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Contaminated Inquiry: Prof with Money Ties to Industry Led Fracking Study

July 28, 2012

This article is re-posted from Common Dreams.

A recent University of Texas study, which claims to prove that the natural gas extraction process known as fracking does not cause environmental damage or water contamination, was led by a gas industry insider who currently holds up to $1.6 million in stock at a large fracking company. The information was revealed in a new exposé released by the Public Accountability Initiative (PAI).

The 400-page pro-fracking review in question was led by author Charles Groat of the University of Texas. Neither Groat nor the University openly reported that Groat himself is on the board of a fracking company, Plains Exploration and Production Company.

As a board member, Groat receives 10,000 shares of restricted stock a year. His holdings as of July 19th were worth $1.6 million. He also receives an annual fee, which was $58,500 in 2011, according to filings.

Groat did not reveal his position with the company when the report was released and told reporters that the university had turned down all industry funds for the study.

Groat’s report, Fact-based Regulation for Environmental Protection in Shale Gas Development, said that it separated “fact from fiction” and gave policy makers a way forward in a major natural gas boom. The study was reported widely by major news outlets.

On the contrary, the PAI maintains that Goat’s study contains unfounded facts and misinformation, misleading selective language, and includes inaccurate claims of peer review.

Groat’s research covered fracking operations in Texas, Louisiana, and the Marcellus Shale area. His company, Plains Exploration, is currently fracking in shale formations in Texas.

Following the PAI exposé, titled Contaminated Inquiry: How a University of Texas Fracking Study Led by a Gas Industry Insider Spun the Facts and Misled the Public, the university says it will assemble a group of independent experts to review the integrity of Goat’s study.

PAI’s exposé is the second in a series of studies revealing rampant and widespread industry ties to pro-fracking reports.

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