WRA report long on rhetoric, short on fact

September 22nd, 2016

A new report from Lock the Gate affiliate group Western Rivers Alliance (WRA), is sub-titled The Risks of Unconventional Gas Mining for Land, Water and Life, but even a quick read would suggest a better title: The Risks of Relying on Debunked Sources.

The report, which is part of WRA’s wider campaign against the resources industry, selectively quotes some of the US anti-gas industry’s favorite references to try and support their argument that an unconventional gas industry would somehow irrevocably damage the channel country:

  1. Tony Ingraffea: in writing about well failure, the report mentions the research of Cornell University Professor Tony Ingraffea. We’ve looked at his claims before, and Ingraffea himself recently conceded that he has no relevant experience with shale gas development.
  1. Robert Howarth: another Cornell University professor whose work on methane leakages and greenhouse gas emissions from shale gas production has been challenged by the scientific community.  Our colleagues at Energy In Depth have also examined Howarth and Ingraffea’s methane claims, and found them to be hot air.
  1. Oswald and Bamberger: the WRA report references a study from Oswald and Bamberger looking at farm animals in proximity to gas wells, which has already been widely discredited by many, including Professor Ian Rae from the University of Melbourne, who said:

“It certainly does not qualify as a scientific paper but is, rather, an advocacy piece that does not involve deep (no pun intended!) analysis of the data gathered to support its case.”

As we reported previously, the Oswald and Bamberger study has popped up in multiple submissions to the Tasmanian Government’s review of hydraulic fracturing, but that doesn’t make it any more credible.

What the report gives scant mention to is the long history of successful development of both conventional and unconventional gas development in both Queensland and South Australia.

The track record of the industry can’t be ignored in the same way that this report deserves to be.

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