National Briefs | Experts dispute fracking critics
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In the debate over natural gas drilling, the companies are often the ones accused of twisting the facts. But scientists say opponents sometimes mislead the public, too.
Critics of fracking often raise alarms about groundwater pollution, air pollution and cancer risks, and there are still many uncertainties. But some of the claims have little -- or nothing -- to back them.
For example, reports that breast cancer rates rose in a region with heavy gas drilling are false, researchers told The Associated Press.
Fears that natural radioactivity in drilling waste could contaminate drinking water aren't being confirmed by monitoring, either.
And concerns about air pollution from the industry often don't acknowledge that natural gas is a far cleaner burning fuel than coal.
"The debate is becoming very emotional. And basically not using science" on either side, said Avner Vengosh, a Duke University professor studying groundwater contamination who has been praised and criticized by both sides.
One expert said there's an actual psychological process at work that sometimes blinds people to science, on the fracking debate and many others.
Mark Lubell, the director of the Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior at the University of California, Davis, said the situation is called "motivated reasoning." Rational people insist on believing things that aren't true, in part because of feedback from other people who share their views, he said.
PRINCETON, N.J. -- NRG Energy said Sunday that it reached an agreement to buy wholesale power provider GenOn Energy in an all-stock deal worth about $1.7 billion.
Under terms of the deal, GenOn Energy Inc. shareholders will get 0.1216 of a NRG Energy Inc. share for each of their GenOn shares. Based on NRG's Friday closing stock price, the offer equates to about $2.20 per GenOn share. That represents about an 18 percent premium over Houston-based GenOn's Friday closing stock price.
NRG, based in Princeton, N.J., sells power on the wholesale market and to retail customers in states that have deregulated their electric power industry. It said the acquisition will allow it to cut costs, while boosting efficiency and cash flow.
LOS ANGELES -- Authorities said Sunday they believe Katherine Jackson, the mother of Michael Jackson and the guardian of his three minor children, is safe in Arizona with family members after she was reported missing.
The disclosure came after another concerned family member officially reported her missing Saturday night amid a dispute over the estate of her superstar son.
A person familiar with Ms. Jackson's whereabouts said she is with her daughter Rebbie in Arizona and following a doctor's orders to rest.
ATLANTA -- The stepson of the Grammy award-winning pop star Usher has died, two weeks after the child was critically injured in a boating accident.
Willie A. Watkins funeral home in Atlanta confirmed Saturday it was handling funeral arrangements for 11-year-old Kile Glover. He was a son of Usher's ex-wife Tameka Foster.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Kile died Saturday morning at an Atlanta area hospital.
The boy was run over July 6 by a personal watercraft on Lake Lanier, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
First Published July 23, 2012 12:00 am