Paonia scientist nominated to serve on national frac’ing panel
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Theo Colborn, a scientist living in Paonia who has published papers arguing that chemicals used by the gas drilling industry have serious potential health hazards, has been nominated to serve on a national panel looking into that very topic.
But a petroleum industry advocacy group has objected to her nomination, maintaining that she is too biased against the industry to be qualified for the panel.
The panel, which would advise the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concerning an EPA study of hydraulic fracturing techniques and the chemicals involved, is now being formed. Colborn is one of 82 potential panelists.
The EPA announced plans to study the “hydro-fracturing” issue, also known as “frac’ing,” in May of this year, in response to directions from Congress.
The oil and gas industry has been asked by the EPA to supply detailed information about all the chemicals used in frac’ing a well, which involves the injection of up to a million gallons of fluids, sand and chemicals into a well bore to break up deeply buried rock formations and free up trapped gas and oil reserves.
In a Sept. 29 letter to the EPA, Barry Russell, President and CEO of the Independent Petroleum Association of America [IPAA] wrote that his association strongly “supports the creation of an advisory panel” and that it “is encouraged to see individuals with diverse, well-established technical backgrounds and a wide-range of general talents and experience – from geologists, mathematicians and engineers, to hydrologists, oceanographers and public health professionals. There even appears to be a poet on this list.”
But the letter was critical of some nominees, whose “past comments betray a strong and unambiguous antipathy toward shale development in general, and hydraulic fracturing in particular,” according to the industry’s viewpoint.
Although the letter does not name Colborn, according to press accounts, other documents do identify her as one of the scientists in question.
The letter also specifically mentions a “white paper” published by one of the targeted nominees, the description of which fits a study recently released by Colborn’s organization, The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, in association with her partners, Carol Kwiatkowski, Kim Schultz and Mary Bachran (see related story, page A1).
Colborn could not be reached for comment on Friday concerning this story, but an associate at TEDX said there is no way of knowing when the makeup of the panel will be announced.
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