Sunday, June 26, 2016

EPA Official Covered up Methane Leakage Problems across US Natural Gas Industry

EPA Official Covered up Methane Leakage Problems across US Natural Gas Industry
NC WARN, 8 June 2016, no author stated

This is a press release from non-profit climate/energy action group NC WARN, announcing that they have filed a complaint with the Inspector General of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  In this complaint, they allege “scientific fraud” and “possibly criminal misconduct” against Dr. David Allen, past head of the EPA’s Science Advisory Board and a faculty member of the University of Texas at Austin, for a claimed “three-year effort to cover up underreporting” of methane emissions by the EPA.

My take: I am quite skeptical of this.  First let me say that (1) I think methane leaks are a big problem for climate change, (2) I agree – as does everyone following this, including the EPA themselves – that the EPA has historically underreported methane leakage, and (3) this underreporting has doubtless given some degree of aid and comfort to the fracking industry.  But this press release does not convincingly substantiate the allegations of scientific fraud and criminal misconduct against Dr. Allen, and it reeks of bias.  A much more balanced presentation of both sides of the story can be found in the Washington Post (  It may be that fraud and/or misconduct occurred; but that will only become clear after an actual investigation is done, and it would be unwise to jump to conclusions.  I would trust organizations like NC WARN much more if they didn’t engage in this sort of demagoguery.  For example, NC WARN states prominently that Dr. Allen "has been funded by the oil and gas industries for years”, while noting much less prominently and clearly that the studies in question by Dr. Allen were primarily funded, and published, by the Environmental Defense Fund – a rather less damning fact, no?  This reminds me of the deceitful hounding of climate scientists by climate change denialists; such tactics ought to have no place in rational debate.

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