A study, purported to be from the CSIRO, that showed that fracking was “safe for the environment” was actually overseen by the gas industry, and was based on just six of Queensland’s 19,000 coal seam gas wells, according to this analysis by The Australia Institute.

The report was published by the Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA) but was presented by the industry and Federal Resource Minister Keith Pitt as “CSIRO report confirms CSG fracking is safe for the environment.”

Key findings:

  • Australia Institute analysis found that while the GISERA research may be able to provide data about fracking activities at the six Origin Energy wells examined in the research over a six month period, it says nothing about the wider population (99.97%) of wells of Coal Seam Gas (CSG) wells in QLD or even about those six wells before or after that period. That is because:
  • The selection of the sites was effectively outsourced to the target company (Origin Energy) and as such is subject to potential selection bias.
  • Even if the wells were randomly selected, the small sample of wells studied means that it would have little chance of finding serious cases of contamination and a has a 40% margin of error to its findings.
  • The research itself acknowledges the design of the study was specific to activity being carried out at those 6 wells.

This report highlights the perils of industry funding and overseeing research into its own activities.

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