An environmental watchdog alleges that the answer may be a years-long, systematic cover-up of the true data surrounding these toxic emissions. That cover-up, the group says, was at the hands of at least one EPA researcher who accepted payments from the oil and gas industry.
In an incendiary federal complaint filed on Wednesday with the EPA’s Inspector General, the 28-year-old North Carolina-based group NC WARN wrote that “there has been a persistent and deliberate cover-up that has prevented the agency from requiring the natural gas industry to make widespread, urgently needed and achievable reductions in methane venting and leakage across the nation’s expanding natural gas infrastructure.”
“Studies relied upon by EPA to develop policy and regulations were scientifically invalid,” the organization charged.
Specifically, wrote NC WARN in a press statement, “Dr. David Allen, then-head of EPA’s Science Advisory Board, has led an ongoing, three-year effort to cover up underreporting of the primary device, the Bacharach Hi-Flow Sampler and a second device used to measure gas releases from equipment across the natural gas industry. Allen is also on the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin, where he has been funded by the oil and gas industries for years.”
“The EPA’s failure to order feasible reductions of methane leaks and venting has robbed humanity of crucial years to slow the climate crisis,” said Jim Warren, director of NC WARN. “The cover-up by Allen’s team has allowed the industry to dig in for years of delay in cutting emissions—at the worst possible time.”
The cover-up was discovered by NC WARN, the group wrote in its complaint, when it became aware that the very inventor of the Bacharach Hi-Flow Sampler, an engineer named Touché Howard, had been attempting to blow the whistle for years on the crucial instrument’s malfunctioning. The critical failure causes the instrument to under-report methane emissions “up to 100-fold,” the organization wrote.
Meanwhile Bernie Sanders’ convention platform picks are leading the fight for Democrats to include a fracking ban in their platform:
AMY GOODMAN: So, Michelle Chan, talk about what is being hammered out. Larry Cohen just mentioned a very different platform, Democratic platform. What does that look like now? What are you recommending?
MICHELLE CHAN: Well, from the environmental point of view, certainly, we hope that we can see, through the platform, the differences that we’ve seen between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton on environmental issues. One of the huge differences between the two is with respect to fracking. Sanders has been really clear from the beginning that he supports a moratorium on all fracking in the United States. That’s a very bold pro-environment stance. And the difference is that Hillary has supported regulation of fracking. So if we are able to see that kind of bold anti-fracking moratorium integrated into the party platform, that would be huge.
A second big priority would be with respect to this new emerging grassroots call to keep it in the ground. In particular, that is referring to an end to all new fossil fuel leases on public lands. And this is a call that Sanders himself has backed. He has co-sponsored legislation to this effect. And it really is the new rallying cry for climate activists in this country. So, an end to all new fossil fuel leases on public lands would be exactly the kind of thing that we would need. It would keep 450 million tons—billion tons of CO2 in the ground. And it is the kind of thing that we need to do in order to check climate change.