Tag Archives: study

From DeSmogBlog.com: UT-Austin Administration Distances Itself from “Frackademia” Study

Weeks after SUNY Buffalo’s upper-level administration gave the Shale Resources and Society Institute (SRSI) the boot due to its gas industry public relations effort masked as a “study,” University of Texas-Austin’s (UT-Austin) administration has somewhat followed suit for its own “frackademia” study.

The decision comes in the aftermath of an independent review of a controversial study completed under UT-Austin’s auspices.

Like SRSI’s “shill gas study,” UT-Austin brought itself attention when it published a “study” in February 2012 titled, “Separating Fact From Fiction in Shale Gas Development.” UT-Austin’s study – conducted under the wings of its Energy Institute – claimed that there’s “no scientific proof” that unconventional oil and gas developement can be linked to groundwater contamination.

As it turns out, the author’s lead investigator, Charles “Chip” Groat is on the payroll of the oil and gas industry via Plains Exploration & Production, a direct conflict-of-interest under the standards of academia (not to be confused with those of “frackademia”). “Groat earned more than double his University of Texas salary as a PXP board member in 2011 – $413,900 as opposed to $173,273 – and he has amassed over $1.6 million in stock during his tenure there,” Public Accountability Initiative (PAI) explained in a report.

The embarrassment created by these revelations moved Groat to retire after the spring semester, while the head of the Energy Institute, Raymond Orbach, stepped down today as head of the Institute, though he’ll still remain on the UT-Austin faculty.

UT-Austin’s administration, in effect, has decided to distance itself from the report due to its numerous conflicts-of-interest, though unlike the SRSI, the Energy Institute won’t be ended.

“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,” explained The New York Times.

Kevin Connor, Director of PAI, issued this statement in response to UT-Austin’s decision:

The University of Texas has now joined the University at Buffalo in sending a strong message to the oil and gas industry: our universities are not for sale. This is another major blow to gas industry pseudoscience and a victory for academic integrity in the debate around fracking.

The University of Texas deserves credit for taking a difficult but important stand for transparency and integrity by releasing this review and pursuing these recommendations.

U of Michigan: The Next Frontier for “Frackademia”?

This announcement comes soon after University of Michigan-Ann Arbor stated it would be conducting its own forthcoming two-year study on the ecological impacts of fracking in Michigan.

“Industry representatives, nongovernmental organizations, state government officials, academic experts and other stakeholders are providing input,” explained University of Michigan in a press release.

Members of the study’s Steering Committee include two representatives of the Michigan Oil and Gas Association and members of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s cabinet, along with several university-affiliated faculty members.

A Dec. 3 story by Energy and Environment News explained that Energy in Depth, the shale gas industry front group, will also be deeply involved with the study.

“Some of those stakeholders are being pulled in as resources for the UM study, said Energy in Depth Field Director Erik Bauss, whom UM researchers have already called on to help facilitate a visit to a Michigan frack site,” wrote E and E.

Given the recent state of play for “frackademics,” DeSmog will be keeping a close eye on the Michigan study in the weeks and months ahead. Stay tuned.

See original article here

Study: The Cost of Fracking: Environment Maryland Documents the Dollars Drained by Dirty Drilling

Firing a new salvo in the ongoing debate over the gas drilling practice known as “fracking,” Environment Maryland Research & Policy Center released a report documenting a wide range of dollars and cents costs imposed by dirty drilling. As documented in “The Cost of Fracking,” fracking creates millions of dollars of health costs related to everything from air pollution to ruined roads to contaminated property.

“The environmental damage from fracking is bad enough, but it turns out that this dirty and dangerous form of drilling imposes heavy dollar and cents costs as well. And that is all the more reason we must keep Maryland free from fracking,” said Tommy Landers, Director of Environment Maryland.

“It’s time to ban fracking. Even with regulation, any economic gains will not offset the damage done to our environment. It’s time to focus on renewable solutions like offshore wind—solutions that will bring more jobs and less environmental degradation, solutions that focus on
the well being of Main St. rather than the profits of industry,” said Delegate Shane Robinson of Maryland’s 39th District.

“From start to finish, fracking is too risky for Maryland. Governor O’Malley and the Maryland Legislature should call for a ban on fracking across the state,” said Miranda Carter, Mid-Atlantic Organizer for the group Food & Water Watch.

While the report documents a wide range of costs imposed by fracking, Environment Maryland is particularly concerned about what water contamination would mean for Maryland. Fracking operations contaminate drinking water sources in many ways – from spills to leaking waste pits to methane from drilling itself.

In Dimock, Pennsylvania, fracking operations contaminated the drinking water wells of several households for roughly three years, perhaps more. Just providing 14 of those families with temporary water cost more than $100,000. Providing a permanent new source of clean drinking
water would have cost an estimated $11.8 million.

In addition to water cleanup costs, the report shows that fracking damage exacts other tolls on communities – from road repairs to health costs to emergency response.

“The health of Marylanders and others throughout the region is already at risk. We deserve better, and our children and grandchildren deserve better,” said Kristen Welker-Hood, ScD RN.

The report includes the following examples of such costs:

  • Health: in Arkansas’ Fayetteville Shale region, air pollution from fracking operations impose health costs estimated at $9.8 million in one year. In Texas’ Barnett Shale region, those costs reach $270,000 per day during the summer smog season.
  • Roads to Ruin: With fracking operations requiring thousands of trips by trucks and heavy machinery, a Texas task force approved $40 million in funding for road repairs in the Barnett Shale region.

Moreover, as with previous extractive booms, fracking will impose long-term costs as well. As noted in the report, the coal boom in Appalachia left Pennsylvania with an estimated $5 billion cost for cleaning up acid mine drainage.

The Costs of Fracking report comes before the 2013 legislative session, in which Del. Robinson plans to introduce an outright ban on fracking in Maryland.

“We already know about fracking’s damage to our environment and health. These dollars and cents costs are one more reason to reject this dirty drilling practice,” concluded Landers.


You can view the findings of the study HERE

Study: Impacts of Gas Drilling on Human and Animal Health

Read the findings of Bamberger and Oswald’s study on the impacts of gas drilling on Human and Animal Health HERE

From the Dallas Observer: New Study Shows Fracking is Bad For Dallas’ Air Quality. Environmentalists Want City Hall to Take Note

By Eric Nicholson Tue., Sep. 4 2012 at 2:35 PM

See original article here

Update on Sept. 5: Industry groups naturally dispute Schermbeck’s conclusions. A response from Steve Everly from Energy in Depth follows the original post.


Original postMuch of the fracking debate has focused on if and how carcinogens like benzene and hexane find their way into the air and water supplies. Less attention has been paid to the impact of gas drilling on ozone levels, which is significant. Just how significant is hinted at in a new study published in the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association by researcher Eduardo Olaguer of the Houston Advanced Research Center.

The paper looks exclusively at gas processing facilities in the Barnett Shale and finds that routine operations can increase ozone levels by three parts per billion for several miles downwind, with the figure sometimes reaching 10 ppb. That not only significantly increases smog but also makes it more difficult for the region to get out of the EPA’s doghouse. Already, nine DFW counties fail to meet the federal ozone standard of 85 ppb.

“(U)nless significant controls are placed on emissions from increased oil and gas exploration and production…. urban drilling and the associated growth in industry emissions may be sufficient to keep the area (DFW) in nonattainment,” Olaguer writes.

Jim Schermbeck, who heads the environmental group Downwinders at Risk, said natural gas producers were exempted from the provision Clean Air Act governing ozone because operations were so dispersed. That’s changed as the drilling boom has brought thousands of drill sites — and the flares and industrial-sized compressors they bring with them — close to urban areas. Now, Schermbeck says, they are a bigger contributor to Dallas’ ozone levels than cement kilns, coal plants, and car emissions.

Schermbeck doesn’t see any state or federal solution on the horizon, so he’s placing his bets on the city of Dallas in hopes that the drilling ordinance they ultimately pass includes limits on the release of the volatile organic compounds that lead to ozone formation. The technology already exists to easily do so, but it hasn’t been widely adopted because no one has mandated it.

“This study should be a wakeup call for all these officials in Dallas/FW who have sort of made a Faustian bargain with the drillers,” he said.

Update: Everly’s statement:

Opponents have tried numerous times to inflate air quality risks in the Barnett Shale with new ‘research’ that works backwards from a conclusion, but the public is smart enough to see through that. TCEQ has been examining real emissions levels in the Barnett Shale for years using actual air monitors (as opposed to modeling exercises with author-chosen inputs). Their tests have repeatedly shown there are ‘no levels of concern for any chemicals,’ and there are ‘no immediate health concerns from air quality in the area’ due to oil and gas operations. That may not make for a great fundraising email, but it does reflect the facts, which should be the basis for policymakers at City Hall.

See the study in full text