Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Shale Gas & Fracking -- Sensitive Topics at UB

Shale gas extraction by the unconventional process of high-volume, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a highly controversial topic in New York State. 

Nicole Manzo /// The Spectrum
The State University of NY (SUNY) and the University of Buffalo (UB) have now made surprise entrances into the fracking fracas. SUNY has signed a $22 million deal to buy natural gas extracted by fracking, and UB has formed a new institute focused on development of shale resources. Ties to the gas industry and to industry-friendly faculty appear to be making shale gas and fracking sensitive topics at the university.

Reports from the university and journalists on the above issues and links to the first study by the new UB Shale Institute appear below in chronological order:

SUNY Inks $22M Deal to Buy Hydrofracked Gas, By Buck Quigley, Artvoice, March 29, 2012 
SUNY Spokesperson Tells Journalist What to Write, By Buck Quigley, Artvoice, March 30, 2012

If Fracking Isn’t Bad, Why Is SUNY Trying to Hide It? By Luke Hammill, The UB Spectrum, April 3, 2012 

Announcing the New Shale Institute at UB, By Buck Quigley, Artvoice, April 5, 2012 

Shale Resources and Society Institute to Analyze Shale's Potential as an Energy Resource, UB News Release, April 5, 2012.  
New institute will provide policymakers and other stakeholders with research-based information on the development of shale. 
Excerpt: The goal of the institute is to provide accurate, research-based information on the development of shale and other unconventional resources, said John P. Martin, the institute's director.

"We're really trying to provide fact-based, objective information," Martin said. "We're guided by science."

UB's Shale Resources and Society Institute Examines Violations in Developing Natural Gas in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale, NEWS RELEASE from the University at Buffalo, May 15, 2012
The report finds that environmental events are declining and suggests that proposed regulations in New York could mitigate future problems  

Excerpt: Announced by UB on April 5, the Shale Resources and Society Institute's goal is to provide accurate, research-based information on the development of shale gas and other unconventional energy sources. The institute conducts and disseminates peer-reviewed research that can help guide policymakers on issues relating to hydraulic fracturing.

This is the first report produced by the institute. 

The entire report is available here
Bios of the report's authors are available here.

UB Shale Institute Taps Industry Shills for First Report, by Buck Quigley, Artvoice, May 15, 2012

'Fracking' risks found to have been diminished, By David Robinson,
The Buffalo News, May 16, 2012
Front-page story on the first report by the UB Shale Institute 
Fracking study has some cracks? The Buffalo News 'Strictly Business' Blog, May 16, 2012
Excerpt: Lead author, Timothy Considine, has come under fire for his ties to the oil and gas industry. He has been called "the energy industry's go-to academic for highlighting the positives, and not the negatives, of fossil fuel development."

Reviewer of UB Frack Study Backs Off, By Buck Quigley, Artvoice, May 17, 2012 
Note: It took just one day for Scott Anderson—senior policy advisor with the Environmental Defense Fund’s Energy Program—one of the report’s “reviewers” to distance himself from the study.

Institute examines fracking violations, By Cory Nealon, UB REPORTER, May 17, 2012
This revised version of the
May, 15, 2012 News Release was published in the UB REPORTER and included the following Editor's note: 
An earlier version of this story described the report as “peer-reviewed.” This description may have given readers an incorrect impression. The story has been edited to more accurately describe the process by which the report’s authors gathered comments before finalizing their report.

UB News Website Retracts Shale Institute’s “Peer Review” Claim, By Buck Quigley, Artvoice, May 21, 2012

UPDATE: May 23, 2012 
Check the math: Study touting ‘safer’ fracking reveals Big Oil’s ties to academia, By Sharon Kelly, Grist
"The problem isn’t just that the study itself is misleading and riddled with errors (which it is). It’s that in their efforts to win public favor, the fracking industry increasingly hides behind academia to circulate  misinformation — and the University of Buffalo is the latest cover."

UPDATE: May 24, 2012
Shale study harms UB’s reputation, By David Kowalski, Letter to The Buffalo News
"But the fact that all three authors have ties to the energy industry raises concern about conflicts of interest. Their report and undisclosed funding sources only reinforce that concern and harm the university."

UPDATE: May 25, 2012
UB report on 'fracking' draws fire of watchdog, By David Robinson, The Buffalo News -- Front page story 
"A Buffalo-based corporate accountability research group Thursday criticized as "seriously flawed and biased" last week's study from the University at Buffalo that said stronger regulation was leading to an improved safety record among drillers in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale."

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