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Methane Testing
Image: SnohomishCounty PublicWorks

Scientist sued over fraudulent fracking methane tests

NC WARN, a US environmental campaign group has lodged federal allegations of scientific fraud against a Texas engineering professor who led key studies into methane leakage at shale gas drilling sites around the USA.

The tests were used by the Environmental Protection Agency to give fracking the green light.  But John Murawski at News Observer reports that testing equipment used for the EPA studies was likely to provide a flattering result for fracking:

“Touché Howard, a Fayetteville engineer who also works as a firefighter in Durham, is involved because he’s a retired chemical engineer who had worked for decades as monitoring natural gas leaks for the oil and gas industry. Howard, 54, invented the HiFlow technology in 1993 that was used in two studies that NC WARN wants the EPA’s inspector general to investigate.”

The group alleges that the scientist who carried out the EPA research knew that the methane monitoring equipment was inadequate and that it would give a result that was favourable to the fracking industry:

“We used the terms ‘scientific fraud’ and ‘coverup’ because we believe there’s possible criminal violations involved.  The consequence is that for the past 3 years the industry has been arguing, based largely on the 2013 study, that emissions are low enough that we shouldn’t regulate them.”

Clearly the case will have implications for fracking elsewhere in the world – including the UK – since much of the evidence used to support fracking comes from the experience of shale drilling in the USA.

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