Lies, Heinz and Volz

Last week Steve Milloy of published an expose’ of a water quality report by University of Pittsburgh gas frack panicker Conrad “Dan” Volz, in which the professor had to issue a revised report after other experts found that — as Volz explained — “numerous references he used in the report were incorrect and/or misstated.” But Milloy identified several errors even in the revised report, in which Volz alleged that the natural gas industry polluted drinking water with carcinogens. Among them, Volz:

  • Demonstrates a lack of understanding and/or a disregard of federal and state environmental standards. For example, he relies heavily on Safe Drinking Water Act maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) that apply only at points of use for actual drinking water supply systems. He wrongly compares effluent discharges from a commercial treatment plant that discharges into a nearly-dead creek to these drinking water standards.
  • Claims exceedances of drinking water standards despite that there are no drinking water intakes or uses – and none are possible because the creek is so polluted from abandoned coal mine discharges for miles above and below the brine treatment facility.
  • Claims limits for contaminants such as strontium that cannot be found in federal or state regulations.
  • Asserts that anglers frequent the stream and that it is listed for trout stocking. But there are no fish to be caught and the stream is not stocked due to mine water pollution that has degraded the entire stream. No trout have been stocked in Blacklick Creek for years.

Volz, who I write about in an upcoming report for Commonwealth Foundation, is one of the beneficiaries of a campaign against natural gas by the Heinz Endowments, chaired by Teresa Heinz Kerry. He is director of Pitt’s Center for Healthy Environments and Communities (CHEC), and was recognized by the Group Against Smog and Pollution for an “environmental hero” award.

Through a $250,000 grant from Heinz, Volz is tasked with finding environmental “threats” and assessing them and the programs that are supposed to make them less threatening. Not surprisingly, as the Post-Gazette reported, Volz “said the early list includes emissions from several coal-fired power plants, water quality in area rivers and coal ash lagoon sites like Beaver County’s Little Blue Run….” He also told the newspaper:

“We want to know what key informants and the public thinks and we’ll be asking questions about threats, sources and problem sites. We’ll be looking at lots of things. Our list of potential threats is already somewhere between 30 and 40.”

Volz makes for an amusing counterpart to Penn State’s Michael Mann. Prone to hyperbole, Milloy had captured a bounty of Volz’s wild warnings (even using profanity) of public health threats posed by hydraulic fracturing and other activities. That video is currently unavailable while Milloy addresses a copyright claim, but in the meantime you can enjoy this clip of Volz voltage: