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Academic Frackdom

Our shadowy informants point us toward “Fracking and Academic Freedom,” published in Boulder Weekly today.

In the story, a university researcher explains how the oil and natural gas industry pressured his employers at the Colorado School of Mines and the University of Wyoming—both public schools—in order to discourage research unflattering to the industry.

How heavy-handed. Something like this would never happen at SUNY Buffalo’s Shale Resources and Society Institute (SRSI), because here they produce research that has already been released by the Manhattan Institute and approved by the industry. And they have the sense to only let tried-and-true industry shills do the research. I mean, what’s the point of having an institute devoted to extracting resources unless that institute is busy producing literature that will aid the extraction process?

UB Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences E. Bruce Pitman calls it “academic freedom.”

Speaking of SUNY Buffalo, I filed this FOIL request with records access officer Brian Hines and UB president Satish Tripathi on July 12, seeking information about SRSI.

On July 18 I received this email, acknowledging the receipt of my request:

Sent on behalf of Brian T. Hines
Records Access Officer
 
Mr. Quigley,
 
Please be advised that I am in receipt of your Freedom of Information Law (F.O.I.L.) request dated July 12, 2012.
 
I am currently determining the availability and accessibility of the requested document(s) and I expect to be in further contact with you within twenty business days.  If you wish to make further inquiry regarding this particular FOIL request, please reference File Number 12-035.
 
Brian T. Hines
 
Mary Ann Lawson
Human Resources
University at Buffalo
120 Crofts Hall
Telephone:  (716) 645-4484
Fax:  (716) 645-5904
mlawson@buffalo.edu
Please visit our website at:  www.hr.buffalo.edu
 

That reply was sent at the limit of the five business days the Freedom of Information Law allows for a public entity to respond to a FOIL request.

Then yesterday (8/15), on the last possible day they could have replied without breaking the Freedom of Information Law, I received this email:

Sent on behalf of Brian T. Hines
Records Access Officer
 
Mr. Quigley,
 
We are unable to respond to your Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request within 20 business Days from our last email dated July 18, 2012 because of the complexity and difficulty in retrieving the information requested, and the need to review the documents to determine the extent to which they must be disclosed.
 
We expect documents requisite to your request that are disclosable under FOIL and the Personal Privacy Protection Law will be provided to you on or before September 13, 2012.
 
Thank you for your patience.                 
 
Brian T. Hines
 
Mary Ann Lawson
Human Resources
University at Buffalo
120 Crofts Hall
Telephone:  (716) 645-4484
Fax:  (716) 645-5904
mlawson@buffalo.edu
Please visit our website at:  www.hr.buffalo.edu

The September 13 date is another 20 business days after the August 15 reply—the maximum number of days they can stretch it out under FOIL.

I take this to mean their records are all a mess and they can’t find anything. Or, maybe they can find the records and are busy paying lawyers to look them over to see what they can possibly redact. Or, they are waiting on another shipment of Sharpie pens so they can continue the redaction process.

One thing seems obvious: The State University of New York at Buffalo is using provisions of the FOIL law to postpone the release of public records.

Won’t it be fun to see what other loopholes the legal team comes up with in the next 20 business days to further delay or limit disclosure using FOIL and the Personal Privacy Protection Law?

 

 

 


  • James Northrup

    Frackademics tell critics to shut the frack up –  what the frack do they have to hide ? 

  • http://twitter.com/TXsharon TXsharon

    A case study in how industry influence squelches the science of gas drilling impacts
    http://www.earthworksaction.org/earthblog/detail/how_industry_influence_squelches_the_science_of_gas_drilling_impacts

  • BufChester

    Go Buck.  That’s for fighting the good fight.

  • Jim_Holstun

    Knave, or fool?

    I.e., are you trying to stretch this process out as much as possible, hiding any chicanery as long as possible?

    Or are you so stupid that it really does take take you two months to walk to a file, xerox it, and send an email?

    Knave, or fool–your call.