Contaminated Inquiry

How a University of Texas Fracking Study Led by a Gas Industry Insider Spun the Facts and Misled the Public

PAI continues to investigate fracking industry influence on academic research with this report on a University of Texas study of fracking that claimed that the drilling practice had never been linked to groundwater contamination. UT promoted the study as an independent inquiry into fracking’s environmental risks, but PAI found that the study was actually led by a gas industry insider and UT faculty member, Charles “Chip” Groat, who sits on the board of fracker Plains Exploration & Production (PXP). Groat failed to disclose this position and his $1.6 million stake in the company.

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PAI’s report also dissects the UT report’s industry-friendly message, showing that its central claim– that fracking does not cause groundwater contamination – relies on a highly-specific and misleading definition of fracking, that the report was released as a rough draft and not ready for public release, and that the university’s press push around the report significantly mischaracterizes and oversimplifies its findings.

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This is the second report in PAI’s series on the fracking industry’s influence on the academy. The first report examined the University at Buffalo Shale Resources and Society Institute May 2012 report on fracking’s environmental effects.