A couple of stories published in the past couple of days offer intriguing glimpses into the worldwide debate over the profitability and health impacts of shale gas production. The Associated Press on Sunday moved a lengthy report examining the accuracy of Gasland filmmaker Josh Fox's assertion, in a letter to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, that breast cancer rates jumped in the Barnett Shale, but nowhere else in Texas. Researchers from Duke University, the University of Texas Southwestern Health Science Center, Texas Cancer Registry and Susan G. Komen For The Cure all told AP that's not borne out by any evidence they have seen.
Government officials in Pennsylvania likewise reported that their testing has failed to support fears that radioactivity from wastewater posed a threat to rivers and public water supplies, while others said concerns about emissions from natural gas production operations needs to be weighed against the decline in harmful emissions from coal-fired power plants, which are being idled in favor of gas-fired facilities. The Star-Telegram published the story Monday, and a copy is here.
The second item comes from Platts, an information service focused on energy markets. Russian gas giant Gazprom maintains the shale gas boom is unsustainable economically and threatened by regulatory issues, citing research by U.S. firm Pace Global Energy Services. But in a comment that could have come straight out of the Cold War, "Aviezer Tucker, assistant director of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas, says the Russian government is paying public-relations firms to spread 'myths and misconceptions' about fracking so that Romania, Bulgaria, China and other countries will remain viable export markets for conventional Russian gas. 'Where does the money come from to organize such [anti-fracking] demonstrations and brochure writing?' he said in an interview. 'All that seems to point to a common source, which would be Moscow.' " Platts also reported that "Gazprom announced last week that it sent a team of 'technical specialists' to a shale-gas field in China that is being developed by China National Petroleum Corp., the country's largest state-owned oil and gas company. Gazprom, which has been negotiating with Beijing to export Russian gas to China, did not say in its press release why it was sending technical experts to inspect China's shale-gas field" The Platts story is here.
-- Jim Fuquay