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Environmental Defense Fund Greenwashing

Environmental Defense Fund Greenwashing

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Frackademic writes greenwash for Environmental Defense Fund
Frackademic writes greenwash for Environmental Defense Fund

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Published by: James "Chip" Northrup on Sep 16, 2013
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09/16/2013

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From: Kevin Connor, Public Accountability Initiative, public-accountability.orgTo: Interested reportersDate: September 16, 2013Re: Conflicts of Interest in New Fracking Emissions Study
 A new study of the methane emissions associated with hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, or fracking, is being published today in the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
. Thestudy claims that methane emissions associated with fracking are 0.42% of gross gasproduction. Other studies have previously contended that leakage rates are much higher, andtherefore destructive from a climate perspective.
1
While a full review of the methodology and results of the latest study is in order, a preliminarylook at the key players involved suggests an improper degree of industry influence and aninsufficient level of conflict of interest disclosure.
Most significantly, at least one author of the study has a significant conflict of interestthat went undisclosed in the article
. The authors of the study declared no conflicts of interest,according to the article, but one author, Jennifer Miskimins, is currently the employee of apetroleum engineering firm, Barree & Associates, and has been since 2012. The firm offers arange of consulting services related to fracking. The paper lists her affiliation as Colorado Schoolof Mines. The lack of disclosure is a red flag that suggests that the authors of the study did notadhere to
PNAS
’s conflict of interest policy, and that other authors may have consultingarrangements and other industry connections that should have been disclosed in the article. According to
PNAS
’s conflict of interest policy, the journal may publish an erratum or restrictauthors from publishing in the journal for a period of time if they are found to be in violation of theconflict of interest policy.Beyond authorship, the industry sponsorship of the study raises conflict of interest questions, aswell. While the sponsors are disclosed in the body of the article, no information is offered abouthow conflicts of interest were managed to assure the independence of the research. Theinvolvement of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), is also cause for concern, given its rolein endorsing flawed pro-fracking studies from the University at Buffalo and the University at
1
http://www.sustainablefuture.cornell.edu/news/attachments/Howarth-EtAl-2011.pdf 
 
Texas. Sponsors of EDF’s methane emissions work also have industry ties and deserve criticalscrutiny.This PAI brief offers preliminary information about each of these issues.
I. Undisclosed Conflict of Interest & Possible Violation of 
PNAS 
Policya. Authors & Industry Ties
The
PNAS
article states that “The authors declare no conflict of interest,” but at least one author appears to have a significant financial conflict of interest:
Jennifer Miskimins
is currently asenior consulting engineer at Barree & Associates, a petroleum engineering firm which offers“consulting services for companies worldwide, specializing in stimulation and well performanceoptimization.” The firm offers fracturing related services, including “performance optimization,”
2
“horizontal well stimulation design,” and “fluid and proppant selection.”
3
Miskimins joined the firm in 2012, prior to the completion and submission of the study, but her affiliation is listed only as “Department of Petroleum Engineering, Colorado School of Mines” in
PNAS
. According to LinkedIn, her associate professorship at the school was not current as of 2012.
4
 At the Colorado School of Mines, Miskimins was the director of the Fracturing AcidizingStimulation Technology (FAST) Consortium from 2004 until joining Barree & Associates.(Miskimins still has a Colorado School of Mines website that lists her as the FAST Consortiumdirector). The FAST Consortium is a joint industry and university research center focused on oiland gas well stimulation. Membership in the consortium costs $15,000 plus an unspecified
5
initial buy-in, according to Miskimins’s bio, for which companies receive “access to all FASTConsortium project results through annual meetings and executive style reports.” Member 
6
companies come from all oil and gas industry sectors and include Anadarko Petrolum, BGGroup, Barree & Associates, Encana Oil & Gas, and Shell.
7
Other authors also have industry ties, though Miskimins’ industry connection is the mostsignificant on its face. According to University of Texas conflict of interest disclosure formswhich PAI obtained through a freedom of information request, lead author 
David T. Allen
reportssome industry compensation, including travel sponsored by ExxonMobil, apparently to advise it
2
http://www.barree.net/about-us.html
3
http://barree.net/consulting.html
4
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/jennifer-miskimins/4/347/629
5
http://petroleum.mines.edu/research/fast/index.html
6
http://inside.mines.edu/~jmiskimi/
7
http://petroleum.mines.edu/research/fast/memberco.html
 
on its “corporate strategic research” program. ExxonMobil’s fracking subsidiary XTO Energy is
8
a sponsor of the study.Two study authors,
Matthew Harrison
and
Al Hendler 
, work as project managers for URSCorporation, a service provider to the oil and gas industry. In 2012, URS acquired Flint EnergyServices, an oil and gas construction firm. On its website URS identifies itself as “a leading
9
provider of of design, construction and production services across the upstream, midstream anddownstream supply chain,” with expertise in conventional and unconventional plays, includingshales and oil sands, as well as “established long-term relationships with some of the world’slargest oil and gas companies.” Hendler is a specialist in air quality monitoring and data
10
analysis and Harrison is a senior greenhouse gas project manager according to their LinkedInprofiles.
11
 Another study author,
A. Daniel Hill
, is chair of the petroleum engineering department at Texas A&M. His online profile lists a number of fracking-related “research and consulting” activities, butit does not say whether he is consulting for any industry entities. His profile also states that heholds five patents for various “oil recovery and well injection processes.”
12
b. PNAS Conflict of Interest Policy
The failure to disclose Miskimins’ conflict of interest and other industry ties may constitute aviolation of the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
conflict of interest policy.
13
The policy states: Authors are required during submission of their manuscripts to complete the onlinedeclaration form and to disclose any conflict of interest. The corresponding author mustensure that all authors have been asked to disclose any conflicts of interest.PNAS’s definition of a potential conflict is broad, including everything from honoraria to personalfriendships and public associations, and would appear to cover many of the relationshipsdetailed above:Divulging a potential conflict usually does not invalidate the research or the comments of 
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Financial Interest Disclosure and Outside Employment forms of David T.Allen
9
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/8b3d7000-5c19-11e1-bbc4-00144feabdc0.html
10
http://www.urscorp.com/Markets/index.php?s=39
11
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/al-hendler/15/849/714
and 
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/matthew-harrison/16/217/933
12
http://www.pe.tamu.edu/hill/index.html
13
http://www.pnas.org/site/authors/coi.xhtml

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