FACT CHECK: Huff Post Duo Put Time Magazine in Their Crosshairs, Check Facts at Arianna’s Front Door

In a recent Huffington Post column, Purdue University associate professor Steve Hallett – whose area of academic expertise is “weed science” – and John Wright – author “The Obama Haters: Behind the Right-Wing Campaign of Lies, Innuendo & Racism” (597,804th on Amazon’s Bestsellers Ranks) – lodge a host of illogical and equally baseless claims against Time Magazine energy and environmental reporter Bryan Walsh. At issue? Walsh’s 4,100 word front-page story – “This Rock Could Power the World: Why Shale Can Solve the Energy Crisis” – which focuses on the Marcellus Shale, considered to be second largest natural gas field in the entire world.
To their credit, this isn’t Hallet and Wright’s first rodeo taking on reliable American energy forms, such as oil and natural gas. The duo co-authored “Life Without Oil: Why We Must Shift to a New Energy Future” (18,469th on Amazon’s Bestsellers Ranks).

But by all accounts, Walsh’s piece was well-researched, objective, and balanced — which clearly irked the Boiler Maker botanist and his sidekick. And while the pair contend that Time “got it wrong this time” on the ‘enormous’ potential of clean-burning, job-creating American shale gas – as President Obama said in a recent speech – here’s a quick look at the facts.

Huffington Post Claims … … At Odds With The Reality
“[Time Magazine] proclaims that natural gas offers us a whole century
of relatively clean energy.” (Huffington Post, 4/4/11)
President Obama: “Recent innovations have given us the opportunity to tap large reserves –- perhaps a century’s worth of reserves, a hundred years worth of reserves – in the shale under our feet.” (Remarks by the President on America’s Energy Security, 3/30/11)
“Promoters want us to think this gas will be produced in great volume with limited environmental impact.” (Huffington Post, 4/4/11) Ralph Cavanagh, co-director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) energy program:From a broad perspective, [NRDC’s Ralph] Cavanagh said shale supplies offer a great opportunity for many different groups. While he wanted to avoid “boosterism” of burning more gas,he gushed over the prospects for the resource.“I am convinced that this, fundamentally from both economic and environmental perspectives, is good news,” he said.“By any reasonable measure, the availability of more domestic natural gas supply at, from a long-term perspective, lower costs than accustomed to recently is something that environmental advocates, state utility regulators and a whole host of other constituencies can rejoice in.” (SNL Energy,2/15/11)Taury Smith, NY State’s Top Geologist and a Self-Described ‘Liberal Democrat’:No cases in which [hydraulic fracturing] has led to groundwater contamination … This is a huge gift, this shale.” (Albany Times Union, 3/14/11)
“It risks polluting groundwater with
the toxic fracking chemicals.” (Huffington Post,4/4/11)
Fmr. PA DEP Sec. and Fmr. PennFuture CEO John Hanger: “It’s our experience in Pennsylvania that we have not had one case in which the fluids used to break off the gas from 5,000 to 8,000 feet underground have returned to contaminate ground water.” (Reuters, 10/4/10)

  • EPA: “The [2004 EPA] study determined that fracturing posed ‘little or no threat’” to groundwater. (E&E News, 2/24/11)
  • Obama Administration: “No Documented Cases of Hydraulic Fracturing Contamination” (U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, 12/8/09)
  • Association of American State Geologists President: “There have been no documented cases of drinking water contamination that have resulted from hydraulic fracturing.” (Regulatory Statements on Hydraulic Fracturing, 6/09)
“The industry is largely unregulated, with little oversight. The environmental impact threatens to be devastating if shale gas production ramps up: radioactivity in drinking water so full of solvents that it can be ignited as it gushes out of our faucets.
If fracking increases exponentially, so will the accompanying hazards.” (Huffington Post, 4/4/11)
Gov. Ed Rendell and Frm. PADEP sec. John Hanger: “As the two people who enacted four regulatory packages strengthening drilling regulation and led the enforcement of the rules in Pennsylvania until January, we strongly disagree that there is lax regulation and oversight of gas drilling there.” (New York Times, 3/5/11)EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson: “I want to make two points on hydraulic fracturing: One is that it is not an unregulated activity.” (Senate EPW Hearing,2/4/211)Colo. Oil, Gas Regulators Set the Record Straight on Flaming Faucet Canard:

  • Our investigations determined that the wells in question contained biogenic methane that is not attributable to such development.
  • We concluded that Mike Markham’s and Renee McClure’s wells contained biogenic gas that wasnot related to oil and gas activity.
  • The occurrence of methane…has been well documented in numerous publications by the Colorado Geological Survey, the United States Geological Survey, and the Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists dating back more than 30 years.
  • Water samples from the wells were analyzed for benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes (BTEX), which are constituents of the hydrocarbons produced by oil and gas wells in the area. The absence of any BTEX compounds in these water samples provided additional evidence that oil and gas activity did not contaminate the Markham and McClure wells. (COGCC)

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