Environment
3:08 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

UB closes controversial shale institute

The University at Buffalo has announced that it is shutting down its Shale Resources and Society Institute, effective immediately.  UB President Satish Tripathi announced the decision Monday afternoon, following an internal assessment. 

The shale institute came under fire in May after it published a pro-hydrofracking study on the environmental impacts of natural gas drilling in New York's Marcellus Shale.  The authors concluded that strong state oversight reduced problems at fracked wells in Pennsylvania, and similar results could be achieved in New York, where the future of fracking is still being studied.

Questions soon surfaced about whether financial interests influenced the authors' conclusions. The study's authors were found to have ties to the oil and natural gas industry.  A coalition of faculty, staff, students and alumni questioned the study's academic integrity and called for an inquiry into the institute's industry ties.

WBFO's Daniel Robison reported on the controversy this summer.

In a statement, Tripathi says "it is imperative that our faculty members adhere to rigorous standards of academic integrity, intellectual honesty, transparency, and the highest ethical conduct in their work."

Tripathi says important societal research cannot be conducted when there is a "cloud of uncertainty" surrounding the institution. He says the university must clarify its policies regarding disclosure of financial interests.

Officials from UB declined to comment to WBFO News.