Anti-fracking study discredited by Colorado health department

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The public opinion battle over hydraulic fracturing – also called fracking – has escalated with Colorado state public health officials discrediting a popular anti-fracking study that claims this method of gas and oil extraction can cause cancer and birth defects.

Dr. Lawrence Wolk, the chief medical officer of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, took issue with researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health, saying they had cited “minuscule” statistical differences and ignored other factors in producing a report on the negative side effects of fracking.

In a report by the Washington Examiner, reporter Ashe Schow wrote that it was difficult to draw conclusions from the researchers’ study because it did not distinguish between active wells and inactive wells or between vertical, horizontal, oil or natural gas wells. The researchers never considered outside factors that may have resulted in birth defects, such as drinking or smoking, Schow reported.

The full statement by Dr. Wolk appears in Energy in Depth – Mountain StatesThe researchers ignored “many factors” besides natural gas development in their research, and “a reader of the study could easily be misled to become overly concerned,” Wolk said.

The Saint Report has written posts about the land use political battles being waged in states like Colorado and Kentucky where opponents of hydraulic fracturing have pursued ballot initiatives and local referendums to ban fracking, often citing health dangers. The Colorado School of Public Health study was cited by anti-fracking activists in California trying to pressure Gov. Jerry Brown to ban fracking.


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