No Fracking Way

University of Texas Fires Frackademics

by Chip Northrup on December 6, 2012

The University of Texas does not like to be made a fool of by frackademics. So they fired the local Shale Shamstitute’s Director and ran the lead frackademic off into an ignominious retirement. It was not just that the frackademics had ties to frackers, it was that the report itself was made up of industry generated white papers stapled together – then stamped “University of Texas.”  UT was not amused. University of Texas reviewers blast fracking report and recommend its withdrawal

Bravo Bevo. Don’t frack with the University of Texas. 

Bevo: Don’t Frack With the University of Texas.

The paper in questioned was transparently a batch of industry propaganda – here is my take : it is literally some public relations reports stapled together – about “how fracking is perceived” by the public, how “fracking was covered in the press”, plus the usual happy talk about how there aren’t any problems associated with shale gas wells. It could have been written by Chesapeake’s PR dept. And in fact, much of it probably was. At a minimum, it was a shoddy, hackneyed piece of work. By a serial offender – Charles “Chip” Groat, who became a frackademic after resigning from the USGS during a scandal 

Over a nuclear waste dump. (Cannot make this stuff up.)

The press has not focused on what a shoddy piece of work it actually is.

Dory (see comments below) picked up on the fact that the lead author of the UT Frack Paper, Charles “Chip” Groat is evidently an old hand at cooking reports.  While he was Director of the U.S. between 1998 and 2000, three USGS scientists working on water infiltration projects for the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear repository facility exchanged emails revealing that they had altered or outright falsified the results of their research to produce desired outcomes. One of the scientists, Joseph Hevesi, would later have to be subpoenaed to appear before a House of Representatives subcommittee after refusing to cooperate with their investigation. This investigation prompted Groat to resign and go to work at UT as a frackademic. . .

Turning to the content of the study, the reviewers concluded that “[t]he report summary failed to reflect either the tentative nature of the conclusions reached in the white papers [comprising the report] or the often strong caveats conveyed by their individual authors.” They called the oral presentations of the report “inappropriately selective in the use of material from the white papers…to suggest that public concerns were without scientific basis.” Later, the reviewers said that the summary of the researchers’ findings “fails to reflect accurately the magnitude of concerns” raised by the white papers and “uses statements such as ‘there is no evidence’ to counter public concerns, when, in fact, the white papers themselves stressed quite the opposite viewpoint” that the dearth of actual data demanded “serious consideration.”

“It should be stressed,” the reviewers said, “that the term ‘fact-based’ would not apply to [the report’s analysis] in the sense characterizing scientific research since there were relatively little scientific data presented or, according to the authors, available to be presented.”

The reviewers also found that “[t]he project was hampered by the absence of knowledgeable senior leadership that should have been provided by the Principal Investigator.” Incredibly, the report noted that “Dr. Groat indicated during an interview with the Review Committee that he did not read the white papers prepared by the Senior Contributors.”

The review concludes with a series of six recommendations for the university, most notably that “[g]iven the conclusion that current draft of the report generated by the subject study falls short of the generally accepted rigor required for the publication of scientific work, the Review Committee recommends that the current report…be withdrawn.”

Sic Semper Frackademics

Andrew Revkin gets the scoop:

ETHICS December 6, 2012, 3:59 pm

Damning Review of Gas Study Prompts a Shakeup at the University of Texas


The University of Texas said today that it has accepted the findings of a damning independent review of the preparation of a report on potential impacts of shale gas drilling by the school’s Energy Institute. The school said it will undertake six recommended actions, the most significant being the withdrawal of papers from the Energy Institute’s Web site related to the report until they are submitted for fresh expert review.

In its news release, the university said that the lead investigator, Professor Chip Groat, retired last month and the institute’s director, Raymond Orbach, resigned.

The independent review, by a trio of noted science administrators and scholars, expressly did not examine the quality of the study’s findings, but focused on issues related to its creation — particularly what it deemed to be serious problems with undisclosed financial interests (earlier Dot Earth coverage is here).

Click here to read or download the full report: “A review of the processes of preparation and distribution of the report “Fact-Based Regulation for Environmental Protection in Shale Gas Development.”

Here’s the section of the report recommending the withdrawal of the gas study, followed by the text of the news release: Read more…











Report blasts University of Texas fracking study, lax oversight. A review panel that examined conflict-of-interest charges against the leader of a University of Texas at Austin study on hydraulic fracturing released a report Thursday that harshly criticized the study’s findings and the university’s ethics rules for research. San Antonio Express-News, Texas. 7 December 2012.

Texas Energy Institute head quits amid fracking study conflicts. The head of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin resigned following an investigation that found conflicts of interest in a study on the risks of natural gas drilling. Business Week. 7 December 2012.

Profs decry deal with shale group. The Community College of Philadelphia’s faculty union has called on the college to sever ties with the Marcellus Shale Coalition after the industry trade group pledged $15,000 to the school’s new Energy Training Center. Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania. 7 December 2012. 

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike H. December 6, 2012 at 7:16 pm

But, what will the Koch brothers think about this? They seem to be the biggest influence about energy issues in the US.


Dory Hippauf December 7, 2012 at 9:31 am

U.S. Geological Suvey chief Groat resigns
Suzanne Struglinski | Friday, June 10, 2005 | 9:37 a.m.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Geological Survey chief resigned Thursday, but a spokeswoman said his departure has nothing to do with the ongoing investigation into e-mails that indicate his agency’s employees may have falsified data on the Yucca Mountain project.

At the hearing, Groat declined to discuss the e-mails in detail pending inspector general investigations. ‘We have a 125-year reputation for sound, unbiased science,” Groat said in written testimony submitted to the panel. “Anything that casts aspersions on that reputation disturbs us greatly. We, as do you, look forward the to completion of the ongoing investigations to fully determine the impacts and appropriate responses.”

Groat plans to accept appointments as the Jackson Chairman in energy and mineral resources in the School of Geosciences and the founding director of the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Texas at Austin, according to the Interior Department.

Congressional Testimony, 2005
Statement of Charles G. Groat
Director, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Department of the Interior
Before the House Committee on Government Reform, Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce and Agency Organization
On The Yucca Mountain Project
April 5, 2005


Chip Northrup December 7, 2012 at 9:46 am

History repeats itself – as farce . . .


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