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

UB Shale Institute Director Supports Fracking Los Angeles

John P. Martin has credentials. On the one hand, he claimed in February, 2012, to be the director of the UB Shale Resources and Society Institute (SRSI) at a US Department of Energy Conference in Jakarta, Indonesia. Problem with that claim was that the SRSI was still a secret at the time. It was only made known when Artvoice spoke to Martin and published this story on April 5. After that post went up, UB hastily put up its own announcement of the institute on the same day. The Department of Energy has not responded to our request for clarification about Martin’s Jakarta trip.

According to Martin, UB was not quite ready to announce the institute publicly. But why take my word for it? Click here Click the icon above to listen to some of my conversation with Martin back on April 5—which I believe is the last time he was quoted in a news article.

Of course, the SRSI has since been at the center of a lot of controversy since May of this year, when the Public Accountability Initiative (PAI) thoroughly debunked claims made in the institute’s first report. Martin was a co-author of the report. The matter gained negative national and international attention in various news media, and SRSI is currently being examined by the SUNY trustees.

Yesterday, environmental consulting firm Cardno ENTRIX released a report commissioned by independent oil and gas outfit Plains Exploration and Production Company (PXP), entitled “Hydraulic Fracturing Study: PXP Inglewood Oil Field.” In short, the report says it’s OK to employ high-volume horizontal fracturing to extract natural gas from the company’s oil field in Los Angeles County. Seismicity…well, that can be mitigated.

PXP and Los Angeles County contracted with Martin’s JPMartin Energy Strategy LLC to be “peer reviewers” of the report. The lack of appropriate peer review was a major blunder of the SRSI report, and SUNY Buffalo had to admit the error. What’s odd about this new report is that Martin does not even mention the fact that he is co-director of the highly scrutinized SRSI—and co-author of the UB institute’s widely panned report.

Here’s his bio, from the PXP/Los Angeles County report:

The Reviewers:
John P. Martin, Ph.D.
John is the founder of JPMartin Energy Strategy LLC which provides strategic planning, resource
evaluation, project management and government/public relations services to the energy
industry, academic institutions and governments. Prior to forming JPMartin Energy Strategy LLC
in 2011, John spent 17 years working on energy research and policy issues at the New York
State Energy Research and Development Authority and developed a series of projects targeting
oil and gas resources, renewable energy development and environmental mitigation. He
currently serves on the USDOE’s Unconventional Resources Technical Advisory Committee.
While at NYSERDA, he co-directed the Governor’s Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS)
Working Group, an interagency committee organized in 2007 to address CCS issues and served
as point person on a series of technical studies looking at all aspects of hydraulic fracturing and
multiwell pad development. John regularly lectures and publishes on such diverse topics as the
shale resources development, carbon capture and sequestration, compressed-air energy
storage, renewable energy resource development, and research policy. Prior to joining
NYSERDA, he worked in academia, consulting and regional planning. He holds a Ph.D. in Urban
and Environmental Studies, an M.S. in Economics and a B.S. in Geology, all from Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute. He also holds an M.B.A. from Miami University and completed graduate
work in mineral economics at West Virginia University.

What gives? Eight months ago, Martin was portraying himself as director of SRSI to audiences in Jakarta, Indonesia, before anyone here even knew such an institute existed. Now, after only six months have passed since SRSI became awkwardly public, he doesn’t even want to admit he’s involved with it to the people contracting his services.

And even though he doesn’t acknowledge his position at SRSI, he’s still being paid $60,000 per year (25% effort), plus a $1,000 per month travel allowance for performing—at least nominally—that role here for the next three years. 

I am waiting on a reply from PXP to find out if they were aware of Martin’s exploits at UB. Perhaps subsequent versions of their report will be updated to note his current work here.

In the meantime, below is the statement provided by Steve Rusch, PXP Vice President of Environmental, Health & Safety (EH&S) and Government Affairs, regarding yesterday’s report:

•               The debate about hydraulic fracturing both locally and nationally has been predominantly driven by hypothetical fears.  This study will provide empirical data from two separate high volume hydraulic fracturing completions operations that were conducted at the Inglewood Oil Field.  The local community and policy leaders will have tangible monitoring results they can use in responding to policy questions about domestic oil and gas production.
•               Air emissions, ground water quality, and induced seismicity were just some of the areas studied in detail to respond to questions raised by the community.  In each and every category, the study did not detect significant impacts once the hydraulic fracturing had been completed.  These facts are important for the community to know.
•               This is the first site specific study of its type in California.  In combination, between this detailed study, and the comprehensive EIR that was developed several years ago the Inglewood Oil Field is one the most analyzed and monitored oil field in California. It is simply not credible to suggest otherwise.
•               The community deserves answers to their questions based on facts, not fear.  The study was sought by certain community groups to answer their concerns about whether hydraulic fracturing in the Inglewood Oil Field would be safe.  From the outset we knew there were would be a lot of scrutiny placed on the study’s findings which is why an independent consultant familiar with hydraulic fracturing was selected to conduct the study and a peer reviewer was chosen and employed by L.A. County.  This study provides factual answers derived from actual monitoring and testing results in accordance with the process required by the settlement agreement.

Artvoice could not reach anyone at the L.A. County Department of Regional Planning for comment. We are still awaiting a call back from Cardno ENTRIX to discuss the “peer review” process for this new, pro-fracking report.


  • The Inglewood study doesn’t exactly say “it’s OK to employ high-volume horizontal fracturing to extract natural gas from the company’s oil field.”

    The Inglewood field only has vertical wells, the majority of which are conventionally fractured. Also, only two of the wells studied were fracked at high volume.

    Both of these things should be kept in mind when considering generalizing from the conclusions reached by Entrix.

  • PXP was involved in a civil suit involving the Inglewood oil field.  This case is cited in the Handbook of Pollution Prevention and Cleaner Production Vol. 1, Best Practices in the Petroleum Industry 1st Edition.

    In a nutshell, PXP hired an auditing service to monitor air emissions, make necessary repairs, and keep accurate records for quarterly reports.  PXP also hired a consultant to use the data gathered by the auditing service to prepare these reports.  Unbeknownst to either the consultant or the auditing service, PXP instructed it’s own personnel to repair leaks and spills.  According to the authors of this handbook:

    “. . . PXP did not provide its maintenance personnel with monitoring instruments and
    hence never had an accurate accounting of its emissions.  But its failure to even share the information
    on the numbers of emission incidents from its maintenance records with the
    consultant responsible for filing quarterly emissions reports means that both
    the public and regulators were denied access to critical information that could
    have been applied towards making knowledgeable decisions with regard to public
    health risks.”

  • Shermanater

    Don’t you just love the VP debate where Paul Ryan toted ‘energy independence’ (same as Chris Collins) and mentioned PA’s unemployment rate at 10%.  Wow, what happened to all those fracking jobs they promised while they’ve ruined the entire states drinking water with trihalomethanes.  No jobs and no money.  Also, Chris Collins claims he has the facts but said on tonights debate w/Kathy Hochul that they frack a ‘mile down’.  Gee Chris, did you take the little bus to school.  SGEIS says they can frack at 2000 ft because the Marcellus shale isn’t even a mile deep in NY State.  Same as Pavillion, Wyoming.  Maybe you don’t know how deep a mile is with all your ‘facts’ and ‘science.’  Egad, these are the type of people who want to make decisions for us……………via the Koch brothers.  Welcome to a dictatorship run by 2 angry white men.