A report that shed favorable light on fracking is at the center of a controversy at the University of Texas. The head of the school's Energy Institute has stepped down and another professor has retired after an investigation found numerous errors and flaws in the report — and undisclosed conflicts of interest.
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A University of Texas study that says hydraulic natural gas fracturing is safe has been withdrawn, and its author has retired and left the university. From Dallas, NPR's Wade Goodwyn has the story.
WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: The fracking study is now a black eye to the University of Texas after an independent review of national experts found it scientifically unsound and tainted by conflicts of interest. The author of the study, Dr. Charles Groat, retired in the wake of the scathing review, and the university announced that Dr. Raymond Orbach, head of the university's Energy Institute that released the study, has resigned his position.
The original fracking study concluded that hydraulic fracturing was safe, the danger of water contamination low and suggestions to the contrary mostly media bias. But then it was reported this summer that Professor Groat sat on the board of a natural gas drilling company and received more than a million and a half dollars in compensation. That information was not disclosed in Groat's report.
In a statement, the University of Texas said it accepted the findings of the independent review. This is the third time in three months that fracking research by energy-friendly university industry consortiums has been discredited. The Shale Resources Institute at the State University of New York at Buffalo was closed after questions were raised about the quality and independence of its work. And an industry canceled their fracking study after professors at Penn State University refused to participate.
Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Dallas.
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