It was not very long ago when the news that Susan Rice, the most promising US candidate for Secretary of State, had big money in tar sands made headlines.Another conflict of interests concerning environmental issues and the US energy industry is now drawing significant amounts of attention.
A researcher working with the University of Texas has recently quit his job on account of his being financially tied to one of the country's natural gas producers.
Apparently, Charles Groat went through the trouble of putting together a report which stated that hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. fracking) posed no considerable threats to the environment, meaning that it did not contaminate groundwater sources, and eventually published said report.
However, he somehow failed to mention his money ties with Plains Exploration and Production Company.
More precisely, the fact that he is part and parcel of this company's board, and that he also receives an annual fee of nearly $60,000 (€46,455) somehow slipped his mind.
As Tree Hugger explains, Charles Groat's being tied to the natural gas industry in this manner might cause some people to question the validity of his pro-fracking statements.
Although a panel of experts outside the University of Texas, which was put together in order to look into this issue, didn't find anything wrong with the report itself, the fact remains that Charles Groat should not have kept silent about his connections with the fracking industry.
“The University of Texas at Austin recently received and agreed with the findings of an independent panel of national experts that reviewed the preparation and distribution of a 2012 UT Energy Institute report on Shale Gas Development, on which Professor Charles Groat served as principal investigator,” reads an official statement made by the University of Texas.
Furthermore, “The independent review was not commissioned to assess the merits or liabilities of hydraulic fracturing but the process through which the report was prepared and distributed.”