Published on Aug 2, 2012
Video from our press conference 6/28. UB CLEAR is a coalition of faculty, students, staff, alumni, and concerned citizens.
On April 5, 2012, the University at Buffalo administration announced the UB Shale
Resources and Society Institute. On May 15, an official UB press release accompanied its first publication: "Environmental Impacts During Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling: Causes, Impacts and Remedies."
The Institute's formation violates UB procedures for creating centers and institutes. Its funding sources and plans are obscure. It solicits gas industry funding by presenting itself as a reliable advocate for hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." In exchange for contributions, it offers corporations privileged access to research and a special role in governance. And its hurried debut suggests not the independent search for knowledge proper to a university but a frantic and servile willingness to sell academic legitimacy to a gas industry public relations campaign.
The Institute's first report is fatally compromised. It was announced as peer-reviewed when it wasn't. Its authors failed to reveal in the report their financial connections to the gas industry. And the report itself is riddled with procedural flaws and errors of fact.
The ensuing controversy includes a widely-distributed AP story and an article in the June 11th New York Times. It has damaged UB's hard-won reputation and credibility. In response, a group of SUNY faculty, alums, students, and other citizens have established the UB Coalition for Leading Ethically in Academic Research (UB CLEAR). We call on the UB Administration to take these steps to prevent further damage and regain public trust in the university:
Suspend all funding, publications, and other operations of the Institute.
Reveal all documents bearing on the formation of the Institute, its staffing, its governance and oversight, and its funding. Explain how and why the Institute's first report came to be described publicly as "peer edited" and associated with the University itself and not just its authors. Adopt a goal of genuine, active transparency, not just the minimum required by law.
Establish a genuinely independent body, outside UB and the oil and gas industry, to investigate the Institute's formation and its relations to industry and other donors.
Hold a forum in which all interested UB and other community members can raise their concerns about the Institute, receive candid answers, and offer advice.