Researcher data flawed in report on gas fracking

It is unfortunate you chose to headline your story “Report: Gas from ‘fracking’ worse than coal on climate” (April 10) since even the authors admit their data is sketchy at best. These reckless claims fly in the face of mainstream science from qualified experts in this field of scientific research, and simply cannot be supported by dispassionate, fact-driven analysis.

Study author Robert Howarth, an evolutionary biologist, not a climatologist, freely admits that “a lot of the data we used are really low quality,” and his colleague, Anthony Ingraffea, additionally clarifies that he “does not know anything about climate science.” This would explain the avalanche of questionable choices made at virtually every turn in the study’s flawed methodology.

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The report uses a Global Warming Potential number that comes from a single research study. In a 20-year time period, that number is 46 percent higher than the widely embraced 2007 Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s own number.

The study goes on to use “worst-case” assumptions about the leakage rate of methane based on severely limited data from the EPA that the agency itself has warned is not appropriate for large-scale extrapolation. The extreme choices go on, and the net effect is a gross exaggeration of greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas and a headline-grabbing conclusion that is patently false.

Whether through purposeful design or lack of scientific rigor, this report misleads the public about the facts around natural-gas production and usage, and ill-serves the important public debates under way about the risks and benefits of our energy choices as a nation. 

We would have expected a far more skeptical view of such a deeply flawed report by The Hill.

From Tom Amontree, vice president of America’s Natural Gas Alliance, Washington, D.C.

Shame on Democrats

The fearmongering coming from the Democrats is childish, irresponsible and unconscionably hypocritical. Controlled by Democrats, 2010’s House and Senate, along with the president, failed to do their primary job by declining to pass a budget.

The “sleight of hand” rhetoric the Democrats are now employing is sickening: if the government does shut down, the responsibility falls squarely on their own shoulders. The Republicans elected to Congress are doing the job the voters sent them to do.

From Pat Salsbury, South St. Paul, Minn.

No need for budget delay

What a bunch of drama queens in the United States Congress and the White House. The 2011 federal budget was finally finalized early Saturday morning. This should have been done three months ago at the latest, and realistically in 2010 prior to FY 2011 when the Democrats held control over both legislative houses and the White House. Now, the politicians are in their usual self-congratulatory mode notwithstanding their collective negligence over these past months. It’s sickening.

The budget impasse, being unnecessary as it was, involved a linkage between spending and policy issues including abortion and the EPA’s regulatory authority over greenhouse emissions from domestic power plants. The question is, why? Can’t these politicians do anything in an expedient non-drama fashion without non-related amendments and riders to the scope of the primary legislation? Perhaps one should advise this body of alleged leaders of the KISS concept: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

All this budget impasse confusion and panic possibly could very well erupt again next week resulting in another threatened government shutdown when these legislative parties and White House again grandstand prior to voting on a 2012 federal budget. Will it ever end?

What these politicians did to the morale of our American armed forces, federal government employees and their families by this chaos was unconscionable. Our GIs, specifically in Afghanistan, who sleep in the weeds and dirt as well as doing their daily requirements in a trench, were at the mercy of having their pay discontinued by these so-called Washington leaders with their $1,000 suits, $200 haircuts, and $50 fingernail manicures as they preen to media cameras without any shame whatsoever.

Only Providence itself knows what will happen when these politicians get into it this May when the issue of raising the federal debt comes into play. My bet is government debt default.

From Earl Beal, Terre Haute, Ind.

Facebook gets it wrong

The Hill’s profile of Facebook lobbyist Tim Sparapani raises more questions than it does answers about Facebook’s approach to privacy. In the March 29 piece, “The Social Networker,” Sparapani says his central message to policymakers is that “the best solution for privacy in the digital age is to give users maximum control over their personal information.” So why did Facebook launch a program (suspended for now) to enable app developers easy access to users’ addresses and phone numbers?

Sparapani says Facebook’s reliance on accurate biographical data has made the Internet “a better place.” If the information is so accurate, then why are there millions of 11- 12-year-olds on Facebook when the minimum age is supposedly 13? And how much money are Facebook and its third-party partners making by advertising to kids that are not supposed to be on the site in the first place? Sparapani says that Facebook “allows users to correct errors easily, unlike many federal programs.” Does this mean that Facebook will provide users with a tool to actually accomplish what he is saying — like an eraser button that enables users, especially kids, to remove information about themselves immediately?

From Jim Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media, San Francisco, Calif.