S.

Thus was a false story born. The University of Maryland team that effectively generated it went on to conclude, in the retracted report, the following (emphasis added):

We estimate the mean ± 1σ CH4 leak rate from O&NG operations as 3.9 ± 0.4% with a lower limit of 1.5% and an upper limit of 6.3%… Although recent regulations requiring capture of gas from the completion venting step of the hydraulic fracturing appear to have reduced losses, our study suggests that for a 20 year time scale, energy derived from the combustion of natural gas extracted from this region will require further controls before it can exert a net climate benefit compared to coal.

There was just one problem; the University of Maryland team had made a critical error, revealed, to their credit, by themselves in the subsequent retraction:

The article… has been retracted by the authors because of an error in wind measurements used to calculate methane emissions in the southwestern Marcellus Shale region. The error was discovered by the authors in October 2017 upon their installation of an improved, differential GPS, wind measurement system onto the aircraft used in this study. The original wind measurements led to an overestimate of methane emissions from oil and natural gas operations.

A reanalysis with corrected winds reduced the total estimated emissions by about a factor of 1.7, with a correspondingly larger reduction in emissions of methane attributed to oil and natural gas in the southwestern Marcellus Shale area.

This is expected to reverse a conclusion of the paper, which had asserted that leakage from oil and natural gas extraction in this region results in a climate penalty compared to the use of coal.

The authors are in the process of submitting a new manuscript based on an updated analysis that will describe the process to correct the erroneous wind measurements used in the original manuscript, provide a more accurate estimate of the methane emissions, and assess the implications of the fossil fuel production from the Marcellus Shale.

If your wondered whether the Akron Beacon Journal covered the retraction with the same enthusiasm as the original research, the unsurprising answer is a simple “no.” That almost never happens, of course. The public was told something that was blatantly wrong and it is now ingrained in memory as part of a big picture on fracking that is one gigantic distortion because of a rush to judgment in a mad dash for political correct publicity and research dollars. Correcting the false impression, as usual, is no easy task and will require years of explanation.

Who’s at fault? Well, we can blame lots of folks, but most of the discredit has to go those who gave the 2017 a peer reviewed imprimatur. Here’s how Tim Benson at the Heartland Institute summed it up:

Jordan McGillis, a policy analyst at the Institute for Energy Research, says with so much potential to affect public policy, it’s troubling the initial paper passed peer review.

“That an error of this magnitude made it through the publication process is unfortunate,” said McGillis. “It is not difficult to imagine the paper’s startling conclusions influenced the public against hydraulic fracturing, against gas infrastructure, and against gas generally.

“Misinformation perpetuates anti-energy bias in our culture and can result in real harm,” McGillis said.

McGillis says state governments in two regions near Marcellus energy operations have limited pipeline development because of environmental activists’ opposition.

“Consider the fact the New York and New England regions should be benefiting from the Marcellus Shale’s proximity but are instead hamstrung by pipeline opposition,” said McGillis. “Just this winter, ISO New England [the regional electric power transmission provider] produced a report citing insufficient gas infrastructure as a leading factor in their prediction of future fuel insecurity and operator-imposed blackouts.”

And, who were those peers? We’ll never know because their names aren’t provided. There’s no accountability with much of peer review today and these are the fruits of such lax publication and university policies. Peer review today now requires smear reviews to get to the truth.




Evolutions in Trust, Part 2: Blockchain (Citizen) Science

The serious problem of citizen science, when so often measurements are made by thosue who haven’t a clue

The Risk-Monger

In Part 1 of this blockchain series, the idea of “blockchain trust” was introduced. We no longer trust our experts, institutions and authorities but will happily get into a car with a stranger or rent out our sofa-bed to people we have never met based on widely shared reviews, believed to be transparent and objective. This is the world of blockchain trust – where everyone is watching and reviewing everyone else forming an anonymous, decentralised consensus (chain) of affirmation. Authority is determined by all parts of the chain who participate (and are allowed) on the chain.

The Risk-Monger has long ago been voted off the island.

As most scientists have also been voted off (or given merely one voice among the chain), we need to focus on how this blockchain trust tool functions for environmental health policy decisions that should be evidence-driven. This is the purpose of Part…

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All the Facts about Fracking – er – um

Ever since I started to find out what fracking entailed  I have been amuzed by the sheer nonsense put out by opponents of fracking. Worst are those who should know better like Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace  and Guardian Environment. They have been successful both in raising an awareness and hostility to fracking, but at times their followers/dupees come out with complete tosh.


Here is a prime example from a female protester at Preston New Road.  On 3rd of Sept this was posted on the FB page Lancaster fights Fracking entitled “All the Facts about fracking”

Here it along with my comments;

You can read it here.

All the facts about fracking


I went to Preston New Road on Friday to demonstrate against the fracking company Cuadrilla. The idea was to go and stand outside cuadrilla’s gates to prevent deliveries etc from coming and going,

Is this actually legal? And how would she liked it if someone stopped her clients entering her premise for their “Neuroplastcity”?

this is what demonstraters were doing since March.
I found that the local people I talked to were very upset as the value of their properties had dropped 70% since Cuadrilla’s arrival.

Really! On what evidence? The evidence shows that house prices have not dropped

Fracking has already caused huge amounts of damage and fear in the area with ground tremors.

Yet another! Even tremors of Mag 2.3 don’t cause damage. This is simply falling for scaremongering

In 2011 at Preece Hall there were two significant tremors of Mag 1.5 and 2.3. Few felt them and no one reported any damages, though later some claimed that their property was damaged.

This image is useful. It shows that a Mag2.3 is about the same as a lightning bolt and that tremors that size are very common, with a about half a million every year. Further they are at least a billion times smaller than either the Nepal quake or the 2004 tsunami.


Fracking does cause seismic activity and many refer to 50 at Preece Hall. all but two were Mag 1 or less and would hardly cause a ripple in a teacup. Despite this many have used these “earthquakes” as a scare-mongering tactic and was used in the Greenpeace “Not for Shale” Campaign.


That was effective in conning locals and here its influence can be seen with concerns of “huge damage”. There was pretty clearly no damage.

The way the damage is caused is by enormous amounts of water poured a mile down

A profound mis-undrestanding of fracking. The water is pumped in under very high pressure, not poured.

into a pocket of gas,

I am beginning to despair. conventional sources have pockets of gas. Gas in shale is simply found in microscopic interstices in the shale.

This is a terrible misunderstanding. Some gas deposits, as in Holland, are found in underground caverns, but in fracking gas is extracted from shale, where the gas is found in the shale in tiny interstices in the rock. Hence in exploration a rough test is to put a piece of core from the shales into a “fish tank” and the amount of gas is indicated by the number of bubbles. There is simply no pocket of gas, but gas spread throughout the shale

Featured Image -- 4589

this forces the gas up, along with all kinds of methanes

The gas is methane and there are no other kinds of methanes. This is so face-palming.



and other toxics.

Presumably a clumsy reference to the variopus stuff in flow-back

The drilling disturbs the land plates

This is simply hilarious and shows and incredible ignorance of even school-level geography. She is vaguely aware of palates but ain’t got a clue about plate-tectonics and quakes

and causes tremors and disturbances.

More guff

We heard that the government was going to start putting nuclear toxic waste down the drilling hole when the drilling was finished and cover it in! 😳 Terrifying !

If she hadn’t come out with such silly stuff before, I’d say she was lying. This is simply repeating someone else’s blatant lie.

There was about 50 or 60 of us and the same amount of police. People were very amusing , someone called to the police “I hope no one is getting robbed in Blackpool”
I can’t say I wasn’t a bit scared as I’d seen videos on FB the night before of the police being very rough indeed. Saying this, my own experience was that the long term demonstraters , who were there every day, were quite offensive to the police, but I saw why later!


We stood in the same spot outside the gates, as was customary , the police arrested one of our group for obstructing the highway.

That is illegal!!

We weren’t on the highway we were where we thought it was legal to stand. It turns out that Lancashire council had redesignated the land, that morning, to become part of the highway. The police are always talking about cooperation , if they had told us the facts, we would have moved , this was a really slimey way to get an arrest.
The police were arrogant , unpleasant and far too authoritarian, there were far too many of them, at one time one police person per demonstrator . Don’t we have a shortage of police ?

Well if you bait the police and continue pushing them to the limit, they may not be friendly.

We noticed an awful lot of support from motorists going past who beeped and waved.
Lancashire council voted against fracking

And a lot who didn’t beep. It was a the planning committee not the whole council

but a conservative minister over ruled this and granted a license !

No, the minister did not over-rule it. Cuadrilla appealed as is their legal right and after much evidence was taken, the minister upheld the advice of the Planning Officer


It seems it makes no difference to this government what the public want, they just need to get their hands on more cash and deal more destruction to our environment!

More of the usual mantras!

I am afraid i didn”t find one fact in this article




The author is a lady working in Lancaster and according to her FB page is;

As you read it you will see she makes a lot of statements about fracking and the behaviour of the police at the fracking site near Blackpool.

The post has been shared 40 odd times, including to to RAFF and RAG. If RAFF and RAG shared it , why didn’t they correct its howlers. It makes you wonder!

Here is a complimentary comment for “all the facts about fracking”

  • grace


  • RAG liked it too, with one saying “well-written and observed”
  • rAG on Grace


Mark Lynas – On why GMOs are vital to food security in our world


This is an excellent address by Mark Lynas on the value of GMOs

One of the annoying things about the environmental movement today are those who apply heresy tests to anyone claiming to be green.

GMO EU action

and so;

If you don’t regard GMO as frankenstein food you hate the environment


If you don’t only eat Organic food you are doomed to a green hell

If you don’t hate Glyphosphate then you are poisoning the earth and our food

If you support nuclear energy, you deserve the green version of being nuked.

If you don’t support divestment from fossil fuels, you are a shill for the coal industry

If you support fracking you don’t give a damn about climate change and are a shill for Big Oil.


Sadly, I have only taken a little poetic licence there, but sadly these attitudes are only too common. They are essentially the views of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, who possibly do more damage to the environment and humanity than anyone else


Anyway ignore my rant and read Mark Lynas


Source: Mark Lynas – Speech to the Oxford Farming Conference 2018

Take the Pro-Truth Pledge (because we’re all fallible)

Not all like signing pleadges like this, but it very relevant today.

LPolitics is plagued by fakenews and post-truth as it seems politicians compete with each other to spew out the most blantant post-truth aka lies.

It is equally bad when science impinges on daily lives. We all know of the post-truth of Creationists, which is often deliberate. But we see the same on GMOs and glyphosphate. On climate change we have the fake news and post-truth from the extreme climate deniers to the radical activists like Bill McKibbin, Friends of the Earth and Christian groups like Operation Noah. I don’t who are the worst

And then there is fracking, and antifrackers have got post-truth down to fine art.

Read and enjoy, but only after you have marked, learned and inwardly digested

Even if you do not sign the pledge, make sure that you carry it out by sharing, honouring and encouraging truth and show no quarter to those who persistently do not

This is another pertinent post from Paul Braterman

Primate's Progress

Pro-Truth Pledge LogoI  learnt about this pledge from the Skeptic Reading Room. And while I generally loathe public pledges (too much virtue signalling for my liking), I am making an exception for this one, in response to our exceptional times. And the fine print makes admirable reading. Besides,  several hundred public figures and organizations have signed it, including Steven Pinker and Peter Singer, and what’s good enough for them is good enough for me. Many dozens of politicians have signed it as well, and one of the aims is to persuade more to do so, and hold them accountable.

Truth matters. Propagating untruth is big business and big politics. The traditional guardians of truth have abdicated, are compromised, or lack traction. By default, the job of protecting truth falls to us. We need to take our responsibility seriously.

We are all drawn towards confirmation bias, group think (our own group, of course!)…

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Scaremongering on health effects of fracking in Lancashire

17th November 2017. Today Gina Dowding and 11 others were found guilty of obstructing the public highway outside the fracking site on Preston New Road in July 2017. Of these 12 3 were various councillors and all argued about their concerns for health and water contamination and appealed to the slogan #wesaidno. dowding said after the hearing that they opposed this “pernicious and perverted ” industry

Here is drillordrop’s  account!!

Dowding has been active in opposing shale gas, mostly on health grounds, for several years, despite her concerns not being accepted by Public Health England and other bodies. Her claims are not upheld by Public Health England and thus were rejected by the chief planning officer of Lancs County Council in 2015. She wrote up her claims for the CIEH in 2014 and here is a brief rebuttal of them. It seems that in the last three years these personal unsubstantiated opinions have not changed.


I find it concerning that a health professional rejects the findings of Public Health England along with her fellow protesters.

It is difficult not to see her concerns as rather hyped and not founded in proper research, but this is the approach of many who oppose fracking  – and the Green Party


Lancashire County Council has recently considered the health impact of two proposed fracking sites. Gina Dowding, Lancashire’s Green Party councillor and a former NHS health promotion officer, outlines her personal view of the key health risks.

The CIEH’s assessment of the risks is available here:



1. Climate Change
The greatest threat to future wellbeing is climate change. It is now recognised that 70 per cent of known fossil fuels need to stay in the ground if we are to avoid more than two degrees of global warming. It is imperative that the UK takes the lead on this and concentrates on investment in renewable energy development instead of new fossil fuel exploration and extraction. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has recently issued again stark warnings that urgent action is required now.

A popular and simplistic argument. She does not say which fossil fuels need to stay in the ground and doesn’t point out shale gas is cleaner than coal and thus the best solution now, in the absence of anything better. Further renewables produce only 5% of world’s energy so there cannot be a rapid transition. In the USA use of gas has resulted in a reduction of emissions thus help Climate Change. The IPCC saw an important place for the use of shale gas, so this reflects an incomplete reading of the IPCC reports

This shows how much energy must be produced to replace fossil fuels


2. Air quality
Venting and incomplete flaring of shale gas will lead to the release of benzenes and other known carcinogens. In the US fugitive gas levels around sites have been found to be up to 100 times more than predicted.

There will be no venting and flaring when drilling is complete. She is misinformed here. Further, flaring only happens before production if at all. Venting or flaring is simply losing money. What evidence does she have of benzenes and carcinogens? That sounds a scarestory. On fugitive levels this seems like an allusion to the discredited Howarth paper

3. Water pollution

The risk of well leaks is a chronic problem that the oil and gas industry do not know how to fix. Studies (such as by Schlumberger published in Oilfield Review) admit that 6 per cent of wells leak immediately with 50 per cent leaking in 15 years – leaving a potential toxic legacy that may irreversibly damage underground water supplies.

This is just nonsense. Out of 2200 wells on the English mainland only a few have had minor leaks. Again much exaggeration

4. Flowback Fluid
The flowback fluid produced by the process contains toxic chemicals, heavy metals and radioactive materials. There are concerns about sufficient capacity to treat hazardous: In Lancashire and at peak times one of the proposed sites alone will utilise a major proportion of the available treatment capacity within 100 miles of the site (based on radiation levels and physical treatment capacity).

Yes, flowback is nasty enough not to be put into watercourses, but it isn’t much worse than the Dead Sea for chemical. The radioactive NORMS present are fairly low level Many of us have survived swimming in the Dead Sea!! The flowback from Preese Hall was cleaned to EA standards by Remsol and then disposed off according to regulations. Remsol says treatment is not a big deal.  Cuadrilla have treatments ready for the flow back. This is blatant scaremongering

5. Chemicals
The chemicals used in the Fracking process in the US have been linked to cancers and low birth weight in infants. Breast Cancer UK have called for a moratorium on all exploration and licensing due to their concerns about the potentially adverse health effects.

She is relying on the list of 600+ chemicals which HAVE been used in the USA, rather than the handful of non-carcinogenic which will be used in the UK – Water 99.5%, sand , polyacrylamide, possibly HCl and a biocide. In other words are benign solution despite what Friends of the Earth claimed in 2015  The ASA forced them to withdraw their claims. Breast Cancer UK ‘s report was very dodgy and partially retracted See also Dr James Verdon



6. Transport related accidents
Site visits undertaken in Lancashire show that HGVs with large loads e.g. 40ft trailers for office space and work space would have difficulty safely negotiating the narrow rural roads in proximity to the project sites. But there are long-term traffic implications once drilling is underway. The Lancashire Roseacre Awareness group are highlighting the risk of accidents and the impact of traffic on their rural villages.

This is not the case for Preston New Road and she should have said so. This is despite all the protests at PNR on 2017. This is more of a problem for Roseacre but is not a serious as she implies. Her best argument!!!!

7. Noise
Health effects that may result from community noise are well documented and include interference with communication; effects on sleep, and on the cardiovascular and psycho-physiological systems and noise-induced hearing impairment. Drilling is planned 24 hours a day, including nighttime; it is expected that the noise levels will be continuous for at least 14 months.

This is sheer overstatement. The noise is minimal and can hardly be heard beyond a hundred yards.  Even by the rig, when in operation (I have visited it), you can speak quietly and not find the noise unpleasant. Pure exaggeration. Far worse, is to live on most streets in towns!!

8 Occupational health risks
There is limited evidence on occupational health risks due to cumulative exposure to silica dust, noise and air pollution during shale gas exploration in the UK context. The concern is that there are no specific occupational health standards for onshore oil and gas extraction.

There are plenty of regulations for any industrial process

9. Emergencies
Local residents have anxiety over emergency scenarios. Although emergency planning is a requirement for this type of development, this process has not been ‘visible’ to residents. Anxiety fuelled by uncertainty over this issue could potentially have wider health impacts than the risks themselves

This is grasping at straws as are the worries of anxiety. That anxiety is induced by misinformation like this article. I wonder if any local residents were concerned before they were fed with this type of alleged problem.

10. Inadequate regulation
Perhaps most significantly Lancashire’s Health Impact Assessment report acknowledges that the current regulations in place in the UK which are there to protect the public’s health are inadequate to properly regulate the fracking industry. The report notes that the lack of public trust and confidence, is causing stress and anxiety from uncertainty, that could lead to poor mental wellbeing. At the very least the government should heed calls from public health bodies, campaigners and the public alike that industry specific regulation must be introduced before fracking takes hold in the UK.

This is a favourite argument and is put forward forcibly by Mike Hill. Regulations are in place and all aspects are being monitored by the appropriate bodies. Dowding’s paper was written in 2014 and here refers to a report of 2014. By 2015 the Planning Officer using reports from PHE etc concluded there was not a concern here, except demanding that noise levels were reduced. This was carried out by Cuadrilla.

Today 17/11/17 Dowding argued that regulations were still insufficient

Problems of “the lack of public trust and confidence, is causing stress and anxiety from uncertainty” were largely inflamed by anti-fracking groups of which Dowding was active in. Of course, people get anxious when fed with plausible scare stories.

As it happens all her possible concerns on regulation were dealt with before  permission was granted by the Secretary of State in late 2016.