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UB Shale Institute Taps Industry Shills for First Report

Click here to read the first report spat out by the recently announced Shale Resources and Society Institute at the State University of New York at Buffalo. The authors of the report include Robert W. Watson, Timothy J. Considine, and Institute co-director John P. Martin.

Martin is being quoted in the press claiming “the study was funded entirely by the University at Buffalo with no industry support.” That would be a reassuring statement if only it was accurate.

UB spokesperson John DellaContrada told us a few weeks back that “philanthropic support [for the institute] is pending from a variety of potential funders.” Today we left a message asking him about the new report. He sent a three-word email reply. “Funded by UB.” We asked for a little more clarity. He then told us that the new report wasn’t funded by UB, but in fact the money came from the University at Buffalo Foundation.

Since the various UB Foundations exist beyond the reach of the Freedom of Information Law, the public can’t know which gas industry companies may or may not have donated to the UB Foundation, or the amount of those donations. All we’re told is the money for the study came from the UB Foundation.

Isn’t that a nice way to launder money, my fellow New Yorkers?

Well, at least the State University of New York at Buffalo is standing by the research coming out of its new institute, right? Check out the following disclaimer found on page 2 of the report released today:

The opinions and conclusions expressed or implied in the report are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the University at Buffalo. University at Buffalo does not make any warranty, expressed or implied, or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe upon privately owned rights. Trademarks and copyrights mentioned with this report are the ownership of their respective companies.

The thing has more disclaimers than a pharmaceutical ad.

At any rate, two of the authors, Watson and Considine, have a proven track record of producing feel-good fracking stories funded by pro-fracking groups—and they put them out on Penn State letterhead.

Click here to read “The Economic Impacts of the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Play: An Update.” That one came out May 24, 2010. Here’s the page 2 disclaimer:

This report was prepared as an account of work sponsored by the Marcellus Shale
Coalition. Neither the Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering at Penn State nor
the Marcellus Shale Coalition, nor any person acting on behalf thereof, makes any
warranty or representation, express or implied, with respect to the accuracy, completeness
or usefulness of the information contained in the report nor that its use may not infringe
privately owned rights, or assumes any liability with respect to the use of, or for damages
resulting from the use of, any information, apparatus, method or process disclosed in this
report. This report was written and produced for the Marcellus Shale Coalition by the
Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering, Penn State University. The opinions,
findings, and conclusions expressed in the report are those of the authors and are not
necessarily those of The Pennsylvania State University or the Marcellus Shale Coalition.
To obtain additional copies of the report or with questions regarding the content, contact
Tim Considine at tconsidi@uwyo.edu or (307) 760-8400, or Robert Watson at
rww1@psu.edu or (814) 865-0531.

I left messages with Watson and Considine regarding the funding of this report, but heard nothing back.

Watson and Considine also collaborated on the follow-up: “The Pennsylvania Marcellus Natural Gas Industry: Status, Economic Impacts and Future Potential.” Click here to read that one. It was also paid for by the Marcellus Shale Coalition and came out last year.

Unfamiliar with the Marcellus Shale Coalition? Click here to see who’s on the board:

Click here to see the list of Associate Members of the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

 Who’s on the Executive Board of the Marcellus Shale Coalition?

Dave Spigelmyer, Chair
Vice President, Government Affairs
Chesapeake Energy Corporation

Rob Broen, Vice-Chair
President
Talisman Energy USA

K. Scott Roy, Treasurer
Vice President
Range Resources Corporation

John Mollenkopf, Secretary
Chief Operating Officer
MarkWest Energy Partners, L.P.

Randy Albert
Chief Operating Officer
CNX Gas Company, LLC

Frank Billings
Vice President, Onshore Gathering & Processing
Williams

Heather Lamparter
Vice President, Legal
EXCO Resources

Craig Mayer
General Counsel
Pennsylvania General Energy

Jack Williams
President
XTO Energy

Terry Bossert
Vice President, Government & Regulatory Affairs
Chief Oil & Gas

Not surprisingly, the authors of the first report produced by the Shale Resources and Society Institute at the State University of New York at Buffalo are swooning over fracking. Here’s the first sentence of the Executive Summary:

The development of shale gas through hydraulic fracturing has awakened what some have described as an American energy renaissance…

Here’s how the Buffalo News reported it today, in the business section.

Meanwhile, folks advocating a fracking ban for New York State are having a concert tonight in Albany. Martin likes to poke fun of celebrities who come out against fracking, as he did in Jakarta, Indonesia this past February—while representing himself as a director of this new institute at UB, months before the institute was awkwardly rolled out to the public under pressure from Artvoice.


  • SUNY Buffalo Fracking Shill Hall of Shame from fracking sure !

  • Jim_Holstun

    I’ve just been looking at the SRSI’s first pamphlet and admiring its logo. This logo suggests to me that the
    fiery orange of clean-burning natural gas is completely compatible with
    the leafy green planet saying, “Thank you, SRSI!” Mr. Quigley, I think you owe somebody an apology. Well?I’m waiting. . . .

  • Jim_Holstun

    I’m a professor of English at UB. At a Faculty Senate meeting on May 1, I asked UB President Satish M. Tripathi about funding for the Shale Resources and Society Institute–whether or not energy industry contributions would be made public, so that the public can judge any conflicts of interest. He said that the university would be doing everything that’s required, including acknowledgment of funding supporting all published research, as that research is published.

    Well, now some “research” has been published. Not only does UB Foundation funding hide likely corporate donors; this report doesn’t even acknowledge UB Foundation support. In other words, President Tripathi misspoke about the procedures that would be followed for research published by the Shale Resources and Society Institute.

    Until we have evidence to the contrary, we should treat this ostensibly scholarly report as a press release from Frack Central.  This is a shameful day for the University at Buffalo. Like natural resources, a university’s credibility can only be looted for so long before it’s completely exhausted.

  • Great Article. My comment to the News:

    The front-page position the selection
    of the Lead Author, Timothy Considine and the precincts of the study along with
    the Buffalo News Shill for the industry prepare one for its irrelevance.

     

    Professor Considine is an
    energy industry representative in every sense. Just using his name predicates
    that the study will rationalize Fracking.

     

    SUNYAB Geology Department has
    become notorious for failing to honestly examine Fracking without the close
    supervision of the Energy Industry.

     

    The study itself did not
    study Fracking. They studied the administrative history of Fracking regulation
    violations in the files maintained by the Pennsylvania Regulators filed by
    entry level and mostly lower-level state inspectors who mostly do visual checks
    of multiple sites daily.

     

    The study did not use baseline
    water or air measures from which Fracking impacts could be measured. The study
    did not use short or long term individual well or cumulative impacts for any
    insight to the possible affect Fracking could have on human health.

     

    It would be interesting to
    learn how the small corner of Marcellus Shale that is under New York’s southern
    tier can generate more jobs than the huge portion of Marcellus that is beneath
    Pennsylvania.

     

    I am old enough to recall
    when the University at Buffalo drew respect for its opinions on nearly any
    Scientific subject.  Now they cash all
    their chips in a frenzy to satisfy superficial recognition and the whimsy of a
    greed driven industry.

     

    The Buffalo News indulges in
    absolute sleaze by its superficial management of this issue with this story.

  • Great article. My comment to the News:

    The front-page position, the selection
    of the Lead Author, Timothy Considine and the precincts of the study along with using the Buffalo News Shill for the industry prepare one for its irrelevance.

     

    Professor Considine is an
    energy industry representative in every sense. Just using his name predicates
    that the study will rationalize Fracking.

     

    SUNYAB Geology Department has
    become notorious for failing to honestly examine Fracking without the close
    supervision of the Energy Industry.

     

    The study itself did not
    study Fracking. They studied the administrative history of Fracking regulation
    violations in the files maintained by the Pennsylvania Regulators filed by
    entry level and mostly lower-level state inspectors who mostly do visual checks
    of multiple sites daily.

     

    The study did not use baseline
    water or air measures from which Fracking impacts could be measured. The study
    did not use short or long term individual well or cumulative impacts for any
    insight to the possible affect Fracking could have on human health.

     

    It would be interesting to
    learn how the small corner of Marcellus Shale that is under New York’s southern
    tier can generate more jobs than the huge portion of Marcellus that is beneath
    Pennsylvania.

     

    I am old enough to recall
    when the University at Buffalo drew respect for its opinions on nearly any
    Scientific subject.  Now they cash all
    their chips in a frenzy to satisfy superficial recognition and the whimsy of a
    greed driven industry.

     

    The Buffalo News indulges in
    absolute sleaze by its superficial management of this issue with this story.

  • Nice work Buck! Fast response!

  • Nice to see The Buffalo News still publishes re-worded press releases as “journalism”.

  •  A University at Buffalo ‘study’ on the environmental risks of fracking whose authors have ties to the gas drilling industry?  The findings of the ‘study’ sound more like a commercial for the gas drilling industry than an objective evaluation of environmental risks of fracking.

    According to the University’s News Release, the report “suggests that proposed regulations in New York could mitigate future problems.” So self serving of these industry affiliates. Don’t believe it!

    The gas drilling industry may have won federal exemption from the Safe Water Drinking Act and the Clean Air Act, but they have not won the public trust. High-volume horizontal drilling has had well-documented negative impacts on water, air, homeowners, farm animals and communities. As a result, more and more New Yorkers and municipalities see that the process can not be done safely and are demanding a ban.

    It is a shame that this so-called study was done under the aegis of the University at Buffalo. The University should re-evaluate their sponsorship of the Shale Resources and Society Institute.

  • DoryHippauf

    You Can’t Tell the Players Without a Scorecard!Connecting the Dots: The Marcellus Natural Gas Play Players – Part 1By Dory Hippaufhttp://commonsense2.com/2011/12/naturalgasdrilling/connecting-the-dots-the-marcellus-natural-gas-play-players-part-1/

    Chesapeake Energy –  Peeking Behind the CurtainConnecting the Dots: The Marcellus Natural Gas Play Players – Part 2By Dory Hippaufhttp://commonsense2.com/2012/01/national-politics/connecting-the-dots-the-marcellus-natural-gas-play-players-part-2/

    Energy-in-Depth (EID):  The “GAS”rootsConnecting the Dots: The Marcellus Natural Gas Play Players – Part 3By Dory Hippaufhttp://commonsense2.com/2012/02/naturalgasdrilling/connecting-the-dots-the-marcellus-natural-gas-play-players-part-3/

    Cabot, PA DEP and DimockConnecting the Dots: The Marcellus Natural Gas Play Players – Part 4By Dory Hippaufhttp://commonsense2.com/2012/03/naturalgasdrilling/connecting-the-dots-part-4/

    Pieces of Silver – Act 13Connecting the Dots: The Marcellus Natural Gas Play Players – Part 5By Dory Hippaufhttp://commonsense2.com/2012/04/naturalgasdrilling/connecting-the-dots-marcellus-shale-play-players-part-5/

    Aubrey McClendon: Chesapeake Energy’s Little ProblemConnecting the Dots: The Marcellus Natural Gas Play Players–Part 6By Dory Hippaufhttp://commonsense2.com/2012/05/naturalgasdrilling/aubrey-mcclendon-chesapeake-energy%E2%80%99s-little-problem/

  • Rte42

     This Shill Report cites 25 MAJOR environmental incidents since 2008.  If the Industry can’t even do a whitewash right, what’s the chance that they’re gonna frack without big-time problems?

  • Here’s my beef with your complaint. If you or other proponents of a fracking ban reject this analysis of trends in violations (here evidently based on the authors’ background, not on the results?), why aren’t you doing your own analysis of trends in violations (number, severity and rate)? 

    Perhaps because it’s correct that the trends are down? One way or the other, take the same data (available) and crunch the numbers. 

    I agree that there’s spin (mainly extraneous background) in the report, but the core findings appear robust (and, as another commenter points out, are not a reason for proclaiming success). 

    But sometimes funding is irrelevant, as was the case with the “BEST” study of global temperature data sets pointing to global warming. That work was funded in part by Koch money, but concurred with established analysis of climate warming. See this post for more:

    Skeptic Talking Point Melts Away as an Inconvenient Physicist Confirms Warming: http://nyti.ms/mXWxKr

  • Shermanater

    No one could base any credible study on the data coming from the pro-fracking politically appointed Michael Krancer (PA DEP) who has been empowered by Tom “gasman” Corbett to promote and get those permits through the process as quickly as possible (30 minutes), at this point.  The data was more credible under John Hanger’s time at the helm.  Since Mr. Krancer has taken on the position of head of the PA DEP, they’ve lost track of 500 gas wells, allowed the discharge of waste water into water treatment plants and streams causing the contamination of the state of Pennsylvania’s drinking water, and (at least at one time) required all violations to be filtered through him before any violations could be written to drillers.  Do you really think that violations went down, or they just stopped writing tickets? Please…….

  • Here’s my beef with your complaint.  You make things out to be sinister that ARE NOT — rather, they are typical of any research at any major research university.    First, the disclaimers that you see above are typical of academic reports — as faculty have the intellectual freedom to research what they want and to publish their own, uncensored, conclusions.   SUNY at an institution does not take a stance on shale gas drilling or any issue — its faculty are free to study/research it from all points of view and come to their own conclusions and publish them.   Second, all sponsored research by any faculty member through the State University of New York System happens through the Research Foundation of SUNY.  Check it out at 
    https://portal.rfsuny.org.   To me, your article seems to misunderstand the process of academic research.

  • 6688

    Tracy,

    That’s wrong. The foundation referred to is not the SUNY Research Foundation. It is the University at Buffalo Foundation.

    You are free to think whatever you want about the funding for the report.

    Are you aware that UB no longer claims it was “peer reviewed,” and one of those “reviewers” has distanced himself from it?

    http://blogs.artvoice.com/avdaily/2012/05/21/ub-newspaper-retracts-shale-institutes-peer-review-claim/