Although it’s preferable to ignore (in an effort to retain one’s sanity) the lie machine that purports to warn us of the environmental holocaust hydraulic fracturing will bring, sometimes we have to respond to the truly egregious whoppers that are spun by the far, far kooky left. Like Daily Kos/Bill Maher kooky. One such organization is the innocent sounding PRWatch, a website of the equally innocent sounding Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). The CMD and PRWatch are somewhere left of Vladimir Putin and Fidel Castro, just to provide perspective.
PRWatch published a whopper yesterday that attempts to tie fracking to breast cancer. Just for good measure, the article also says fracking causes spontaneous abortions and birth defects, and is even responsible for crime against women. Who knew?
The article starts out this way:
Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," has generated widespread media attention this year. The process, which injects water and chemicals into the ground to release "natural" gas and oil from shale bedrock, has been shown to contribute significantly to air and water pollution and has even been linked to earthquakes. But little has been reported on the ways in which fracking may have unique impacts on women. Chemicals used in fracking have been linked to breast cancer and reproductive health problems and there have been reports of rises in crimes against women in some fracking "boom" towns, which have attracted itinerant workers with few ties to the community.*
Notice the propagandist’s slight-of-hand argument: The “chemicals used in fracking have been linked to breast cancer.” It doesn’t say that it was chemicals from the fracking process that have been linked, but the chemicals used in the fracking process. And no specific cases are cited as evidence that chemicals used in a fracking operation have done any of these things. (Nevermind that there’s never been a case of underground chemical contamination of water supplies from fracking—a fact that’s always conveniently missing from these discussions.)
Instead, the author attempts to make a bridge between breast cancer and fracking by referring to a six county region in Texas where there’s lots of gas drilling. Breast cancer rates have gone up in that area. When you read the article cited and used as evidence by the author, it says that breast cancer rates in the Dallas-Fort Worth area went from 58.7 cases per 100,000 people in 2005 to 60.7 cases per 100,000 people in 2008—a “jump” of 3 percent. The real kicker (also from the same article): The national average breast cancer rate in 2008 was 127 cases per 100,000 people. That’s right: the rate of cancer in the DFW area where there’s “so much fracking going on” is less than half the national average. Using the whacky logic of the author, you might argue that fracking leads to a decrease in breast cancer.
Put another way, the very same chemicals used in fracking (and in thousands of other industrial processes) are chemicals found in products underneath your kitchen sink. Should we conclude that kitchen sinks cause breast cancer? Or maybe the cupboard where those chemicals are stored is the cause of breast cancer? Ludicrous. But that’s the argument PRWatch wants you to believe about fracking—that its mere presence means it alone is the cause of a devastating form of cancer in women.
It wouldn’t be so bad that these organizations try to spread their sophistry to others, except that the mainstream media won’t be far behind, picking it up and amplifying it to the masses. And a certain segment of society will simply read the headlines and believe it.
Now, back to sanity…
*PRWatch (Apr 4, 2012) – The Fracking Frenzy’s Impact on Women