President Barack Obama’s nominee for energy secretary is drawing criticism for leading a study that minimized risks of natural gas while failing to disclose that some of its researchers had financial ties to the industry.
The nominee, Ernest Moniz, who now is the head of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Energy Institute, came out with its report in 2011 that said the environmental risks of increased drilling and production “are challenging but manageable.”
One of the report’s co-authors had already agreed to take a position with Talisman Energy Inc. (TLM) when the report was released. Another researcher was on the board of Cheniere Energy Inc. (LNG), which is building an export facility for liquefied natural gas.
“The public should have been informed that MIT’s natural gas study was written by representatives of the oil and gas industry,” said Kevin Connor, director of the Public Accountability Initiative, a research group in Buffalo, New York that is critical of the use of hydraulic fracturing for gas drilling and compiled the details of these industry ties. “Aren’t there academics there not on the payroll of gas companies?”