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FRACKADEMIA

FRACKADEMIA

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Frackademia fact sheet
Frackademia fact sheet

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categoriesBusiness/Law
Published by: James "Chip" Northrup on Jun 04, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/15/2013

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 “ Frackademia” 
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Fact Sheet • May 2013
:$7(5 
W
ith increasingly large cuts to funding adversely impacting universities’ capacity forresearch,
1
more and more schools are turning to corporations and industry-sponsoredorganizations for financial backing to augment budgets and fund research. Universities should bereliable sources of objective and innovative information and development, but, problematically,this conflict of interest compromises the integrity of science.
An extensive review of research projects funded by “BigOil” companies revealed insufficient academic controlby universities, a lack of peer review and undue industryinfluence in choosing research proposals.
2
Not surprisingly,many oil and gas industry-funded academics are promot-ing shale gas development through the controversial prac-tice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.Moreover, the industry has been providing funding forstudies, professorships and capital improvements and isnow looking to expand even further by undertaking frack-ing on an increasing number of college campuses. This cancause health and environmental risks for students and thesurrounding community, and also calls into question theobjectivity of findings from these institutions.
Many Studies Fail to Disclose Links to theOil and Gas Industry
There are multiple well-documented examples of pro-frack-ing studies where the source of funding was not disclosedor authors have professional connections to the oil and gasindustry that were unknown prior to publication. Such inci-dents have led Cary Nelson, past president of the AmericanAssociation of University Professors, to call the lack of disclo-sure in industry-sponsored shale gas research “troubling.”
3
Pro-Fracking Studies and Direct Funding From Industry 
For example, Timothy Considine, a former Penn Stateprofessor, current director of the University of Wyoming’sCenter for Energy Economics & Public Policy and presidentof Natural Resource Economics, Inc.,
4
is a notorious figurein the world of frackademia, often at the center of contro-versy with his many pro-fracking studies.
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 Considine was lead author of a 2009 Penn State studythat predicted a 30 percent decline in drilling if a newseverance tax on fracking and drilling was implementedin Pennsylvania.
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The study was cited in debate aroundthe tax proposal, which ultimately failed.
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After Consi-dine issued a second study in 2010, a group called bothreports into question, citing inflated job estimates andthe absence of sponsorship information.
8
Subsequently,the dean of the Penn State College of Earth and Min-eral Sciences retracted the original version of the study,acknowledging that it was funded by the Marcellus ShaleCoalition,
9
a pro-industry group comprising nearly everymajor fracking company.
10
He called the omission of thesponsor a “clear error.”
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 Just as the Marcellus Shale Coalition funded Considine’scontroversial Penn State studies, in 2011 MIT released
TheFuture of Natural Gas,
a study funded by BP and Shell,among others, that concluded unsurprisingly that naturalgas was a “bridge to a low-carbon future.”
12
 
 
Likewise, the 2012 report
 An Analysis of the EconomicPotential for Shale Formations in Ohio,
funded by the OhioShale Coalition, another natural gas industry group,
13
andproduced by faculty from Cleveland State University, OhioState University and Marietta College,
14
was loaded with“rosy employment statistics,” promising over 65,000 jobsand almost half a billion dollars in tax revenues by 2014from the development of unconventional gas resources.
15
 
Fallacious Findings and Corporate Connections
In February 2012, a study by the University of Texas EnergyInstitute was released claiming that there was “little or noevidence” of a connection between fracking “at normaldepths” and groundwater contamination.
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A review by thewatchdog group Public Accountability Initiative (PAI) un-covered previously undisclosed industry ties of the study’slead author, Charles Groat.
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Groat received over $1.5million in cash and stock compensation between 2006and 2011 from sitting on the board of Plains Explorationand Production Company, an organization that has a majorstake in the fracking debate.
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 The PAI investigation led to an official review by a Univer-sity of Texas panel, which found that the drafts of the paperwere not ready to be considered for release as “fact-based”scientific work and “fell short of contemporary standardsfor scientific work.”
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The panel recommended the study’swithdrawal,
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Groat retired and the head of the EnergyInstitute stepped down from his position.
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Then, in late 2012, the State University of New York atBuffalo shut down its newly opened Shale Resources andSociety Institute
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after it published a report that falselyclaimed that improving technologies and updated regula-tions were making fracking safer, while failing to mentionthe “strong” ties of the report’s authors and reviewers to thegas industry.
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 This study, also led by Considine,
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claimed that the rate of major environmental violations and the total number of en-vironmental events declined from 2008 to 2011 while, in re-ality, both measures increased, according to another analysisby PAI.
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Moreover, the Institute’s co-directors had ties to theindustry: John Martin, who also coauthored the study, hadhis own consulting firm and was a senior advisor to anotherfirm active in the natural gas industry; Robert Jacobi wasemployed by a natural gas company called EQT.
26
Professorships, Building Funds and Other Means of Industry Funding of Universities
Beyond funding individual studies, the industry also fundsendowed professorships and capital improvements asmeans of influence. Chesapeake Energy gave $2.5 mil-lion to the University of Oklahoma to renovate a studentlounge and endow two named professorships.
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Hess Cor-poration gave $4.4 million to the University of Wyomingto help fund that school’s Center for Advanced Oil andGas Technologies Nano Resolution Imaging Laboratory.
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 Hess joined a coalition of donors to the center includingShell and Ultra Petroleum, both members of the MarcellusShale Coalition,
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who donated a total of $10.9 million.
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 Table 1 outlines selected donations by oil and natural gascompanies to universities, although this is by no means anexhaustive list.
Table 1. Selected Donations by Oil and Natural Gas Companies
Donor
Carriozo Oil & Gas ChesapeakeEnergy Hess Corporation ChesapeakeEnergyUltra Petroleum ChesapeakeEnergyAnadarkoPetroleumConocoPhillips
Recipient
Universityof Texas-ArlingtonKansas University University of WyomingUniversity of OklahomaUniversity of WyomingOklahoma State University of WyomingColorado Schoolof Mines
Amount
$5 million$5 million$4.4 million$2.5 million$2 million$2 million$1.5 million$700,000
Year
2010 2012 2013 2008 2012 2011 2008 2011
Purpose
Construction of the Special Events Center
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“An interactive, high-tech auditorium that willanchor Kansas University’s new Energy andEnvironment Center”
32
 Center for Advanced Oil and Gas TechnologiesNano Resolution Imaging Laboratory
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 Renovate a student lounge and endow twonamed professorships
34
 Center for Advanced Oil and Gas TechnologiesNano Resolution Imaging Laboratory
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 “A state-of-the-art natural gas compressiontraining center”
36
 Anadarko Petroleum Corporation EnergyResource Recovery Program Endowment
37
 Marquez Hall building project and several aca-demic departments, faculty and programs
38
 
 
Fracking on Campus: The NewShortsighted and Dangerous Frontier
Some colleges located atop shale reserves have alreadyopened their campuses to fracking in exchange for fundsfrom fees and royalties. This trend conceivably opensuniversities up to even greater control by the industry. Inaddition to compromising the academic integrity of theseinstitutions, fracking on campus can pose potential pub-lic health and environmental risks — putting finite waterresources and air quality in jeopardy — and could affectthose on campus and in the surrounding area.
39
 Since 2008, Carrizo Oil & Gas has been drilling on thecampus of the University of Texas-Arlington,
40
and Chesa-peake Energy is beginning work on a site on Bethany Col-lege (W.Va.) property.
41
Meanwhile, West Liberty Univer-sity (W.Va.) is hoping to pay for a new science center withan upfront payment on a drilling lease, and Alderson-Broaddus College (W.Va.) wants to fund millions in cam-pus enhancements with its potential leasing revenues.
42
 Ohio passed a law in 2011 allowing drilling on state-owned land, including public universities.
43
Although itis currently trying to maintain its power to veto frackingon campus, Ohio University reportedly has already beenapproached by both Chesapeake Energy and ExxonMobilabout leasing drilling sites on its Eastern campus.
44
A similar bill passed by the Pennsylvania legislature andsigned into law by Governor Tom Corbett in 2012 openedup the 14 universities in the state university system to drill-ing, including six schools that sit on top of or adjacent tothe Marcellus Shale.
45
The law directs that 50 percent of allrevenues go directly back to the university where the drill-ing takes place, with 15 percent dedicated to subsidizingstudent tuition and the remaining 35 percent spread acrossthe state university system.
46
Gas companies are also looking outside the better-knownMarcellus and Utica Shales in the Mid-Atlantic and areconsidering opportunities to expand southward intothe Chattanooga shale play in Kentucky, Tennessee andAlabama.
47
For example, the University of Tennessee isconsidering opening up thousands of acres of its land fora fracking research project.
48
Despite protests from bothinside and outside of the university community,
49
the StateBuilding Commission unanimously approved the project inmid-March 2013,
50
enabling the university to begin solicit-ing bids from natural gas companies.
51
This situation isunique, because although there has been industry-fundedfracking research at certain colleges, and others haveallowed companies to frack their land in order to bringroyalty money to the school, this may be the first time thata college would use money from the fracking activity toalso fund research.
52
If the University of Tennessee opens up fracking in theCumberland Research Forest, which has undertaken wild-life management and ecosystem restoration projects forover 60 years,
53
the land clearing, air and water pollutionand increased traffic that accompany fracking could have apotentially devastating impact on these long-term researchefforts and could counter environmental and ecologicalrestoration research goals conducted on university land.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Industry funding of studies and universities presents asignificant challenge to academic integrity, and the latestopportunity for influence — fracking on campus — canalso endanger public health and the environment. To turnback this tide of influence, Food & Water Watch recom-mends that:
s
Universities should not allow any pro-fracking interestor organization to directly fund studies, and should notallow faculty with extensive industry ties to publishstudies on fracking;
s
Universities should adhere to strict academic guide-lines when publishing studies about fracking, includ-ing stringent peer review, to minimize the chance forquestionable studies;
s
The federal government should increase fundingfor fracking research, so that universities do not feelobliged to produce pro-industry findings to suit thefunder’s agenda; and
s
Fracking should be banned on all college campusesand properties.
PHOTO CC-BY © VALERIUS TYGART / COMMONS.WIKIMEDIA.ORG
Scenic view of Philippi, West Virginia, home to Alderson-Broaddus College.

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