Fake fracking reports: professor and institute head quit, other institute disbanded

From Austin to Buffalo, fake science for fracking is increasingly being exposed, Frack U with academic consequences: lead professor resigns, institute head quits, another institute disbanded. The image on the right (Frack U) is not a reputation any university wants to see. At least academia takes conflicts of interest seriously; now if government and the voters would do the same…. Or energy companies. Remember, shale gas (plus nuclear) is what Georgia Power and Southern Company are shifting to from coal, while shading us from the finances that would enable solar power for jobs and energy independence in south Georgia.

Terrence Henry wrote for NPR 6 December 2012, Review of UT Fracking Study Finds Failure to Disclose Conflict of Interest (Updated)

The original report by UT Austin’s Energy Institute, ‘Fact-Based Regulation for Environmental Protection in the Shale Gas Development,’ was released early this year, and claimed that there was no link between fracking and water contamination. But this summer, the Public Accountability Initiative, a watchdog group, reported that the head of the study, UT professor Chip Groat, had been sitting on the board of a drilling company the entire time. His compensation totaled over $1.5 million over the last five years. That prompted the University to announce an independent review of the study a month later, which was released today.

The review finds many problems with the original study, chief among them that Groat did not disclose what it calls a “clear conflict of interest,” which “severely diminished” the study. The study was originally commissioned as a way to correct what it called “controversies” over fracking because of media reports, but ironically ended up as a lightning rod itself for failing to disclose conflicts of interest and for lacking scientific rigor.

Unrepentant as recently as July, Professor Groat resigned in November. Plus this:

Raymond Orbach of UT’s Energy Institute has resigned after the group became engulfed in controversy over a study of fracking.

And elsewhere even more drastic results have ensued:

After similar issues at the University at Buffalo over a report on fracking that also lacked scientific backing and failed to disclose industry ties, the Univeristy shuttered its Shale Resources and Society Institute, which released the study, last month.

As WGRZ.com put it:

WEB EXTRA: Read the Public Accountability Initiative’s scolding review of the Institute’s findings

That PAI report is:

The UB Shale Play: Distorting the Facts about Fracking: A Review of the University at Buffalo Shale Resources and Society Institute’s Report on “Environmental Impacts During Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling” by public accountability initiative, May 2012.

You probably get the gist from the title, but there’s plenty more inside. Here’s PAI’s summary, including these points:

  • Two of the report’s central claims are false.
  • A copy and paste job?
  • A flawed methodology.
  • Use of biased language and industry spin.
  • Artificial “peer review” process.

Hm, that last, what does it remind us of? Perhaps that nature review of the institute behind one of only two speakers for the new Plant Vogtle nukes at the GA PSC this week:

Despite criticizing climate scientists for being overconfident about their data, models and theories, the Heartland Institute proclaims a conspicuous confidence in single studies and grand interpretations.

Fake science: that’s what Georgia Power and Southern Company are depending on to say fracking for shale oil is safe. And quite likely fake science for Georgia’s Public Service Commission to say Georgia Power and SO’s nuclear boondoggle is safe. Plus we already know it’s not safe for Georgians’ bank accounts.

Yes, Commissioner Doug Everett, it’s time to shut down that boondoggle now, before it sucks up even more water than Savannah. And no, SO CEO Thomas A. Fanning, shifting to fracking that sucks up huge amounts of water is not a solution.

The U.S. military is already implementing what it found by experiments in the deserts of Afghanistan: net zero energy use through energy efficiency, conservation, and solar power is the way to avoid wars through stopping climate change and real energy independence for true national security.

Once Georgia Power and Southern Company stop propping up that 1973 Territorial Electric Service Act, we can get on with true distributed solar power on rooftops. Renewable energy is already winning, but Georgia Power and SO are still dragging Georgia and the whole region behind with their nuclear buggy whips.

Academia gets it; even insurers get it: fracking contaminates water supplies. It’s time to let the sun shine through the power lines on Georgia.