Artvoice: Buffalo's #1 Newsweekly
Home Blogs Web Features Calendar Listings Artvoice TV Real Estate Classifieds Contact

UB Shale Study Debunked

A review issued today by the Public Accountability Initiative (PAI) skewers the “Environmental Impacts During Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling” report released just nine days ago by the fledgling UB Shale Resources and Society Institute (SRSI).

The review shows two of the report’s central claims to be false, and reveals that whole sections were lifted from an earlier pro-fracking report written by the same authors, without attribution. The earlier report was commissioned by the conservative Manhattan Institute—which receives substantial funding from energy companies like Exxon Mobil.

The report employs flawed methodology, biased language, and industry spin. It also relied on an artificial “peer review” process, according to authors Kevin Connor, Robert Galbraith, and Benjamin Nelson.

Using data included in the UB report, they bust the claim that major fracking-related environmental violations declined from 2008-2011. In fact, such violations increased 36% during that time period. The evidence is damning.

Calls and emails to UB spokesperson John Della Contrada, and institute co-director John Martin—seeking comment on the review—were not returned. SIHI co-director Robert Jacobi sent a brief reply: “The comments on the paper I will leave to the authors. A very small point: I am actually a consultant (senior geology advisor) to EQT , not employed in the usual sense with benefits and all that good stuff.” Jacobi, a UB geologist, is listed as being “on long-term, 85% leave” according to the department website.

The review also illustrates how the authors of the UB report are intertwined with the energy industry. Also, Martin is retired from the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA), and collects a state pension from his 17 years there—as he mentioned in a pro-fracking presentation at UB last year.

Click here to read PAI’s “The UB Shale Play: Distorting the Facts about Fracking.” Funding for the report came from the 11th Hour Project of the Schmidt Family Foundation.

Meanwhile, SRSI’s presence has quietly been scaled back at UB Partner’s Day, scheduled for June 13. According to this archived page, Martin and Marcy Werth of Ecology and Environment were scheduled to give a presentation at the event. Not anymore. Given the institute’s train-wreck of a debut this past week, wanting to keep a low-profile is perfectly understandable.

“The errors in this report really undermine its conclusions. The degree of bias and extensive ties to the natural gas industry suggest that UB is being used as an academic front for industry misinformation,” said lead author of the PAI study, Kevin Connor.

The review concludes: “Will the University at Buffalo and its parent system, the State University of New York, continue to participate in this deception?”

That’s a good question.






  • Jim_Holstun

    Ladies and Gentlemen, have a look at
    the UB SRSI initial report, and the PAI response. It’ll make your jaw drop. I
    think the frackmeisters thought something along the lines of,
    “Hey, if they can release ‘Battleship’ in May and score big with an the  rubes, we can do the same thing with a lazy pro-fracking report!”

    But “Battleship” hasn’t done too well. And there are
    quite a few people in WNY who’ve graduated from high school and even from SUNY,
    and know how to think and read,

  •  Here’s hoping that UB will now take a much closer look at what these gas-industry-friendly ‘faculty’ authors are really up to and who is funding their efforts. UB should re-evaluate its sponsorship of the Shale Institute. The sooner the better for UB, the students and the real faculty.

  • Robert Galbraith

    UB has now made the SRSI website password protected. PAI has most of the pages archived and they are available here:

  • Robert Galbraith

    Particularly interesting in light of John DellaContrada’s comments to Gannett reporter Jon Campbell that SRSI receives no external funding is this line from their “Commitment to Integrity”:

    “Since SRSI will receive funding from many private and government sources, the institute is committed to sustaining an environment of scientific integrity, honest investigation, and freedom from interference.”


  • Buck and Artvoice, Robert and PAI- You guys rock! thanks for this important work.
    Jay Burney

  • Eric Ryan

    Wow, shocking stuff. Everywhere I look, I see the information presented in the University of Buffalo report from a while back. I can’t believe all the misinformation surrounding this industry. The controversy makes my head spin. To keep level and get good, non-biased information, i like to visit Check out some of the information on the “controversy” page at:

    • Jim_Holstun

       Wow, Eric, how much do you get for posting things like this for the shale shills?