Friday, April 26, 2013

The need for objective research on fracking ...

There's controversy in NY about a group that released a fracking report and their potential industry ties.  Story here.

A quote:

"The state released the company’s letter after a top good-government group and Democrats in the Legislature held a news conference earlier Monday, calling called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to rescind the DEC’s’s lengthy review of fracking because of Ecology and Environment’s “clear conflict of interest.”

"The consulting company’s work on the DEC’s lengthy environmental review has been criticized by fracking critics since it was released in September 2011."

Of course, these Democrats and the "good-government group" (whatever that means) don't like fracking, so they have a conflict of interest too, right?
I have no idea whether this report has merit. However, the problem with research on fracking is that it is so controversial many will believe there is a conflict of interest, regardless of the opinion.  If you have ties to the industry, that will cause some who have concerns over the validity of the research.  I don't think this is limited to groups with ties to industry, however. Some of the people without industry ties that have condcuted research on fracking publish it on sites calling for bans or moratoriums. (E.g., see here.)  This causes others to have concerns over the validity of the research.

As noted before, myself and Dave Ramsaran, professor of Sociology, are researching the sociological and economic impacts of fracking.  We form what could be called an "adversarial collaboration".  That's not to say we're personal adversaries, but politically, we have different views.  I have quotes from Milton Friedman on my wall, while he has a poster of Che Guevara on his.  The benefit of our teaming up is that you should feel assured that our results are not the result of some preconceived political philosophy.  

The first papers from us on this project should be out in the late summer.  Stay tuned!

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