Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Coalition Urges SUNY Trustees to Close UB Shale Institute

After reviewing the University at Buffalo’s report to the SUNY Board of Trustees on its recently-created Shale Institute (a.k.a. the Shale Resources and Society Institute), UB CLEAR, an organization of University at Buffalo (UB) faculty, staff, students, and supporters called on the Board to:
  • Make public all documents related to founding, funding, and governance of the Shale Institute
  • Formally recall the Institute’s first publication
  • Close the Shale Institute
In a comprehensive 14-page response to the University at Buffalo report, UB CLEAR detailed the many missteps the Shale Institute made – and the refusal of the UB Administration to recognize these missteps in the report to the SUNY Board of Trustees.

Among their criticisms of the Shale Institute:

  • The Institute’s founding lecture series was underwritten and tainted by secret oil and gas company money, and it’s present and future funding remains mysterious.
  • The Shale Institute’s directors have conflicts of interest between their academic work and their extensive consulting work with oil and gas companies.
  • The Institute offers corporate donors an improper governance role and privileged access.
  • The Institute’s initial publication was and continues to be marred by false claims of peer review, undisclosed corporate ties of the authors, an unscholarly pro-fracking agenda, and major factual errors, never acknowledged or corrected.
“Making mistakes isn’t the issue—mistakes are a given for scholars,” said Jim Holstun, Professor of English at University at Buffalo and Chair of UB CLEAR. “But doggedly standing by mistakes, as have the authors and UB administrators, carries us from the realm of rigorous and legitimate scholarship to the realm of public relations and policy advocacy.” 

“It is time for UB administrators remember that they are employees of the citizens of New York, not PR flacks for potential corporate donors with no genuine interest in education and scholarship,” added Holstun.  

In April 2012, the University at Buffalo formed the Shale Resources and Society Institute. The Shale Institute came under fire in May, when it rushed out a pro-hydrofracking report without benefit of peer review.  University of Buffalo professors have questioned the independence of the Institute, a review by the Public Accountability Initiative revealed fundamental errors in the report, and news accounts detailed undisclosed ties of its authors to the oil and gas industry. On 12 September, the SUNY Board of Trustees directed the University at Buffalo Administration to report on the Shale Institute. On 27 September, UB President Satish K. Tripathi delivered his report to the Trustees.

UB Administration's claims that no concerns were raised by "the relevant scientific community" about the report or the data used in developing the report’s conclusion were addressed in a letter to the editor of the university's newspaper by David Kowalski, Professor Emeritus in the Cellular & Molecular Biology Program, Roswell Park Graduate Division of UB, and member of UB CLEAR.

In the letter, Kowalski indicated that objectivity of UB Shale Institute report was compromised in favor of the gas industry and existing state regulations. He stated that the report should have been peer reviewed through an academic journal. "Scientists rely on the rigorous and critical peer-review process to ensure research integrity," he said. "The authors should have been held to the same high standards of peer review as the UB faculty."

About UB CLEAR - Coalition for Leading Ethically in Academic Research:
UB CLEAR is a coalition of University at Buffalo faculty, students, alums, and other community members who have been working together since May to bring transparency to the Shale Institute. Today, 29 October, they formally responded to the UB administration in a comprehensive and thoroughly-documented report sent to the SUNY Trustees: “UB CLEAR Response to the 27 September Report by UB President Satish K. Tripathi regarding UB’s Shale Resources and Society Institute.” They charge that the UB administration report is evasive and non-responsive to the Trustees’ request, providing yet another example of pro-fracking propaganda in academic guise.

Illinois Professor & Author to Speak on Academic-Industry Relationships at UB

"What to DO When 
the Devil Offers You a Deal"
A Lecture By
Professor Cary Nelson
Monday, November 5, at 3:00PM
UB Law School 
Room 108, O'Brian Hall [Map]

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Cary Nelson is a former President of the National Association of University Professors (AAUP - 2006-2012), and is a Professor in the Department of English at the University of Illinois, Urbana. 

Professor Nelson writes: 
"For more than fifty years public understanding of the relationship between doubt and certainty in science has been shaped by fraudulent collaborations between industry and their university partners. Good university research has often been misrepresented and had its impact reduced as a result. It is time to set the record straight and honor principles that promote good practices."

Professor Nelson is author of the book No University Is an Island: Saving Academic Freedom, and a co-author of the AAUP’s important recent study, Recommended Principles & Practices to Guide Academic-Industry Relationships (13 June 2012; 268 pp.) The report begins with a sixteen-page “Summary of Recommendations.”

Lecture Sponsors: UB Coalition for Leading Ethically in Academic Research (UB CLEAR), UB Joint Committee on Research and Scholarship, Baldy Center for Law and Social Justice, UB UUP.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Shale Institute Study Compromised Research Integrity

Letter to the Editor of the UB Reporter
By David Kowalski ~

In addressing the controversial UB shale institute study, Provost Zukoski stated, “It’s important to note that no concerns regarding the report have been raised by the relevant scientific community.” President Tripathi stated in a report to SUNY Chancellor Zimpher and the SUNY Trustees that “No concerns were raised by the relevant scientific community about the data used in developing the report’s conclusion.”

I am a scientist (professor emeritus, Roswell Park Cancer Institute), a UB research professor and an experienced peer reviewer. I have reviewed the study by the UB shale institute (Shale Resources and Society Institute) entitled “Environmental Impacts during Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling: Causes, Impacts, and Remedies.” My comments are below.

The authors listed academic affiliations in the study, but no industry ties. John P. Martin, institute director, owns a consulting company that produces public relations reports for oil and gas interests, and two co-authors have received past support from gas-industry groups. The authors’ gas-industry ties raise concern about conflicts of interest.

The objectivity of the study was compromised in favor of the gas industry and existing state regulations. The authors’ conclusion that major environmental events per gas well were declining in Pennsylvania was not drawn from their data. Based on the data, the rate of major environmental events actually increased by 36 percent in the period studied. This information was not displayed in the graphs shown. The increased rate of major environmental events and the fact that the study made no attempt to demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship between state regulations and environmental events invalidates the study’s conclusions that the “odds of major environmental events are being reduced even further by enhanced regulation” (p.iii), and that “the percentage of wells resulting in a major environmental event declined significantly, an indicator that the attention of regulators was focused on the areas of greatest concern (p.30).

The authors’ conclusions on cause and effect directly contradict a statement in the results section of the study: “While difficult to conclusively illustrate causation between regulatory actions and decreases in environmental violations, the history of regulations in Pennsylvania suggests such a relationship may exist.” (p.15)

The following statement is pure speculation and not a valid conclusion: “Findings indicate that each of the underlying causes associated with these specific events could have been either entirely avoided or mitigated under New York State’s proposed regulatory framework” (p.iii and a related statement on p.30).

Scott Anderson, senior policy advisor for the Environmental Defense Fund’s Energy Program, was one of the reviewers selected by the authors. After the study’s release, he wrote: “While I was a reviewer, this does not mean that all of my suggestions were taken or that I agree with all of the report’s opinions and conclusions.” He added: “Caution should be exercised with regards to some of the conclusions.”

Later, the shale institute authors released a revised version of the study with minor changes. However, they did not correct the invalid conclusions described above. 

Originally, the authors claimed incorrectly that the study was “peer-reviewed,” giving it an aura of scientific authenticity that it did not deserve. That claim helped attract media attention to the study’s invalid conclusions, resulting in misleading newspaper headlines and reports. The “peer-reviewed” claim was retracted by UB after the press release, but the damage in the newspapers had already been done. 

At this critical time in determining policies on fracking in New York State and the nation, it is outrageous that invalid conclusions in the study were made public and promptly cited as an authoritative source in Congress to influence policymakers. 

The shale institute aims to attract funding from various sources, including the oil-and-gas industry. Would the industry fund studies that did not prove its case? Will UB be vigilant enough to prevent promises of industry funding from dictating the institute’s conclusions?

Reports from the provost and the president cited above upheld the shale institute’s use of an “open peer-review method” for the “self-published” study.

However, open review of the institute study was ineffective. Reviewers who identified invalid conclusions have no power to enforce revision or rejection of the self-published study.

The shale institute study should have been peer-reviewed through an academic journal. In this case, if reviewers identify invalid conclusions, the journal editor has the power to enforce revision or rejection of the study for publication.

Scientists rely on the rigorous and critical peer-review process to ensure research integrity. The objectivity of the UB shale institute study was compromised. The authors should have been held to the same high standards of peer review as the UB faculty.

Published in the UB Reporter: Oct. 25, 2012

Post Comments to the letter at the UB Reporter website. The link is here.

Public Forum on Promoting Clean, Renewable Energy

Good Jobs, Good Business & Clean, Renewable Energy:

A Perfect Fit* for Western New York!

The League of Women Voters of Buffalo/Niagara and the Sierra Club-Niagara Group are presenting a forum to discuss FITs* (Feed-in-Tariffs). The forum will explain how FITs work, and why they are the best method for rapidly bringing new business and new jobs to a region along with promoting renewable energy. The forum will also include a panel with representatives from labor, business and environmental groups. A demonstration project for a FIT in WNY as proposed by the Sierra Club Niagara Group and the United Steel Workers will be discussed as well.

Come find out why a growing coalition of labor, business, environmental and community organizations are joining forces to bring a FIT (or Feed-in-Tariff) to WNY and how a FIT would work.

The forum will be held:
Wednesday, November 14  from 4:30 pm - 6:15 pm at the
Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo State College Campus
1300 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo

This event is free and open to the public.

Parking is free in the adjacent Burchfield Penney lot, and in the Psych Center lot next door, which is accessible from Elmwood Ave.

A printable flyer is here.

*A FIT, or Feed-in-Tariff, provides a fair and long-term price for renewable energy production, providing a stable market for investment in the renewable energy business and industrial supply chain. The Fixed price reflects the cost of producing the energy plus a reasonabile rate of return and the long term market stability has proven to generate good jobs in over 80 jurisdictions worldwide. A FIT was successfully implemented in Ontario and to date has created more than 22,000 jobs and attracted more than $20 billion in investment. A FIT provides an incentive for anyone - from homeowners to farmers to schools to large energy producers - to invest in wind, solar, biomass and/or geothermal.

Naomi Davis, Celebrated Chicago Environmentalist, to Speak


SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2012 (1:00PM - 2:00PM)

The University at Buffalo Clinical and Translational Research Center

875 Ellicott St.
Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Fifth Floor Atrium
Buffalo, NY
Celebrated Chicago Environmentalist, Naomi Davis serves as a bridge and catalyst among communities and their stakeholders in the design and development of green, self-sustaining, mixed- income, walkable-villages within black neighborhoods. She is author of The 8 Principles of Green-Village-Building™ -- a whole-system solution for the whole-system problems common to black communities everywhere – which she presents in lectures, workshops around the country, and teaches at the University of Chicago Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture. Together with its precursor Grannynomics,™ green-village-building addresses the terrible triplets of pollution, poverty, and plutocracy.
For more information, please contact .

EVENT: Voters In, Money Out - Reclaiming our Democracy

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Public Forum: Leasing Land for Shale Gas Hydrofracking

SPEAKERS:  Joseph Heath, Esq. and Michael Bosetti

WHEN:   Monday, November 26, 6:00 PM
WHERE: Little Valley Memorial Library, 110 Rock City St., Little Valley, NY

Considering signing a gas lease?
Concerned about hydrofracking?
Want to learn more about your current gas lease?
Interested in terminating your gas lease?

Sometimes gas companies make drilling in a community sound benign and risk-free, but unfortunately, that is not always the case. New gas leases can be vastly different from our grandpa’s gas lease, and even old leases signed years ago could permit dangerous shale drilling techniques. New drilling techniques in to deep Marcellus and Utica shale layers involve toxic chemical injection into the land under homes, woods, farms, and water wells. As can be seen in Pennsylvania, this has made gas leasing very risky, creating the potential for air, water, and land pollution, and transformation of peaceful residential and agricultural areas in to industrial zones.

This Gas Lease Public Forum is free and opened to all, and will feature presentations from Joseph Heath, Esq. and Michael Bosetti. Joseph Heath is a long-time environmental attorney and general counsel for the Onondaga Nation who has taught communities all over New York about terminating gas leases and managing the questionable ways gas companies seek to extend old leases. Michael Bosetti will share his account of going against the gas company and successfully fighting a pre-existing lease on his property. Join us for this educational program on the pitfalls of gas leases and the process of lease termination!

Sponsored by: Concerned Citizens of Cattaraugus County, WNY Drilling Defense, and Food & Water Watch.

For more information, contact Rita at 716-507-2077 or

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Clean Natural Gas? Exploring the Challenge of Hydrofracking

7:30 p.m., Monday, October 29
Daemen College
4380 Main Street, Amherst
Room 336, Duns Scotus Hall

Free and Open to the Public


  • The Sky is Pink by Josh Fox and the Gasland Team
  • Scott Sackett, President, Skipping Stone Pictures
  • Joseph Currier, Mathematics Major, Daemen College
Pintable Flyer & Map: Click Here 

For years natural gas has been regarded as a clean fuel but no longer.  Drilling for gas in deep shale formations using hydraulic fracturing technology has changed everything. Can fracking be done in an environmentally responsible way, as suggested by an abundance of TV ads?  Or is it too risky?  And do cleaner alternatives exist?  This panel discussion will address these questions and explain the role of citizen action and media in shaping natural gas public policy.

This panel discussion is presented as part of the Alternative & Renewable Energy Issues course in Daemen's Global & Sustainability program.  For information on this exciting new major and minor, visit  For more information about the panel discussion, or 839-0062.

Vigil: Spiritual Call to Ban Hydrofracking

Some of the most powerful social change movements have been fueled by faith. The movement to ban hydrofracking in New York is no exception.  

Please join us for

"A Spiritual Call to Ban Fracking
Vigils to Protect Our Sacred Land & Water

Monday, October, 29 at 6:30 PM

Delaware Park at Hoyt Lake, Buffalo, NY
New Location due to Rain:
Church of the Assumption, 435 Amherst St., Buffalo

Faith is a strong, deeply held force that can inspire people to action, articulating messages, rich with shared values and common virtues, that strike a chord with all of us. Over 300 interfaith leaders from across New York have joined us in declaring that fracking is a moral issue.  Will you join their call on October 29th at a vigil near you? 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Green Drinks -- Sustainable Business Solutions

Green Drinks taking place Thursday October 25, 2012 from 5:30-7:00 PM at Coco, 888 Main St., Buffalo 
Green Drinks is a free and informal professional networking event for people interested in supporting and cultivating Buffalo Niagara's regional green/sustainable business community. People who come to these events range from business owners, employees in a green related fields, entrepreneurs starting a business as well as individuals interested in what businesses can do to operate more efficiently while lessening their impacts on our environmental systems. With a lively mix of people from the various industries, non-profit, government and education sectors, conversations range from economics, conservation, policy and other green and sustainable business related topics. These events allow like minded individuals to get to know each other to share ideas and develop synergies which spur innovation and growth in our region.
This is a public event, all who are interested are welcome. Please come be part of the conversation and be a representative of Buffalo Niagara's regional sustainable business network.

IMPORTANT Information Regarding Green Drinks: The management of Green Drinks has traded hands, and it will now be presented by the same group of people who brought to you the Buffalo Niagara Green Expo, under the auspices of their new inception, GREENWORKS || BUFFALO NIAGARA, “a regional network for sustainable business.” Keep an eye out for future events including the popular Business Gets Green lecture series. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

UB Shale Institute Controversy: Review and Updates

By Steve Horn

Frackademia: Controversial SUNY Buffalo Shale Institute's Reputation Unraveling (via Desmogblog)
A storm is brewing in Buffalo and it's not the record snow storm typically associated with upstate New York. Rather, it's taking place in the ivory tower of academia and revolves around hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," for unconventional gas in the Marcellus Shale basin.  Public funding has…

Thursday, October 11, 2012

CLIMATE CHANGE: What Can and Should We Do Now?

7:30 p.m., Monday, October 15
Daemen College
4380 Main Street, Amherst
Room 336, Duns Scotus Hall

Free and Open to the Public

Keynote speaker
Ross Gould, Energy & Air Program Director, Environmental Advocates of New York (
  • Bob Berger, UB Law Professor (retired)
  • Samantha Legros, Business  Major/Sustainability Minor, Daemen  College
  • Terry Yonker, Chair, Energy & Climate Task Force, WNY Environmental Alliance
Printable Flyer & Map: click here.

Scientists have known for decades that climate change is real and potentially catastrophic yet to a large extent we – as a society - have ignored and denied the problem and done little about it.  This panel discussion will present a positive statewide and national climate protection policy and activist agenda.  It will also address these questions:  Have we waited too long to protect the future for our children and avoid the worst consequences of climate change?  Is effective action -- proportionate to the threat we face -- possible given ongoing political conflict in our country and the power for fossil fuel interests?  What should those who understand the danger and care about the future be doing now?

This panel discussion is presented as part of the Alternative & Renewable Energy Issues course in Daemen's Global & Sustainability program.  For information on this exciting new major and minor, visit  For more information, or 839-0062.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

PUBLIC MEETINGS: WNY Regional Sustainability Plan

The Conversation Continues: The Western New York Regional Sustainability Planning Team is seeking your input on projects that will make our region more sustainable.

Five Western New York counties are working together to create a plan to build a more sustainable region.

Over the last several months, we’ve used your input to create integrated solutions for land use, energy, transportation, infrastructure and environmental practices to improve our quality of life now, and for generations to come. The draft Western New York Regional Sustainability Plan will soon be available at

Ultimately, the Plan will:
    - Plan for energy production and conservation, transportation, waste and water management, land use and livable communities, agriculture and forestry, economic development and open space;
    - Build upon Regional Economic Development planning efforts to integrate plans for economic prosperity with efforts to promote long-term sustainability;
    - Identify indicators to measure our progress, including GHG emissions and energy use, available natural resources and economic assets, liabilities and opportunities; and
    - Describe projects that may apply for implementation funding from various funding sources including the NYSERDA Cleaner Greener Communities program.

The planning team invites your ideas and feedback on implementation projects that can help meet the region’s goals for sustainability.

You may submit project ideas via: or by attending the public meeting most convenient for you:

Monday, October 15, 2012, 6:00 - 8:00 pm
Millennium Hotel, Cleveland Room
2040 Walden Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14225

Thursday, October 18, 2012, 6:00 - 8:00 pm
Jamestown Community College, Weeks Reception Hall
525 Falconer Street, Jamestown, NY 14702

Tuesday, October 23, 2012, 6:00 - 8:00 pm
Niagara County Community College, Humanities and Social Sciences Building, Room E142
3111 Saunders Settlement Road, Sanborn, NY 14132

Thursday, October 25, 2012, 6:00 - 8:00 pm
Moonwinks Restaurant
9302 Jackson Hill Road, Cuba, NY 14727

The project is funded by a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority as a part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Cleaner, Greener Communities Program. The participating counties are Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara. The planning team is led by Allegany County, with support from Southern Tier West Regional Planning and Development Board, Ecology and Environment, Inc., and the University at Buffalo Regional Institute.
To learn more about the project or to submit feedback via email, please visit
To view a copy of the Newspaper Ad please go here: Sustainable Fall Public Meeting Ad
For questions about the project or the upcoming public meetings, please contact Elizabeth Santacrose (Ecology and Environment) at (716) 684-8060.

CONFERENCE: World On Your Plate - Friday & Saturday

Click Image to Enlarge 
World on Your Plate Conference on Food and Sustainable Living is this Friday, October 12th 7pm-9:30pm and Saturday, October 13th, 9:00am-5:00pm.
  • Bring your children!  There is a FREE Youth Conference for ages 8-15. 
  • Wonderful vegetarian lunch from produce donated by area farmers.
  • Speakers:  Brendan Brazier, triathlete and expert on plant based diet, and Mark Kastel, farm policy and organics
  • over 17 workshops on  yoga, GMOs, herbs, gluten-free diet, bees, hops, farm workers, & many more!
  • Networking and light snacks 5:00-6:00, Alex Worthling Quartet
  • Over 20 information tables
  • For more information, or call 716-839-8524

Monday, October 1, 2012

Professors, Students To Confront University Administration Over UB Shale Institute

Over 600 UB Professors, Students, Staff and Community Members Have Signed a Petition Calling on UB to Increase Transparency

WHO: UB CLEAR (Coalition for Leading Ethically in Academic Research)

WHAT: Question and answer session with UB Administration where UB CLEAR members will confront UB Administration over the UB Shale Institute (Shale Resources and Society Institute)

WHERE: UB North Campus - Center For Tomorrow Building - Near Flint Rd. Entrance off Maple Rd - Directions

WHEN: Tuesday October 2nd at 3:00 pm

WHY:  Since the UB Shale Institute issued its first report in May, significant questions have been raised about its funding, founding and potential conflicts-of-interest. On September 12, the SUNY Board of Trustees passed a resolution requiring the UB Administration to provide information about the Shale Institute. Despite a September 27 deadline, no information has been made public.

Contact: Prof. Jim Holstun, 884-0895

Solar & Green Building Tour of WNY

On Saturday, October 13, 2012, over 1500 people from across WNY will experience the Solar & Green Building Tour, an annual event held by the Western New York Sustainable Energy Association (WNYSEA). With over 25 sites open across the region, for one day only, attendees will have an opportunity to learn about solar, geothermal, energy efficiency, net zero houses, green roofs, bale on bale construction, LEED buildings and adaptive reuse of historic buildings and more.
This event is an open house, not a guided tour. All sites are open on October 13 from 10am – 4pm unless noted otherwise. The event is free, open to the public and no registration is required.  A full list of sites in the Buffalo area is Here.

Awards Ceremony: WNYSEA will be kicking off the annual event with an awards ceremony at 9:30am, on Saturday, October 13 at Hispanics United of Buffalo – 254 Virginia Street on Buffalo’s West Side. WNYSEA will give its annual leadership award to both the University at Buffalo and Hispanics United for their efforts in promoting renewable technologies in our region. The public is welcome to attend. Rita Yelda, Director of WNY Drilling Defense, and Erin Heaney, Executive Director of the Clean Air Coalition of WNY will both receive WNYSEA Individual Leadership awards for their great work in Environmental Stewardship.