by Tom Kenworthy
When it comes to academic research on the shale gas boom and the practice of hydraulic fracturing, it’s becoming increasingly important to follow the money.
As Bloomberg noted in a recent article detailing how oil and gas industry money had sponsored academic studies, the sector is using familiar tactics:
As the U.S. enjoys a natural-gas boom from a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, producers are taking a page from the tobacco industry playbook: funding research at established universities that arrives at conclusions that counter concerns raised by critics.
Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors, who made the tobacco analogy, said companies and their trade associations are “buying the prestige” of universities that are sometimes not transparent about funding nor vigilant enough to prevent financial interests from shaping research findings.
A case at the University of Texas seems particularly egregious. The university professor, Charles Groat, who led the study did not disclose that he serves on the board of Plains Exploration and Production, or PXP, and that he received more than $400,000 from the Texas energy company in 2011. Groat receives 10,000 shares of PXP stock each year, and his holdings were ...