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Whistleblower: EPA Official Covered Up Methane Leakage Problems Across US Natural Gas Industry

Inspector General called to investigate scientific fraud that wasted crucial years in slowing climate crisis while risking safety of workers, communities

NC WARN filed a complaint with EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins on June 8, 2016, charging that a high-ranking EPA official connected to the fossil fuel industry committed scientific fraud in a case with sweeping ramifications for global climate change and the safety of workers and neighbors of natural gas sites across much of the United States. We are calling for an expedited investigation due to the urgent climate and safety implications of the EPA’s failure to curb widespread methane emissions.

Leading researchers now consider the natural gas industry to be the foremost greenhouse gas problem in the US, largely due to methane emissions. The alleged fraud wasted crucial years in slowing the climate crisis while putting at risk gas workers and those living near gas facilities.

On July 20, Inspector General Elkins sent us a letter indicating that no investigation would be launched. We replied, reiterating the urgent necessity for an investigation. See links below for complete documentation.

Further updates will be posted here.

Read our news release about the complaint
Original complaint, June 8
Support letter to Inspector General signed by 130 organizations, June 23
Supplemental filing, June 24
Response from the Inspector General, July 20
Our reply, August 4
News release, August 4
Inspector General opens process for evaluating EPA methane emissions estimates, June 21, 2017

Media Coverage

LA Times, 6/8/16: “Key government reports were wrong about methane leaks’ severity, environmental group alleges”
IndyWeek, 6/8/16: “Durham-Based Environmental Group: Government Reports Understate Severity of Methane Emissions Across the U.S., Globally”
Washington Post, 6/9/16: “Methane emissions are extremely harmful, and the government might not know how much there is”
Inside Climate News, 6/9/16: “Environmental Group Alleges Scientific Fraud in Disputed Methane Studies”
Common Dreams, 6/9/16: “Whistleblower: EPA Officials Covered Up Toxic Fracking Emissions for Years”
Facing South, 6/10/16: “Institute Index: Whistleblower complaint charges EPA with methane leak cover-up”
Drill or Drop, 6/11/16: “UK link to alleged under-reporting of fracking methane emissions”
Nation of Change, 6/12/16: “Whistleblower Says EPA Officials Covered Up Toxic Fracking Methane Emissions for Years”
ClimateWire, 6/13/16: “Erratic gizmo helps ignite methane controversy”
News & Observer, 6/13/16: “NC WARN alleges criminal fraud in methane studies at fracking sites “
Austin Sentinel, 6/13/16: “University of Texas professor accused of committing scientific fraud, accepting money from oil & gas industry to conceal fracking harms”
DeSmogBlog, 6/28/16: “High-Level EPA Adviser Accused of Scientific Fraud in Methane Leak Research”
Chemical & Engineering News, 7/11/16: “Pivotal study on methane leaks from U.S. oil and natural gas wells under fire”