DeSmog

Union of Concerned Scientists Cites DeSmog's "Frackademia" Work in Major Report

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The Union of Concerned ScientistsCenter for Science and Democracy has released a new report titled “Toward an Evidence-Based Fracking Debate” and DeSmogBlog‘s “frackademia” work takes the center stage in the 53-page heavily cited document.

With chapters on the science of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), fracking’s regulatory landscape (and lack thereof), industry transparency (and again, lack thereof) and many sub-topics in between, DeSmog‘s “frackademia” work is mentioned twice in the “Interference in the Science” subsection. 

“Industry interests have influenced the outcome of academic studies of unconventional oil and gas development,” wrote UCS in citing DeSmogBlog. “Such efforts have produced industry-friendly research results and reports coming from several universities, a circumstance that has been dubbed ‘frackademia.’”

UCS cited our “frackademia” case study of State University of New York at Buffalo and its proposed Shale Resources and Society Institute. The proposal was met with resistance and furor, eventually shuttering operations before it ever officially opened its doors in late-2012. 

Careful to avoid coastal bias, UCS also mentioned our probe of University of Southern California’s “Powering California” report

“A 2013 study published by the University of Southern California discussed the economic benefits that fracking would bring to California,” explained UCS in citing our story. “One of the study’s co-authors failed to disclose that he is the founder and president of an oil and gas industry consulting firm called FACT Inc.”

Other “frackademia” case studies also receive a mention, including at University of Texas-Austin, Penn State University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Obama Administration Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz‘s ascent to power began at MIT‘s Energy Institute, a key industry influence peddling and “frackademia” hub.

Report coauthor Gretchen Goldman, an analyst at UCS‘ Center for Science and Democracy, weighed in on the “frackademia” portion of the study in an interview with DeSmogBlog

“In several cases, we’ve seen commercial interests exploit the clout of academic institutions without disclosing their ties to industry,” said Goldman. “The co-opting of academic studies by corporate forces threatens the scientific process we depend on to get reliable information from our educational institutions.”

Photo Credit: SirMetal | Wikimedia Commons 

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Steve Horn is the owner of the consultancy Horn Communications & Research Services, which provides public relations, content writing, and investigative research work products to a wide range of nonprofit and for-profit clients across the world. He is an investigative reporter on the climate beat for over a decade and former Research Fellow for DeSmog.

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