Comings and Goings in Frackademia
Thanks to reporting by Steve Horn and others, here is a summary of recent events in the world of "frackademia" (the pseudo-science practiced at our great- and not-so-great universities-for-hire).
- On December 6, the University of Texas has "... accepted the findings of a damning independent review of the preparation of a report on potential impacts of shale gas drilling by the school’s Energy Institute. The school said it will undertake six recommended actions, the most significant being the withdrawal of papers from the Energy Institute’s Web site related to the report until they are submitted for fresh expert review. In its news release, the university said that the lead investigator, Professor Chip Groat, retired last month and the institute’s director, Raymond Orbach, resigned." [quoted from The New York Times.]
Steve Horn notes that Professor Groat received more than double his academic salary through payments from the oil and gas industry. He was the lead author on an industry-commissioned (but not disclosed) "study" called "Separating Fact from Fictioin in Shale Gas Development," which has been cited as "independent science" bearing the imprimatur of the University of Texas.
- As reported previously, faculty at the State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNY-AB) recommended closing it's "Shale Resources and Society Institute". On November 19, the University President did just that (as reported here). The precipitating event was the publication of a paper called "Environmental Impacts During Shale Gas Drilling: Causes, Impacts and Remedies". All the co-authors of this "study" have strong industry ties.
- Also on December 6, faculty at the Community College of Philadelphia have called on the College to "... immediately sever all ties to the Marcellus Shale Coalition [the gas industry's lobbying and public relations umbrella] and halt the implementation of any workforce training efforts related to the shale-gas fracking industry." (See our full story here).
- On the other side of the ledger, the University of Michigan appears ready to leap into to gap which other institutions have opened. Another report from Steve Horn notes that the University will be conducting a two-year "study" on the ecological impacts of fracking, with a "steering committee" larded with industry "experts".