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.