The University at Buffalo today made public a report on its shale-gas research institute, which was crafted after the SUNY Board of Trustees asked for more information in the face of public criticism from faculty and advocates.
The report, which was sent to the trustees on Sept. 27, defends the university’s Shale Research and Society Institute, as well as a report it issued earlier this year that found that gas-drilling and hydrofracking violations in Pennsylvania had dropped in recent years and suggested that New York’s proposed regulations would have further prevented them.
But the report was quickly panned by good-government advocates and members of the University at Buffalo faculty, in part because the report’s primary author has penned previous studies with the financial support of the natural gas industry. Days after it was issued, a “peer-reviewed” label was pulled from a news release touting the report’s release.
In its report to the SUNY Trustees, UB provided a funding breakdown for the shale institute, and said that all of the funding for it and the report was provided by the school’s College of Arts and Sciences—not from industry. But as pointed out by Artvoice, the institute’s co-director, John Martin, is paid by the “arts and sciences account” in the UB Foundation, the university’s quasi-public fundraising arm.
“As with all research at UB, regardless of the source of funding, it is not the role of the university nor of the funding source to dictate the conclusions drawn by faculty investigators,” UB Provost Charles Zukoski said in a statement. “This core principle is critical to the preservation of academic freedom. This core principle is critical to the preservation of academic freedom.”
Among the other claims in UB’s report to the SUNY trustees: The Shale Research and Society Institute’s report “complied with all University at Buffalo ethics and conflict policies,” followed an “open peer-review method” rather than a traditional anonymous peer review, and contained two errors that were quickly corrected. In addition, “no concerns have been raised by the relevant scientific community about the data used in developing the report’s conclusion,” according to the university.
The full report can be found below: