Institute faces concern of bias over gas drilling report
An new institute at the State University at Buffalo is facing scrutiny after issuing a natural gas drilling report on May 15 after a government watchdog group pointed out concerns of ties to the oil and gas industry.
According to The New York Times, the report, which says that state regulation has been natural gas drilling safer and New York would benefit from such regulations, resulted in an inquiry into the newly formed Shale Resources and Society Institute.
In their report, the shale institute’s researchers said they examined violations by Marcellus Shale drillers in Pennsylvania from January 2008 to August 2011. It said that the incidence of major “polluting environmental events” related to hydrofracking — like contamination of local water supplies and spills — declined by more than half in three years, “a rather notable indicator of improvement by the industry and oversight by the regulators.”
The report added that under New York’s proposed rules, which are more stringent, any problems “could have been either entirely avoided or mitigated.”
But in a searing critique issued nine days later, the Public Accountability Initiative, a local watchdog group, questioned the study’s claims, saying the rate of major violations had actually gone up. The group also took some of the authors to task for copying entire passages from a report they wrote last year for the conservative Manhattan Institute, without proper attribution.
The article explains that the authors’ ties to the oil and gas industry were not disclosed, which includes two authors whom the Marcellus Shale Coalition finances studies about “the economic impacts of natural gas development.”
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