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Can Universities Credibly Probe Gas Impacts When Industry Foots the Bill?

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FrackingThe United States is now well on its way to a renewables-crushing, decades-long shale-gas bridge with an economic commitment to exporting this non-renewable domestic fuel and, absent dramatic market changes, there’s not much Congressman Markey or anyone else can do to stop it.

Given that this gas rush has been lent credibility by some sectors of academia, it is good that you bring up the topic of potential conflicts of interest in academia related to the issues surrounding shale gas.

There is a growing list of universities with apparent conflicts that have put their names on studies promoting gas — studies that have been used to sway elected officials and U.S. energy policy — but no one outside of the blogosphere has seemed to care.

It was pretty clear from the outset that the University of Texas report “Fact-Based Regulation for Environmental Protection in Shale Gas Development” would be widely quoted and used as a political tool, which it has been. As early as last November, news articles echoed preliminary findings of the study suggesting “no direct link to reports of groundwater contamination.”

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