Via Meadia keeps a close eye on the unfolding energy revolution in America that stands to make America one of the world’s leading energy producers and upend the global energy markets in a manner largely favorable to U.S. interests. Yet while the benefits of the new oil and gas are obvious, there remains a dedicated green movement committed to banning the practice, and we’ve noticed a tendency towards sensationalism and hack science in recent months.
As a case in point, the Associated Press reports that opponents of fracking—including John Fox, the Oscar-nominated director of the anti-fracking film “the Sky is Pink”—claim that chemicals from fracking cause breast cancer in nearby towns, citing spikes in breast cancer rates around sites of intensive drilling.
Yet so far there’s precious little evidence for this claim. Various impartial parties, including the Texas Cancer Registry and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, can’t find any link between fracking and breast cancer:
David Risser, an epidemiologist with the Texas Cancer Registry, said in an email that researchers checked state health data and found no evidence of an increase in the counties where the spike supposedly occurred.
And Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a major cancer advocacy group based in Dallas, said it sees no evidence of a spike, either.
“We don’t,” said Chandini Portteus, Komen’s vice president of research, adding that they sympathize with people’s fears and concerns, but “what we do know is a little bit, and what we don’t know is a lot” about breast cancer and the environment.
Likewise, fears about deep-underground radioactive water getting into public water supplies have turned out to be baseless after extensive testing by the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.
As we’ve said before, it is certainly possible that some of the environmental concerns are valid, and as the technology expands in usage, more research should be done to determine how fracking can continue with minimal impact on the environment or nearby communities. But there’s a big difference between the sober and deliberate deployment of a powerful new technology with appropriate safeguards and kneejerk Nimby know-nothingism.