Monday, February 20, 2012

New Report on Shale Gas from UT at Austin

The Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin has just come out with a report about the health and environmental impacts of shale gas. The report is intended as a summary of what is known but leaves much to be desired - for example, it does not provide citations to the original research articles that it discusses!

This is odd for a group has wholly swallowed the linear model of science policy: Get the facts straight and the rational, best policy will follow.

The only problem is that we are in post-normal science here: scientific studies are being used as ammunition in political debates. So, the question is: whose science, which facts? Given that as the situation, we need to explicitly handle the moral and political questions and make decisions in a climate of uncertainty. Our position has always been: city government should prioritize health and well-being. There is insufficient evidence to conclude that shale gas development aligns with this priority to further permit the status quo.

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