A thorough and well reported Bloomberg News story today revealed that several recent academic studies on fracking were ultimately funded by the gas drilling industry itself. These studies had the imprimaturs of respected public universities including Penn State, University of Texas and SUNY-Buffalo and were cited by politicians arguing for policies that are advantageous to the fracking industry. It turns out that the studies were either sponsored by the fracking industry or were prepared by researchers with a long history of producing industry-friendly reports, or both.
As Bloomberg reporter Jim Efstathiou Jr. writes, “As the U.S. enjoys a natural-gas boom from a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, producers are taking a page from the tobacco industry playbook: funding research at established universities that arrives at conclusions that counter concerns raised by critics.” The most prominent example is a 2009 Penn State report that was cited by lawmakers in rejecting a proposal for a 5 percent tax on gas drillers. Pennsylvania remains the biggest gas drilling state that doesn’t impose such a tax.