Keep science and politics separate
Whether the science on energy-related issues is settled apparently depends on whether it is politically correct. If a study is not critical of the fossil-fuel industry, well, perhaps the government had better try again until it gets an acceptable result.
In June, the Environmental Protection Agency released a report on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The practice is used by oil and gas drillers to break up rock deep underground. That releases more gas and oil, making both fuels more available and economical for Americans.
Because chemicals are used in fracking, the technique is controversial among some who worry about contamination of ground water.
But in June, the EPA, after an allegedly comprehensive, scientific examination, concluded there is no evidence fracking has “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources.”
End of story? Time to celebrate a much-needed if unusual victory concerning affordable energy? No.
Members of the EPA’s Science Advisory Board are questioning the study. They sent agency Administrator Gina McCarthy a letter insisting last year’s report is “ambiguous and requires clarification and additional explanation.”
Perhaps so. Scientists often use jargon and statistics that are mysteries to most of us. But the June report seemed comparatively clear in explaining that while fracking can cause problems in isolated situations, it is not a major, widespread concern.
Is McCarthy being pressured not just to clarify but instead to reverse the study’s conclusions?
If so, she ought to think long and hard before doing so.