Who's Watching the Watchers in Review of Controversial UT Fracking Report?

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Public Accountability Initiative

University of Texas prof Chip Groat's ties to the natural gas industry raised a few eyebrows last month after a report he served as lead researcher on gave the hydraulic fracturing process a clean bill of health. "New Study Shows No Evidence of Groundwater Contamination from Hydraulic Fracturing," the accompanying press release read.

Read the find print, however, and you find the report's other researchers warn of the danger posed to groundwater by surface spills of fracking chemicals, subsurface well blowouts and state regulation that leaves much to be desired. More troublesome than the UT Energy Institute's spin on the findings was the compensation in stock and cash Groat has received as board member of Plains Exploration, a natural gas company, according to the Public Accountability Initiative.

"To be honest, we had no idea," institute director Raymond Orbach told Bloomberg. "In the future we should have an asterisk or something that would indicate his presence on the board."

The university vowed to convene an expert panel to determine whether the report's conclusions were valid. On Monday, it announced the names of the three examiners who would review the report. One of them, Norman Augustine, the retired chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin, raises the same questions of conflict. Augustine served some 20 years on the board of ConocoPhillips, a major natural gas producer, and continues to receive millions in stock and cash compensation, PAI found. ConocoPhillips also happens to be one of the Energy Institute's biggest named donors. The company donated $1.5 million in 2010 for energy research.

"Unfortunately, the university's choice of Mr. Augustine throws the independence of this review into question before it has even begun," PAI says in a release.


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3 comments
roo_ster
roo_ster like.author.displayName 1 Like

Funny that UT & other universities don't get all wound around the axle when their professorcritters take money from lefty organizations.

MisterMean
MisterMean

For all those who claim that fracking does not contaminate the ground water—how about this idea-a nice tall glass of ground water for them to drink.  Maybe two or three.   After all there is no proof that the ground water is contaminated so a nice cool glass would be just the thing to prove your point.

pak152
pak152

so why not appoint TxSharon to the review. she is certainly unbiased and objective ;-)

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