Bogus Science Peddled by TCEQ

by Published on

If TCEQ disappeared tomorrow, would anyone know the difference?

Sometimes I wonder.

Here’s the latest: After years of citizen complaints about air pollution linked to the natural gas boom in Ft Worth, the agency finally did some air quality testing. TCEQ officials then told the Ft Worth City Council that the tests showed no harmful levels of pollutants. The council, which has been friendly to the gas companies, was evidently pleased; the mayor hailed the good news.

But, lo and behold, the test results came with a hilarious-if-it-weren’t-so-insulting caveat:

This data is for screening purposes only and may include samples that did not meet the established quality control acceptance criteria. This data was not collected, analyzed, or reviewed using the documented quality assurance/quality control protocols defined in the Laboratory and Mobile Monitoring Quality Manual or those defined by the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Conference 2003.

In other words, the state’s “study” was as good as junk.

“That disclaimer is the most absurd statement I’ve seen in a very long time,” Alisa Rich, environmental scientist at Wolf Eagle Environmental, told the FW Weekly.

TCEQ’s excuse is that using certified labs would have taken too long.

Maybe the next time I do a story on TCEQ, I’ll include a fine-print disclaimer that says: “This story is for screening purposes only and may include facts that did not meet established journalistic standards. The information was not collected, reported or fact-checked by myself or an editor according to long-standing protocol as prescribed by the Society of Professional Journalists.”

Forrest Wilder, a native of Wimberley, Texas, is associate editor of the Observer. Forrest specializes in environmental reporting and runs the “Forrest for the Trees” blog. Forrest has appeared on Democracy Now!, The Rachel Maddow Show and numerous NPR stations. His work has been mentioned by The New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Yorker, Time magazine and many other state and national publications. Other than filing voluminous open records requests, Forrest enjoys fishing, kayaking, gardening and beer-league softball. He holds a bachelor's degree in anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin.