Here's what happened:
The EPA's report on fracking came out in early June and a number of news sources, including the local ones, carried a headline that fracking was not a threat to our drinking water. Despite the headline, most of these reports, including the original AP report, featured critics who pointed out that the EPA was not saying that there wasn't any threat to drinking water. Predictably, the Intelligencer chose not to run the original AP article and instead featured a front page article written by reporter Casey Junkins. With the largest font on the front page, the headline proclaimed "EPA: Fracking No Water Threat." Junkin's article featured most of the same points as the AP article except that it did not include the comments from the critics who argued that the EPA had not concluded the water supply was entirely safe.
That weekend EPA officials were questioned about the report. They reaffirmed that the original report did not say that fracking poses no threat to the water supply.
Consequently, that brought us another AP report the following Monday which stated as much. Nationwide, this EPA clarification got far less coverage than the original article. Predictably, neither Wheeling "newspaper" chose to cover the EPA's clarification.
Despite refusing to cover the EPA's clarification, the Intelligencer then attacked the EPA editorially because the EPA had supposedly backed away from the conclusion assigned them by the Intelligencer's original headline and article. (Note here that obviously the Intelligencer was aware that the EPA's scientists were questioning the conclusions that the media had drawn from the research.)
Yesterday Casey Junkins wrote a front-page story, "Science Board to EPA: Try Again on Fracking Study." According to Junkins:
Last week, the agency's Science Advisory Board sent a letter to Administrator Gina McCarthy that questions the EPA's findings in the long-anticipated study the agency released in June. The scientists take particular issue with the EPA's claim that fracking does not lead to "widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources."
As I have already noted, this was not a new story for the Intelligencer -- the June editorial had said as much. Nationwide, there were very few news sources that covered this "new" (but actually "old") story. The AP didn't cover it and it appears that a good deal of Junkins' information came from Think Progress. (Yes, the liberal Think Progress -- and all these years I thought that Ogden computers would self-destruct if it went to sites like Think Progress.) At this point, I will admit that I was confused as to what might be the purpose of covering this story.
It all became clearer this morning when I realize that yesterday's article was to set-up today's editorial, "Is the Science Really Settled?" The editorial claims that the EPA's original conclusion on fracking and the safeness of our drinking water was definitive. (It wasn't - that was the Intelligencer's conclusion and they even criticized the EPA three days later for hedging that conclusion.) Today's editorial notes that the EPA's own Science Advisory Board now questions that conclusion. (Isn't that what scientists are supposed to do and given what was stated by the EPA and printed by other news sources in June, that's not surprising.) From this, the editorial makes a huge logical leap that:
President Barack Obama is fond of insisting "the science is settled" on climate change. But is it? Do some of the studies he and the EPA have used - selectively, it must be noted - require "clarification and additional explanation," too?
Apart from the obvious observation that the editorial is based upon faulty premises and it has nothing to do with climate change, wouldn't this editorial have been stronger if the writer had told us which part of the science of climate change is not "settled," at least according to 97% of the scientific community? And, according to the editorial, it's been "selectively" used by Obama and the EPA? How about just one example to prove the point?
No, it's just another Intelligencer editorial that will say anything to score points against Obama, the EPA and climate change -- even to the point of contradicting what they said in a previous editorial.
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