Sunday, April 15, 2012

Best Scientific Research that Corporate Money can buy

On April 13, 2012, the Ithaca Journal ran an article entitled:

Can science be bought?: Opponents in fracking debate discredit each other's research

 The article mainly focuses on the Natural Gas Industry bashing studies which were funded by "environmental" sources. 

There's only one paragraph mentioning "industry" money and buying science, as follows:

"Industry groups have received their share of criticism for funding studies as well, including several industry-funded papers from Pennsylvania State University that have found great potential for job creation and gas production from drilling into the Marcellus Shale."

We'll try to remedy the Ithaca Journal's "oversight" by connecting a few "dots".

1 In October 2007, Engelder was named a distinguished lecturer for the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. That position brought him to the attention of Chandra, the investment banker. Wall Street's interest had already been piqued by the success of the Barnett Shale in Texas, but analysts thought it was a unique formation. Just as Zagorski had realized, Chandra grew to understand that Barnett and Marcellus bore intriguing similarities. What investment firm Jefferies Group needed was someone who knew the rock. ``We looked around and Terry seemed at the time to be a geologist focused specifically in Pennsylvania or the Appalachian region,'' Chandra said.

Chandra is Subash Chandra, managing director for Jefferies Group, an investment group.  Jefferies has a whole area dedicated to ENERGY INVESTMENT BANKING.

Terry Engelder is a professor at Penn State, and since 2007, has become the "go to person" for pumping the shale gas.

Heading up the Jefferies Energy Investment Banking, is Ralph Eads III.

Ralph Eads is vice chairman of Jefferies & Co., Inc., a U.S. investment bank, where he chairs the firm's global energy section. He also serves on the board of the American Clean Skies Foundation, a nonprofit charitable organization that provides information about environmental and energy issues.

Jefferies & Co Energy Investments has helped Chesapeake Energy close on many big deals.

American Clean Skies Foundation is a front group for Chesapeake Energy.  Aubrey McClendon is CEO of Chesapeake Energy.  

On the Duke University donor profile link, Ralph Eads III is described as "...fraternity brother, close friend, and fellow donor/volunteer Aubrey McClendon.

2. Terry Pegula, former CEO of East Resources, "donated" $88million to Penn State for a hockey arena. He was interviewed by a Penn State student publication and asked about the "donation"

“If you could tell students here at Penn State one thing, what would it be?”

He (Pegula) paused for just a millisecond before saying,

” I would tell students that this contribution could be just the tip of the iceberg, the first of many such gifts, if the development of the Marcellus Shale is allowed to proceed.”

Now ask yourself, if the $88-million was an above board honest donation for a hockey arena - why did Pegula mention Marcellus shale?

On a side note: Terry Pegula, and his wife, Kim, donated $280,000 to the 2010 Tom Corbett to his campaign for Pennsylvania Governor.  Their combined total makes them the #1 individual donor.

The #2 highest individual donor was Ronald Krancer, father of Michael Krancer (the now PA-DEP Secretary) at $230,000.

3. Training the Hens to Guard themselves?
Now the industry will pay to train the people who set policy and enforce it.

ExxonMobil and GE will be investing $1 million each to establish new training programs at three universities, including Penn State, “to ensure that regulators and policymakers have access to the latest technological and operational expertise to assist in their oversight of shale development,” according to a Penn State press release issued Thursday.

With money from the drilling industry, Penn State’s Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research will offer a new “Shale Gas Regulators Training Program” to provide “best-practices training” to people who oversee the drilling industry.

The center’s co-director, Tom Murphy, said in a press release the program will “offer new regulators the chance to learn the latest science-based concepts related to geology, petroleum technology and environmental quality.”

Until now, Murphy had maintained that the Marcellus Center operated free and clear of industry funding.
4. 11/1/2010 - AUSTIN, Texas — ConocoPhillips has committed to contribute $1.5 million over five years to support cutting-edge energy research at The University of Texas at Austin. The five-year grant, administered through the university's interdisciplinary Energy Institute, is split evenly between the Cockrell School of Engineering and the McCombs School of Business. The Energy Institute provides guidance to the state of Texas and the nation on sustainable energy security through the pursuit of research and education programs.

A study was recently released by the University of Texas on connection between Fracking and Water contamination.  It concluded there is no connection.

Heading up the study was one Charles "Chip" Grout, Director, Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy; Director, Energy & Earth Resources graduate program; Jackson Chair in Energy and Mineral Resources Department of Geological Sciences.

Charles "Chip" Grout also serves on the board of Plains Exploration and Production Co. (PXP) as an independent director. He formerly served six and a half years as Director of the U.S. Geological Survey, having been appointed by President Clinton and retained by President Bush.

Buried in the study and under-reported by the media is this little nugget:

There are other dangers, the study says:

"In spite of the much broader disclosure of the ingredients of the [fracturing] additives, there is not yet a clear understanding of what are the key chemicals of concern for environmental toxicity or their chemical concentration in the injected fluid."

"The greatest potential for impacts from a shale gas well appears to be from failure of the well integrity," meaning a poor job of cementing the well casing, allowing chemicals to leak into an aquifer by flowing upward between the casing and the borehole.

ad more here:

PA colleges/universities DO NOT have to disclose funding/donation sources, which means high probability even more industry money is being pumped into these institutions.

Gov. Corbett's budget cuts have increased pressure on colleges and universities to accept more "donations" from the Natural Gas Industry and/or lease land for fracking.
See: Pieces of Silver - Act 13  Connecting the Dots: The Marcellus Natural Gas Play Players – Part 5

UPDATE 4/16:  Is DEP head Krancer is pressuring Wilkes University to change Wilkes University report on Act 13  because he doesn't agree with it?

DEP boss raps Wilkes report on drilling Michael Krancer calls the university study of new state regulations ‘biased.’  By MATT HUGHES - Apr 14, 2012

During a February visit to the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research at Wilkes University, Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer praised the institute’s work in conducting unbiased scientific research into the environmental impact of Marcellus Shale gas drilling.

Last week, Krancer changed his tone, harshly criticizing a March report on Act 13, Pennsylvania’s newly-enacted drilling impact fee law.

In a letter to institute Director Ken Klemow, Krancer referred to statements he made during his February tour of the facility, when he said the institute is “interested in science just as we’re interested in science,” and “we can’t have too many institutions do this kind of work. It’s great work, as long as it remains unbiased.”

“However,” the secretary wrote this week. “I found the recent Institute Report on Act 13 to be neither science nor unbiased. It is political commentary and very misleading to boot.”

Excerpt: The directors of the two institutes that crafted the study referred comment to Wilkes University spokesman Jack Chielli, who said the university and institute directors are “reviewing the secretary’s comments carefully and may modify our analysis of Act 13 should we determine that is necessary.”


  1. Marcellus shale jobs nowadays are booming and giving opportunities to people who are jobless. Imagine a young man who would be working some meanial job, at minimum wage, in a place where there is no industry, packs up his pick-up truck with some essentials and some money in his pocket, says goodbye to his family and friends, then embarks on a journey that will change his life. marcellus shale jobs pittsburgh

    1. So, are you saying that a young man needing a job is worth poisoning people, making their land worth nothing, having towns all over PA and Ohio being left with ruined roads and bridges, ruining people's lives?

      You obviously don't have a single clue of what you speak about. Live in these people's shoes and live through their pain and loss and then tell me what that job means.

  2. Right, money8869, drilling the Marcellus creates thousands of jobs. Trouble is, it turns the countryside into a heavy industry park, destroying jobs. If the industry were to have its way and be permitted to frack New York, they would create thousands of jobs. And they would destroy tens of thousands of jobs in dairying, farming, organic farming, vineyards and wineries, and tourism. That would leave New York decidedly in the hole, not to mention the water, air, aquifer and soil pollution, the wrecking of its rural infrastructure.

    And not to mention the kind of effect the industry's deep pockets have demonstrated on the legislation, administration and regulatory agencies of Pennsylvania.

    Your young man with a pickup can find meaningful work in New York, and Pennsylvania,too. May not make him rich - I've worked hard all my life and I am not rich, and a bunch like me - but we all can sleep nights with a clean conscience that we haven't wasted our land, water, soil and beauty. For the sake of money.

    1. Well said Dwain Wilder. There is a trade-off many of us are not willing to make for the "thousands of jobs" that will result from the natural gas boom. With every boom a bust follows leaving us with the mess.

  3. 400 Tcf Terry Engelder is the poster boy of the 'made-as-paid' pseudo scientists.

    And it goes downhill from there.

    All of the industry studies overstate the benefits -

    and understate the risks

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