Author of US fracking study had gas industry ties: watchdog

Jul 27, 2012 by Kerry Sheridan
Men work on a natural gas valve at a hydraulic fracturing site, also known as fracking, in Pennsylvania in June 2012. A university study that claimed fracking for gas deep beneath the Earth's surface did not cause water contamination was led by a US professor with financial ties to the gas industry, a watchdog group said Friday.

A university study that claimed fracking for gas deep beneath the Earth's surface did not cause water contamination was led by a US professor with financial ties to the gas industry, a watchdog group said Friday.

Lead author Charles "Chip" Groat, of the University of Texas, told reporters when the research on was presented at a major science conference in Canada in February that the university had turned down all industry funds for the study.

However, an investigation by the Public Accountability Initiative (PAI) found that Groat himself has been on the board of the Houston-based Plains Exploration and Production Company for several years.

Groat was paid more than $400,000 in cash and stock by the company in 2011, and holds a near $1.6 million stake in the company's stock, it said.

Kevin Connor, the director of the nonprofit PAI, told AFP the report was presented as if it were an independent study on fracking, when it actually represented a "" that should have been disclosed.

A University of Texas spokeswoman told AFP that an investigation has been launched and an independent panel was being convened to review the study, with its findings expected in a few weeks.

She also sent AFP a statement by Steven Leslie, provost and executive vice president of the University of Texas at Austin, which said:

"The most important asset we have as an institution is the public's trust. If that is in question, then that is something we need to address.

"We believe that the research meets our standards, but it is important to let an outside group of experts take an independent look," it added.

Protestors hold signs against fracking during a demonstration outside of the California Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters on July 25. A university study that claimed fracking for gas deep beneath the Earth's surface did not cause water contamination was led by a US professor with financial ties to the gas industry, a watchdog group said Friday.

"Dr. Groat has been reminded of his obligations to report all outside employment per university policy. If the university had known about Dr. Groat's board involvement, the Energy Institute would have included that information in the report."

AFP was among numerous media outlets which covered the 400-page review of fracking operations in Texas, Louisiana, and Marcellus Shale area throughout the northeastern United States -- and Groat's assertion that the university had turned down all industry funds.

Nor did Groat disclose his ties to the peer-reviewers, the university, or the organizers of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which hosted the conference in Vancouver where it was released.

Groat did not respond to an AFP request for comment on the watchdog's report.

In February, Groat said the report, called "Fact-based Regulation for Environmental Protection in Shale Gas Development," aimed to "separate fact from fiction" and give policy makers a tool going forward as the US experiences a major natural gas boom.

Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," is a process by which high-pressure injections of water, sand and chemicals are used to blast through rock to release oil and gas trapped inside.

The US Energy Information Administration has said natural gas reserves could supply US needs for 110 years.

Groat said the report's central finding was that there was no evidence that fracking caused groundwater contamination, but admitted that any such events that have occurred were linked to problems with gas operations at or near the surface, not deep in the Earth.

Spills at the drill site or problems with cement casing around upper well bores were examples of incidents that have led to shallow groundwater contamination in the United States, said the study.

"Most of what we have seen happening related to shale that impacts the environment was at or near the surface," said Groat when presenting the findings at the AAAS conference in Vancouver.

"We found no direct evidence that hydraulic fracturing itself -- the practice of fracturing the rocks -- had contaminated shallow groundwater," he added at the time.

"However that doesn't mean that there aren't other parts of the process of development that could get things you don't want in shallow groundwater."

Asked by reporters in Vancouver about the integrity of the study and whether there was any industry involvement, Groat said the review was funded by the university and that the team had turned down industry funds.

Connor commended the university for undertaking a review but added: "I find it quite troubling that it is not taking any steps to enforce its conflict of interest policy. A reminder call is not a sufficient enforcement mechanism."

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User comments : 29

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jsdarkdestruction
3.9 / 5 (11) Jul 27, 2012
does this really surprise anyone?
jamesrm
1.4 / 5 (13) Jul 27, 2012
You know who I blame...

Obama, because he is a socialist

julianpenrod
1.6 / 5 (19) Jul 27, 2012
And yet, point out that there is no real proof in public hands of "science" claims, from "relativity" to "evolution" to "dark matter" to the "Higgs boson" or any of the collected claims of at least the past century, and you'll find no small number of devotees who tout the line that "scientists", people with a lot of letters after their names, cannot lie or twist facts or do anything craven. They accept automatically what's said. They insist that everyone else do the same. And, if you do bring up valid, legitimate points where there are flaws, they mock you and attack you and condemn you and provide the "defense", "They said it's true, and that makes it true!"
Vendicar_Decarian
3.2 / 5 (16) Jul 27, 2012
Julian (above) is right. All of modern science is a fraud.

The computer you are sitting in front of right now is an illusion, and the GPS system you use to navigate is really made from magic pixie dust.

Your Microwave oven? It runs on faith alone.

julianpenrod
1.7 / 5 (17) Jul 27, 2012
Vendicar Decarian uses a common New World Order nbon argument technique, mockery. That and the technique of aiming solely at the dull witted who think mockery automatically makes you right.
As far as it goes, what is Vendicar Decarian's proof that it isn't something other than what is claimed tyhat makes computers, lights, television, phones work? Really, what is Vendicar Decarian's proof? Where is the proof that electricity isn't really tiny aliens carrying energy along a wire? What is the proof that relativity is real and not just a bunch of phenomena that craven "scientists" claim to have seen occur? ANd just pointing to a lot of links "lecturing" on the subject doesn't make the subject true!
Vendicar_Decarian
3.1 / 5 (11) Jul 28, 2012
Julian is right. Mockery didn't exist before the NewWorldOrder movement was founded by Jesuit Priests in Sept of 1980.

"Vendicar Decarian uses a common New World Order nbon argument technique, mockery." - Julian
Vendicar_Decarian
3.6 / 5 (14) Jul 28, 2012
I offer no proof that toasters and light bulbs don't really run on magic pixie dust, or that white is really just black in disguise.

It may very well be that bananas are the source of all yellow and that love alone will cure the stars of their chronic gas problem.

I have been envited to visit the entry points to the tunnels that UFO's take to get to their base at the core of the earth, and I wonder why Julian isn't already there toasting marshmellows and sniffing glue.

"As far as it goes, what is Vendicar Decarian's proof that it isn't something other than what is claimed tyhat makes computers, lights, television, phones work?" - Julian
ryggesogn2
1.7 / 5 (12) Jul 28, 2012
Thank the AGWites and eugenicists for bolstering the reputation of scientists.
Vendicar_Decarian
3.4 / 5 (10) Jul 28, 2012
"Facts are silly things" - Ronald Reagan

"What is the proof that relativity is real and not just a bunch of phenomena that craven "scientists" claim to have seen occur?: - Julian

There are no known observations that contradict relativity.

Maybe Julian will find one in his breakfast cereal.

Until that time. I rest contented.

Vendicar_Decarian
3.3 / 5 (12) Jul 28, 2012
RyggTard has a general hate for science as it is constantly showing that the basis of his Libertarian/Randite religion is non-reality and fraud.

"Thank the AGWites and eugenicists for bolstering the reputation of scientists." - RyggTard

He doesn't exist in a reality based universe.
Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (6) Jul 28, 2012
What a coincidence.

I blame Christ, and for the very same reason.

"You know who I blame... Obama, because he is a socialist"
Jeddy_Mctedder
3.3 / 5 (7) Jul 28, 2012
anyone against fracking is pro-coal, or anti-electricity generation. simple as that.

i'm fine with being anti-electrciity consumption. but if you are going to bandy about and then complain later on that the u.s. begins using coal again because of electricity shortages, then you're anti-fracking campiagn is not based on sound energy policy but on sheer foolish complaining.

put forward a policy, not a series of stupid complaints that no energy source is fully clean. .
Bob_Kob
3.3 / 5 (6) Jul 28, 2012
its a fracking mistake to trust him
alfie_null
4 / 5 (5) Jul 28, 2012
Lying through omission. Amusing to see people ineptly think they can get away with it while otherwise basking in the limelight.
CapitalismPrevails
2.5 / 5 (8) Jul 28, 2012
These whining statists are amazing. I guess you can have all kinds of biased studies with direct ties to enviromental groups BUT NOT the fracking companies. Talk about double, triple standards.

http://www.scienc...nt-91102
http://phys.org/n...oss.html
antialias_physorg
4.1 / 5 (9) Jul 28, 2012
does this really surprise anyone?

No.

The last time physorg had a piece on someone saying that the chemicals used in fracking were harmless, I googled around a bit only to find that said person had sat on the board of directors of not one, but two companies that manufacture the fracking chemicals in the past.

So, no...no surprise at all. The whole "Fracking is the future" thing is one PR action.
ryggesogn2
1.8 / 5 (5) Jul 28, 2012
Who the US EPA be trusted not to be influenced by the watermelons?

"While campaigning for the Presidency, then-Senator Barack Obama told the San Francisco Chronicle that he would bankrupt the coal industry. Today, the Environmental Protection Agency busily endeavors to fulfill the Presidents pledge by imposing unnecessary regulations that are virtually impossible for coal-fired power plants to achieve."
http://www.realcl...419.html

And don't forget how Obama 'invested' in Solnydra and....
Pressure2
4 / 5 (8) Jul 28, 2012
Rygg2, big deal, Obama only lost $500 million. Bush cost us over a trillion on two wars and did not win either one.

Many green energy companies will fail just like most auto companies failed at the start of the auto industry.

Close to where I live there have been two water wells contaminated by nearby fracking.
omatwankr
2 / 5 (4) Jul 28, 2012
As can be seen by reading the comments on the original physorg article when this study was released
http://phys.org/n...ing.html
Many here impugned the honesty this report within minutes.

Seems these Frackers are using the best science money can buy just like the Anti-Global-Warming-Pro-Cablist-Socilist-Wall Street-Statest-Trilateralised-Bliderburgian-Bankster-Obamaista-Deniers.
Honest, God fearing, pro-industry types release paid for research that will be endlessly regurgitated by idiots to support an agenda that is all to obvious
ryggesogn2
1.7 / 5 (6) Jul 28, 2012
Many green energy companies will fail just like most auto companies failed at the start of the auto industry.

Sure, but the money lost was NOT the taxpayer's money.

How much did the loss of the World Trade center cost in lives and economic activity? That attack was the culmination of years of planning by the attackers and years of ignoring the threat by govts.
The prime function of any legitimate govt is to defend the state from attack.
It is NOT the function of a legitimate govt to choose what business should succeed, fail or be invested because such central planning has a long record of dismal failures in wealth and lives.
Ensign_nemo
4.2 / 5 (6) Jul 28, 2012
Since when did the scientific method require that the scientist must have no financial interest in the outcome of an experiment?

This entire article is an ad hominem attack on the reputation of the experimenter rather than the data from his experiment.

I can't tell if there was an error or not because the article barely describes the actual experimental study and fails to prove or disprove anything about the actual data.

This sort of thing is why average people are losing faith in scientists - very little actual data and too much political fingerpointing.
ryggesogn2
1.8 / 5 (5) Jul 28, 2012
This sort of thing is why average people are losing faith in scientists - very little actual data

There should be no excuse for not making ALL raw data available along with the processes used to collect that data so anyone can perform an independent review.
Pressure2
4.3 / 5 (6) Jul 28, 2012
Rygg2, and what did Iraq have to do with 9/11? That is where the bulk of taxpayer's money was wasted.

Excuse me, I am not exactly right, Bush never paid for that war. your kids and grandkids will have to pay for it.

Then to add insult to injury, Bush left us with the worst most costly recession since the Great Depression.
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Jul 28, 2012
"Many here impugned the honesty this report within minutes." - Omatwankr

Yes. Antialias had him pegged immediately.

"It gets even better...before he entered the Bush administration Bodman was the CEO of Cabot Oil and Gas company (1988-2001)." = Antialias
ryggesogn2
1.3 / 5 (3) Jul 28, 2012
"Saddam supported groups that either associated directly with al-Qaeda or that generally shared al-Qaedas stated goals and objectives. His regime was willing to co-opt or support organizations it knew to be a part of al-Qaeda as long as the organizations near-term goals supported Saddams long-term vision.
"One point that is often missed in the debate over Saddam Husseins terror connections is the fact that his regime was the only one to not condemn the 9/11 attacks and the only one to publicly celebrate them. "
http://frontpagem...or-ties/
Pressure2
4.3 / 5 (6) Jul 28, 2012
Rygg2, you barely know what you are talking about. Saddam and al-Qaeda were enemies. Sure they supported some of the same goals and hated America.

When Saddam ruled Iraq there were few if any al-Qaeda in Iraq. Today thanks to Bush the place is infested with them. And he spent nearly a trillion dollars to accomplish that feat. Al-Qaeda thanks you Mr. Bush.

Your link is a right-wing hatchet job with little worth reading.

Read something with a little more credibility:
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, whose 2006 report of Phase II of its investigation into prewar intelligence reports concluded that there was no evidence of ties between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.
http://en.wikiped...egations
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (1) Jul 29, 2012
No he didn't. al-Quaeda is a fabrication of the U.S. propaganda industry, and didn't exist before the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. Saddam could not support a group that didn't exist.

The Taliban did exist of course, but the Taliban were not involved with 911, and were actually funded by the U.S. Particularly the Reagan Administration.

Just 4 months before America's invasion of Afghanistan, the Bush Administration gave the Taliban %50 million.

"Saddam supported groups that either associated directly with al-Qaeda or that generally shared al-Qaedas stated goals and objectives." - RyggTard

Your source for the quote is a quack blogger of course... He runs a web site from which he sells self published pamphlets and quack microbooks that he has written.

http://www.source...Marxist)

David Horowitz = Dishest Right Wing Blowhard.
Credibility = 0.00

extinct
1 / 5 (1) Jul 29, 2012
let me guess: Groat still has his job...? the article says nothing about discipline taken against him for his destructive lies. un-freakin-believable. i can't believe how modern-day members of homo sapiens are so brain-damaged that they're lining up to sell the planet for some quick bucks. it's a good thing i don't have any authority because if i did, Mr. Groat would already be serving his 90 days in solitary confinement where he could rethink his ways, and if he was to re-offend upon release, then he'd be behind bars for life with no possibility of parole. how else do you deal with zombies?
SatanLover
2.4 / 5 (5) Jul 29, 2012
i giggle when people say marxist church... people are so incredibly dumb its unbelievable.