UT Dr Allen woes + Ft Worth ERG Study under serious QUESTION as NC WARN complaint goes viral

Screen shot 2016-06-13 at 10.38.46 AM

link to NC WARN complaint

June 29 2016-updated with desmogblog.com story here and here is my blog related
to the UT study and a flyover/EDF report.
end update——–
A couple years ago I blogged that Dr Allen, a chemistry professor from UT Austin Cockrell School of Engineering (who Rex Tillerson of Exxon pledged $5 million to the school), gave a Barnett Shale related air quality presentation at the North Central Texas Council Of Governments to TCEQ on April 17, 2014. His work (and his work as head of EPA’s Science Advisory Board between 2012 & 2013) is being challenged because of a wacky methane detector who’s inventor alerted folks that it was not a reliable device under certain conditions. The software has since been updated to reduce the malfunction episodes. The dang device is CURRENTLY being used to double check Dr Allens group’s data and they are duplicating the tests to ensure correct methane loss readings. BUT year$ & lotsa money has passed with this Bacharach problem thus far. At the end of the day…we should have NEVER allowed such a grand fracking build out and trust that the science would catch up….we are still trying to find the right testing equipment dah! 
Alarmingly last year ClimateNews reported of the Bacharach High Flow Sampler (BHFS)- I boldfaced for emphasis…“The authors cited eight scientific studies that could be affected, including several by the federal government, one from the city of Fort Worth, Texas, and two from the Environmental Defense Fund’s sweeping effort to understand the natural gas industry’s methane emissions. In addition, the Bacharach is frequently used by the industry for maintenance, testing and fulfilling compliance requirements”.

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Ft Worth ERG study

 The defect in the monitor was described in the NY Times as “…tool uses two sensors: one for low levels of methane emissions and one for higher levels. As methane levels rise beyond the capacity of the first sensor, the device hands off to the second, high-level sensor.

Mr. Howard found that under some conditions, unless the sampler is carefully and frequently recalibrated, the switchover from the first sampler to the second can fail. When that occurs, the device does not measure the amount of methane that the second sensor would capture, and so it underrecords methane leakage rates”.

 
—– Forwarded Message —–
From: kim feil <kimfeil@sbcglobal.net>
To: “ncwarn@ncwarn.org” <ncwarn@ncwarn.org>; “jrunkle@pricecreek.com” <jrunkle@pricecreek.com>
Sent: Monday, June 13, 2016 10:22 AM
Subject: Fw: Erratic gizmo helps ignite methane controversy
Thank you for your complaint…additionally, Dr Allen’s “school” received $5 million from Exxon/Tillerson family days before he gave an ozone presentation in Arlington back n April of 2014. Lots of information on my blog good, bad, & ugly along with Dr Allen “admitting” understated methane readings. “Bottom-up studies are telling us the sources of some emissions are higher than we thought,” said David Allen, the University of Texas professor who led the study.”
I hope my long winded blog which serves as MY or society’s database for future lawsuits is helpful in some way.

—– Forwarded Message —–
From: ronald gulla <fight848@gmail.com>
To: kim feil <kimfeil@sbcglobal.net>
Sent: Monday, June 13, 2016 9:14 AM
Subject: Re: Erratic gizmo helps ignite methane controversy

 

On Jun 13, 2016 9:23 AM, “Bolstrum, Susan” <sbolstrum@pa.gov> wrote:

http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/2016/06/13/stories/1060038697

Erratic gizmo helps ignite methane controversy

Gayathri Vaidyanathan, E&E reporter                 June 13, 2016
U.S. EPA is reviewing a complaint filed by an environmental group last week alleging that a scientist on the agency’s advisory board committed fraud.
The Environmental Defense Fund is also implicated in the complaint. EDF provided $2.3 million to the scientist, David Allen, a professor of environmental engineering at the University of Texas, Austin, who measured methane leakage from specific pieces of equipment on well pads. Allen was the head of EPA’s Science Advisory Board between 2012 and 2013.
The complaint, filed by NC Warn, alleges that the data collected during the study is suspect because the underlying instrument was prone to underestimating methane leaks under certain conditions. It claims that Allen failed to investigate the possibility thoroughly when alerted to it. EDF and EPA, the group alleges, were complicit since they did not challenge Allen “due to his stature.”
The complaint requests EPA’s inspector general to open an investigation of fraud, waste and abuse by “a high-ranking EPA official leading to the severe underreporting and lack of correction of methane venting and leakage throughout the US natural gas industry.”
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and the primary component of natural gas. It leaks during the process of fossil fuel extraction and helps warm the planet. EPA has found that the oil and gas industry is the second largest methane source in the United States, and it began regulating some of the industry’s emissions last month.

Timeline of the controversy

May – December 2012David Allen and colleagues sample methane leaks at oil and gas sites using the Bacharach Sampler.
September 2013Phase 1 study finds oil fields leak slightly less methane than federal government estimates; UT team begins Phase 2 study.
October 2013Touché Howard informs Allen of a potential problem with the measuring device.
June 2014Howard agrees to sign nondisclosure agreement to access Phase 1 raw data to spot errors in first study; UT declines.
Howard decides to publish his concerns about the sampler; EDF’s Steve Hamburg suggests Howard leave UT Phase 1 study out of his critique.
July – December 2014Hamburg ensures a thorough internal review.
Compiled by ClimateWire based on internal emails.
One of the studies that helped inform the methane regulations was Allen’s 2013 study, which found that natural gas sites in the U.S. release less methane than EPA stated at the time (EnergyWire, Sept. 17, 2013). The study was widely hailed by industry, particularly because it contradicted other studies that had found higher leakage rates.
Almost immediately, the study’s methods were challenged by an independent scientist, according to private emails and research reviewed by ClimateWire. The disagreement began in 2013, escalated in private exchanges the next year, spilled over into scientific literature in 2015 and has now led to the complaint being filed with EPA’s inspector general. The controversy has put EDF and Allen in the unusual position of having energy industry groups, which typically criticize studies on methane leakage, come to theirdefense.
The emails reveal that Allen and his colleagues shared their work with the American Petroleum Institute while it was in progress.
The scientist challenging EDF and Allen is Touché Howard, a retired consultant who invented a device called the Bacharach Sampler that the University of Texas team used to measure methane. The device, which resembles a backpack, sucks in air like a vacuum cleaner and then isolates the amount of methane contained in the airstream. It allows scientists to quantify the rate at which gas is escaping from valves, pneumatic controllers or pipelines.
The UT team had been unaware in 2012 when it measured methane in the field that the device malfunctioned under certain conditions, according to Howard and emails. ClimateWire reviewed a mix of correspondence, including emails given to the publication by Howard. Other emails were reviewed on MuckRock, a website where documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests are posted.
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“The instrument loses its mind,” said Thomas Ferrara, a former colleague of Howard who has used the Bacharach extensively. “It’ll go 0.2, then it’ll go 1, then 0.2, then 2, then 0.5. It just starts bouncing around endlessly. It’s meaningless numbers.”
Whether this malfunction affected the UT measurements remains in contention. NC Warn, on behalf of Howard, alleges it did.
Brian Lamb, a professor of chemical engineering at Washington State University who collaborated with Allen and who has also worked with Howard on a different project, said that the instrument could be faulty.
“I think there definitely was an issue with the sampler,” he said. “The thing we don’t know was how widespread that issue was, how often it happened and how much it affected the data set. After the fact, it was hard to go back and recreate what the samplers was doing.”
Lauren Whittenberg, an EDF spokeswoman, said the sampler was used for just two of the five emissions sources quantified in the study. The study itself is just one of 16 studies on methane emissions organized by EDF, most of which have pointed to problems with methane leakage, she said.
“Even if one were to set aside Dr. Allen’s work entirely — which we are in no way suggesting — the overall results of this research continue to paint a clear, consistent and robust picture of a significant problem that had been largely overlooked or ignored for years, and one that is much larger than either industry or government had previously recognized,” Whittenberg said in an email.
API did not return ClimateWire’s request for comment by deadline.
Allen said in a statement that he stands by the 2013 study and the scientists made redundant measurements to ensure accuracy.
“Our study team strongly asserts that the instrument we used and the measurements we made were not impacted by the claimed failure,” he said. “We note that the measurements with the [sampler] were made directly by highly trained personnel who operated the instrument within inches to feet of emissions being measured. At the emission rates for which the instrument failure is proposed, most of the emissions would be audible, and possibly detectable by odor.”
The journal in which the study was published, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is reviewing the allegations and will bring it to the attention of the editorial board.

An inventor’s warnings

The UT study was launched in response to the prevalent confusion in 2012 over how much methane was leaking from well pads. One of the key criteria for the study was transparency, particularly since the scientists were working in close collaboration with nine energy companies.
The scientists began their field measurements using the Bacharach instrument between May and December 2012.
When their work was published in 2013, Howard, the inventor of the instrument at the heart of the study, realized that the study’s data set may have been compromised. He alerted Allen to the possibility that the instrument may have underestimated methane emissions in some parts of the country.
To Howard, the problem was not the underestimate as much as the fact that the limitations of the Bacharach Sampler would go unnoticed. The tool is widely used in industry to measure and report methane emissions to EPA. The flaw could lead to faulty methane emissions data nationwide.
Although Howard was the inventor, he no longer works for the manufacturer of the device.
Following Howard’s warning, Allen agreed to look into the problem. In March 2014, two years after the data was collected, Allen and Howard field-tested the Bacharach Sampler owned by UT and did not find major problems. But there was a crucial difference, according to emails reviewed by ClimateWire. The software of the device had been upgraded, which reduced the frequency of malfunction.
Howard remained convinced that the 2013 study had been compromised by the older Bacharach Samplers due to some telltale patterns in the data. He wrote to Allen, EDF and API repeatedly about it. He asked Allen for the raw data so he could reanalyze the measurements, even agreeing to sign a nondisclosure agreement to get access.
Allen initially agreed to provide Howard with the data but later rescinded the offer.
In June 2014, Howard wrote to Steve Hamburg of EDF about the issue. He informed Hamburg that he was planning to publish a scientific study about the problems with the Bacharach Sampler.
Hamburg requested that Howard leave out the 2013 study, according to emails. Hamburg also told the concerned scientist that EDF would examine the issue.
“We have tried throughout our collective efforts to bring good data to the issue of methane emissions to ensure that there is transparency among the various teams,” Hamburg wrote. “Towards that end it seems like getting a group of experts who have not been involved in the studies in question to look at the issues you raise continues to be worth the investment. My instinct is to get that process moving quickly.”
Yesterday, EDF acknowledged that review process didn’t occur. Whittenberg said Hamburg offered to initiate a limited review that would not question the findings in Allen’s published paper.
“Since EDF did not carry out this research, we are not in a position to independently verify the results,” Whittenberg said in an email. “Nor would it be appropriate for us to try to do so outside the established process of scientific peer review. We also offered to Mr. Howard to set up a third party review process in which both parties would participate — Mr. Howard declined.”
In 2015, Howard published his concerns in Environmental Science & Technology. Allen challenged those claims in the same journal. Resolving whether the data set was faulty might be difficult in retrospect, acknowledged Ferrara, Howard’s former colleague.
The best chance now might be an independent group of researchers who are retracing the footsteps of Allen and the UT team and measuring methane leaks independently. Those scientists are also using the Bacharach, but they are making careful, duplicative measurements, Ferrara said.
 

——end email string-begin new one——

—– Forwarded Message —–
From: kim feil <kimfeil@sbcglobal.net>
To: Tom Edwards <tom.edwards@fortworthtexas.gov>
Cc: Jim Bradbury <jim@bradburycounsel.com>; “bradley.hodges@ftworthgov.org” <bradley.hodges@ftworthgov.org>; “allison.grey@fortworthtexas.gov” <allison.grey@fortworthtexas.gov>; “howard.redfearn@mansfield-tx.gov” <howard.redfearn@mansfield-tx.gov>; District6 <district6@fortworthtexas.gov>; District4 <district4@fortworthtexas.gov>; District7 <district7@fortworthtexas.gov>; District3 <district3@fortworthtexas.gov>; District5 <district5@fortworthtexas.gov>; District2 <district2@fortworthtexas.gov>; District8 <district8@fortworthtexas.gov>; District9 <district9@fortworthtexas.gov>; Betsy Price <betsy.price@fortworthtexas.gov>; “district3@fortworthgov.org” <district3@fortworthgov.org>; “district7@fortworthgov.org” <district7@fortworthgov.org>; “district9@fortworthgov.org” <district9@fortworthgov.org>; “district2@fortworthgov.org” <district2@fortworthgov.org>; “district8@fortworthgov.org” <district8@fortworthgov.org>; “district4@fortworthgov.org” <district4@fortworthgov.org>; “district5@fortworthgov.org” <district5@fortworthgov.org>; “district6@fortworthgov.org” <district6@fortworthgov.org>; Melinda Brittain <melinda@cityofdwg.net>; Chad Bailey <cbailey@pantego.org>; “csherrill@pantego.com” <csherrill@pantego.com>; “cwhitehead@pantego.com” <cwhitehead@pantego.com>; Grandprairiechamber Info <info@grandprairiechamber.org>
Sent: Tuesday, June 14, 2016 8:14 AM
Subject: Fw: HiFlowSampler needs daily calibration & repeat test if Bacaharach Mfg
While we wait for the science to catch up to the fracking build out to invent a reliable highflow gas sampler, please ensure your high flow meters:
1) have the newest software installed
2) are calibrated daily
3) back up test (test twice or use a different device)
— Forwarded Message —–
From: kim feil <kimfeil@sbcglobal.net>
To: Collin Gregory <collin.gregory@arlingtontx.gov>; “jessica.minley@arlingtontx.gov” <jessica.minley@arlingtontx.gov>; Maria Carbajal <maria.carbajal@arlingtontx.gov>; “john.dugan@arlingtontx.gov” <john.dugan@arlingtontx.gov>; Jay W. White <jay.white@arlingtontx.gov>; Don Crowson <don.crowson@arlingtontx.gov>; Jim Self <jim.self@arlingtontx.gov>; Jaret Wessel <jaret.wessel@tceq.texas.gov>; Chris Kite <chris.kite@tceq.texas.gov>; NCTCA Group <nctca@googlegroups.com>
Cc: Robert Rivera <robert.rivera@arlingtontx.gov>
Sent: Monday, June 13, 2016 12:23 PM
Subject: HiFlowSampler needs daily calibration if Bacaharach Mfg
“The Bacharach sampler functioned correctly when calibrated daily and when it was installed with a specific version of the instrument’s software released in April 2012”Reported InsideClimateNews
Does any of our gas well inspectors use these devices? Please alert our operators of the need to daily calibrate on affected devices by Bacharach Mfg.
—– Forwarded Message —–
From: kim feil <kimfeil@sbcglobal.net>
To: “tom.edwards@fortworthtexas.gov” <tom.edwards@fortworthtexas.gov>
Cc: “allison.grey@fortworthtexas.gov” <allison.grey@fortworthtexas.gov>; Jim Bradbury <jim@bradburycounsel.com>; “bradley.hodges@ftworthgov.org” <bradley.hodges@ftworthgov.org>
Sent: Monday, June 13, 2016 11:54 AM
Subject: request ERG retest with improved High Flow Sampler if Bacharach mfg.
Please advise if ERG study used affected HiFlowSampling device and if your contract with ERG can force them to retest.
If not, taxpayers money was wasted and the city should consider their own complaint/law suit to get the proper methane readings you paid for.
Thanks
—– Forwarded Message —–
From: kim feil <kimfeil@sbcglobal.net>
To: “mike.pring@erg.com” <mike.pring@erg.com>
Sent: Monday, June 13, 2016 11:21 AM
Subject: Q on high flow sampler used on Ft Worth Barnett Shale air study

 

Can you tell me who the manufacturer was of the High Flow Sampler. Was it purchased from Bacharach Inc.?Inline image
If so, does the City of Ft Worth need to have you retest with the updated software versions that have less episodes of malfunctioning/under-reporting of methane losses?
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About Kim Triolo Feil

Since TX Statute 253.005 forbids drilling in heavily settled municipalities, I unsuccessfully ran for City Council Seat to try to enforce this. Since Urban Drilling, our drinking water has almost tripled for TTHM's. Before moving to Arlington in 1990, I lived in Norco’s “cancer alley”, a refinery town. It was only after Urban Drilling in Arlington did I start having health effects. After our drill site was established closest to my home, the chronic nosebleeds started. I know there are more canaries here in Arlington having reactions to our industrialized airshed (we have 55-60 padsites of gas wells). Come forward and report to me those having health issues especially if you live to the north/northwest of a drill site so I can map your health effects on this blog. My youtube account is KimFeilGood. FAIR USE NOTICE: THIS SITE MAY CONTAIN COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL THE USE OF WHICH HAS NOT ALWAYS BEEN SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED BY THE COPYRIGHT OWNER. MATERIAL FROM DIVERSE AND SOMETIMES TEMPORARY SOURCES IS BEING MADE AVAILABLE IN A PERMANENT UNIFIED MANNER, AS PART OF AN EFFORT TO ADVANCE UNDERSTANDING OF THE SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUES ASSOCIATED WITH EMINENT DOMAIN AND THE PRIVATIZATION OF PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE (AMONG OTHER THINGS). IT IS BELIEVED THAT THIS IS A 'FAIR USE' OF THE INFORMATION AS ALLOWED UNDER SECTION 107 OF THE US COPYRIGHT LAW. IN ACCORDANCE WITH TITLE 17 USC SECTION 107, THE SITE IS MAINTAINED WITHOUT PROFIT FOR THOSE WHO ACCESS IT FOR RESEARCH AND EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES. FOR MORE INFORMATION, SEE: HTTP://WWW.LAW.CORNELL.EDU/ TO USE MATERIAL REPRODUCED ON THIS SITE FOR PURPOSES THAT GO BEYOND 'FAIR USE', PERMISSION IS REQUIRED FROM THE COPYRIGHT OWNER INDICATED WITH A NAME AND INTERNET LINK AT THE END OF EACH ITEM. (NOTE: THE TEXT OF THIS NOTICE WAS ALSO LIFTED FROM CORRIDORNEWS.BLOGSPOT.COM)
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