A Yale researcher’s latest attempt to blame fracking for increased cases of sexually transmitted infections produced inconsistent conclusions that ignore trends seen elsewhere, but still prompted headlines claiming a link between shale operations and disease.

The Yale School of Public Health team that includes Nicole C. Deziel recently published a study linking hydraulic fracturing operations to two sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Texas. The study states:

“Associations between shale drilling and chlamydia and gonorrhea in Texas may reflect increased risk in areas with higher drilling activity and a greater number of major metropolitan areas.”

Notably, the researchers said they found “no statistically significant associations for any STIs” in Colorado and North Dakota – two states that are also major oil and natural gas producers. The reason given for the spike in certain Texas counties was the influx of non-local workers to these counties. But one would expect to also see the same trend in other states where the industry attracts non-local workers.

The study also fails to mention the rise in overall national STI rates recently reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. According to the CDC, combined cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia have recently reached an all-time high.

This study is not the first time Deziel has attempted to find a connection between oil and natural gas operations and STIs. In a previous study, Deziel and others claimed STI rates in Ohio’s oil and gas producing counties are above other counties — even though state health data show chlamydia and gonorrhea rates are significantly lower in Ohio oil and gas producing counties than both the state and national average.

The latest study’s conclusion notes that different findings among the states “highlight the need for local epidemiology” and includes a disclaimer:

“Future studies, including surveys of the sexual behaviors of workers, sexual behaviors of community members, and sexual mixing patterns could shed additional light on the possible mechanism underlying observed associations.”

Even though no clear “mechanism” is determined here – which means an actual cause for any links wasn’t found – that didn’t stop E&E News from declaring in a headline covering the study “Fracking linked to increased sexually transmitted infections.”

This latest study is reaching for a conclusion that is in line with Deziel’s usual anti-fracking argument, instead of following the data and greater context to a clear picture of what’s happening in the regions where American energy is being produced. Local communities and the nation as a whole are experiencing environmental and economic benefits that wouldn’t be possible without shale development.