Friday, December 2, 2011

Duke Researchers Issue Public Challenge To Secretary Krancer

The battle between Duke University researchers and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection just intensified...again.  Secretary Krancer recently attacked research done by Professors Jackson and Vengosh in testimony delivered to Congress, and today Professors Jackson and Vengosh issued a public challenge to Secretary Krancer to cooperate on follow-up research in a piece published  in the Philadelphia Inquirer at

The original Duke Study has both value and flaws, and the researchers made a mistake in publishing an op-ed when the study was released that focused on their personal energy policy recommendations.  Inevitably such policy recommendations take the spotlight from the research to an agenda.  See my comments on May 9, 2011 when the study was issued at But Professors Jackson and Vengosh call for follow-up research is exactly what should happen. 

I hope the Pennsylvania DEP and Professors Jackson and Vengosh stop battling and provide the public with good, credible information.  Doing so would be good for everyone and is vital to informing the discussion and making better decisions.


  1. Concerned ScientistDecember 2, 2011 at 10:27 AM

    The Duke Study had one good piece of information - that no frack fluids or brine were found in any of the wells, even those in Dimock where there was a known problem. That point was treated as trivial when it should have been the focus of the paper.

    The rest of the paper was an abomination. It was really one of the worst scientific papers I have ever read. If one gets down into the details it becomes clear that they too started with the conclusion they wanted and then found data to fit that predetermined conclusion. It was as bad as Howarth et al. and should be consigned to the same junk heap.

    Here is why:

    They had no baseline data meaning they did not sample prior to drilling. they had no idea if the water had methane in it prior to drilling. The Penn State study showed that 24% of wells had methane prior to drilling. Any study of this type that has no baseline data should not be published. This is just bad science.

    They measured 60 samples for methane but only used 34 of them to get their 17-times greater methane within 1km of gas wells than those more than 1km from a gas well. They dropped 26 samples with no explanation. One can't help but wonder if they dropped a bunch of wells that were far from gas wells that had high methane concentrations or wells that were <km that had low concentrations. You don't do that in science - drop data points with no explanation.

    To get the 17-times greater number they carefully selected wells that had little naturally occurring methane for the wells more than a km away and then used a lot of wells near a highly publicized problem in Dimick PA for the wells that were <1km from a gas well. They cherry picked the data in other words to get the worst possible ratio. This too is not how science works. You sample on a grid or in a way that neither focuses on nor avoids known problems.

    They then implied that the increased methane was due to to fracking and went on a long discussion about the EPA, etc. It had nothing to do with fracking. A 10-minute conversation with someone who knew what they were talking about (the DEP for instance) could have cleared that up. The gas came from the aquifer itself or shallow sandstones just below the aquifer. This has been known for decades. The arrogance displayed by this group is what gives professors a bad name. Good scientists do their homework and find out what others have done before.

    In wasn't science. It was advocacy dressed up as science. Jackson wanted to get on NPR and he knew that finding a problem with fracking would do just that. They have deeply confused the issue rather than casting light on it. This paper is anti-science and anti-environment. It was all about Jackson's ego.

  2. That's really not done...An educational institution is not a place of battling out...Both the parties should understand it and stop this nonsense ASAP....