Sep. 19, 2013
The New York Times had a report yesterday (9/18/13) on a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on methane releases associated with natural gas fracking. The study, Times reporter Michael Wines writes, “bolsters the contention by advocates of fracking–and some environmental groups as well–that shale gas is cleaner and better than coal, at least until more renewable-energy sources are developed.”
Wines was upfront about the fact that the study was backed by energy companies with a financial stake in its results. But he suggested that that really wasn’t such a big problem:
The study’s connection to the petroleum industry–among its sponsors and financiers are Shell, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Exxon Mobil and Chevron–may lead some to question its objectivity, some outside experts said. But most said the research and the reputations of the researchers appear solid.
“Previous studies that have gotten a lot of attention have had red flags jumping out all over them. This one didn’t,” said Michael A. Levi, the director of the program on energy security and climate change at the Council on Foreign Relations. In an e-mailed statement, Shell’s president, Marvin Odum, called the study “a prime example of key groups–that may not have the exact same interests–working collaboratively and taking a science-based approach” to the methane problem.
So the president of Shell doesn’t think that Shell’s sponsorship of the study is anything to worry about–that’s not a big surprise. But the guy from the Council on Foreign Relations didn’t see any “red flags”–that’s reassuring, right?