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Researcher on fracking study has industry ties

According to a Scientific American story, the lead researcher on a study that found no connection between the hydraulic fracturing method of natural gas extraction and groundwater contamination turned out to have significant financial ties to the natural gas industry.

The article says that the study out of the University of Texas last February had drawn criticism for being too easy on the natural gas industry.

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking,” involves injecting chemically treated water deep below the earth’s surface to break up rock formations and release natural gas. It’s controversial because the fracking water contains toxic chemicals including the carcinogen benzene, and many environmentalists are worried that it may contaminate drinking water.

The Scientific American article says the initial study was great news for the industry, which has been struggling with public concerns over the environmental impact of fracking.

But it turned out that the study leader, Dr. Charles “Chip” Groat, a former Director of the U.S. Geological Survey and professor at the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin, also sits on the board of Plains Exploration and Production Company — a Houston-based company that conducts drilling around the country.

According to the report, Groat received more than $400,000 from the drilling company last year alone. One of the shales examined in his fracking study is currently being drilled by the company.

Since 2007, the report says, Groat has received over $1.5 million in cash and stock awards from the company, and he currently holds over $1.6 million in company stock.

Lopez McHugh is investigating injuries related to natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale – a rock formation that extends into parts of Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia. If you have significant injuries, contact a Lopez McHugh attorney for a free evaluation.

See the story here: