What follows is the first part of a posting by Public Accountability Initiative, which describes itself as “a non-profit, public interest research organization investigating power and corruption at the heights of business and government.” Read the full report at the PAI site:
In May 2015, an extraordinary example of academic intimidation involving the oil and gas industry and a fracking researcher came to light.
According to documents obtained by Bloomberg, Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm had urged University of Oklahoma leadership to fire scientists investigating the role of fracking in causing Oklahoma’s recent spate of earthquakes. Earlier in 2015,EnergyWire had reported that Hamm and David Boren, a Continental board member and president of the University of Oklahoma, had met with the Oklahoma state seismologist, an OU employee, to talk about the public relations impact of OGS acknowledging the connection. This highly publicized instance of academic intimidation by the oil and gas industry is the latest in a series of cases in which the industry has exerted its power to intimidate, silence, and discredit scientists that have the temerity to issue research critical of fracking.
This trend can be seen as a part of the larger phenomenon known as “frackademia,” where the oil and gas industry – aided by friendly scientists, industry-funded academic units, allied consulting companies, and public relations firms – produce and promote research that portrays fracking as environmentally safe and of great economic benefit. PAI has reported extensively on frackademia, revealing shoddy scholarship and undisclosed conflicts of interest as well as a campaign to disseminate this biased and compromised research to policymakers.
[Photo credit: “Frac job in process” by Joshua Doubek – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Frac_job_in_process.JPG#/media/File:Frac_job_in_process.JPG]