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UT Professor Resigns Over Fracking Conflict of Interest 190

eldavojohn writes "Dr. Charles 'Chip' Groat, lead author of a study claiming there was no link between fracking and water contamination, has resigned at the University of Texas along with Dr. Raymond Orbach, the head of UT's Energy Institute. The reason is that Groat served on the board of a drilling company and received compensation totaling over $1.5 million from that entity over the last five years including time he spent writing the study. After the Public Accountability Initiative gave the UT report a thorough beating for failing to mention this it sparked UT to recommend the report's withdrawal. PAI said the original report was 'based on literature surveys, incident reports and conjecture' and criticized UT's press from downplaying the many caveats. PAI also said conclusions of the original report were 'tentative,' that the press coverage was 'inappropriately selective' and 'seemed to suggest that public concerns were without scientific basis and largely resulted from media bias.' This study was also covered by Slashdot via MSNBC quoting Groat and calling fracking safe in theory but not in practice."
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UT Professor Resigns Over Fracking Conflict of Interest

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  • by acidfast7 ( 551610 ) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @02:33PM (#42263311)

    ... everyone's credibility is available for a few extra bucks. To be honest, 1.5M USD is a pretty damned small amount of money (his salary should be publicly available as he's a state employee in Texas), perhaps as little as 7 years salary (if a full prof.)

    Honestly, think of the environmental damage that's been done.

    He had a responsibility to the public ... ugh.

    I can't wait to watch the country continue to go down in flames.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @02:34PM (#42263327) Journal

    He might want to, um, keep a close eye on his drinks any time he is in fracking country... There might be one or two angry locals to contend with.

  • Re:A lot of money? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by acidfast7 ( 551610 ) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @02:56PM (#42263585)

    This isn't anyone. This was the Director of the USGS, which makes the whole situation even more despicable.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @03:41PM (#42264163)

    This would be more of a psychological assessment than an environmental one, and you might be surprised by the results. For example, Thomas Midgely, famously, huffed straight-up tetra-ethyl lead at a press conference to prove to the world that it was a safe additive for gasoline. It took him about a year to recover, but he got away with it, and his chemical was widely sold.

  • by edi_guy ( 2225738 ) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @04:02PM (#42264483)
    So once again he is asked to resign due to a controversy but maintains he was leaving anyway....want to bet that there will be a scandal at the "Water Institute of the Gulf" (his new gig) in a year or two? Below from a posting on by 'DoryHippauf ' Charles Groat Director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS ) resigned as Director on June 17, 2005. WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Geological Survey chief resigned Thursday, but a spokeswoman said his departure has nothing to do with the ongoing investigation into e-mails that indicate his agency's employees may have falsified data on the Yucca Mountain project. Between 1998 and 2000, three USGS scientists working on water infiltration projects for the proposed Yucca Mountain facility exchanged emails revealing that they had altered or outright falsified the results of their research to produce desired outcomes. At the hearing, Groat declined to discuss the e-mails in detail pending inspector general investigations. 'We have a 125-year reputation for sound, unbiased science," Groat said in written testimony submitted to the panel. "Anything that casts aspersions on that reputation disturbs us greatly. We, as do you, look forward the to completion of the ongoing investigations to fully determine the impacts and appropriate responses."
  • by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @05:15PM (#42265415) Homepage Journal

    I agree with you, though "goiter" probably isn't the best example. It's caused by iodine deficiency, not crap in the water.

    The problem with the crap in the water is that it takes years, or decades, to manifest itself. It shows up as an increase in chronic illnesses, so you can't claim all by yourself that your case was caused by them. It's very difficult to trace health problems to any one source of pollution.

    By the time you've managed to put together a rock-solid case that can survive the FUD the industry will put together, the specific entity to blame has "gone bankrupt" and sold off their assets.

"Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed." -- Robin, The Boy Wonder