Prof. Robert Howarth is known for controversial, anti-fracking studies declaring natural gas as one of the worst environmental polluters. Yesterday, former PA Department of Environmental Protection secretary John Hanger summed up how the unscientific work of Howarth gained media buy-in:
Exactly how Prof. Howarth became the King of Media is now revealed. Bought and paid for by Park Foundation funds, a PR firm–the Hastings Group–was retained to publicize Howarth’s original study and his response to the 6 studies debunking Howarth. …
Money spent on the Hastings Group has been exceptionally productive for Professor Howarth. The Hastings group won a tsunami of press coverage, while most of the media ignored the avalanche of studies debunking Howarth.
Clearly the Sierra Club financed Carnegie Mellon University study that found coal emits twice the carbon as gas had no aggressive PR firm spoon feeding the study to media around the country. It attracted little coverage, despite its high quality. The same fate fell the Worldwatch Institute study and the other reports that reached flatly contradictory results to Howarth.
The huge imbalance in coverage has meant that the public has been badly misinformed about the carbon footprint of gas and coal. The truth has suffered.