Ernes Moniz, Obama’s top candidate for Energy Secretary
Oil and gas companies are funding research at major universities to counter environmental objections to shale gas drilling. President Obama is considering appointing a key beneficially of industry monies at MIT as his new energy secretary.
The oil and gas industry has campaigned hard and paid handsomely for academic support for its media talking points.
Those efforts to justify and promote aggressive drilling for natural gas in shale formations recently erupted in scandal at three highly-regarded universities: Penn State University, the University of Texas at Austin and the State University of New York at Buffalo. Each time, critics of industry-friendly research ferreted out the university’s failure to fully disclose industry ties and ran to the media, which reliably produced ‘gotcha’ stories and nicknamed the practice “Frackademia.”
But those stories ignored or barely mentioned the energy industry’s pervasive influence at an even more prestigious school: the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. MIT’s brand as a reliable source of peerless science remains intact. Continue reading “Frackademia” – MIT’s Ernest Moniz, Obama’s Top Candidate for Energy Secretary, Oversees Pro-Industry-Funded Research
Shale Gas, North Carolina
Two of 15 members of a panel set up to write the regulations for hydraulic fracturing in North Carolina have potential conflicts of interest, according to disclosure forms and land records. Both members were assigned to seats that were supposed to go to environmentalists. And the chairman of the state Mining and Energy Commission says he intends to move swiftly to draft regulations and likens the risks of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, to the chances of getting hit in the head with a meteorite.
All of this has environmentalists wondering how impartial the panel will be.
“We were well aware that most of these appointees…were folks that were pro-fracking,” Hope Taylor, executive director of Clean Water for North Carolina says. “Many of them have been overtly, outspokenly pro-drilling.” Continue reading Pro-Industry Interests Dominate N.C. Commission Writing Hydraulic Fracturing Regulations
Cuomo-Connected PR Firm Pushes Inergy-Crafted Letter to Media and NY DEC
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y.—An Inergy LP official called a consulting engineer in January to urge him to recant decade-old negative conclusions about the structural integrity of a local salt cavern that the Kansas City energy company now plans to use to store liquid butane.
The engineer, Larry Sevenker of Kenner, La., produced a three-paragraph letter Jan. 15 to “set the record straight.” In an interview Feb. 3, Sevenker acknowledged that a company official helped him craft the letter and that he is still paid by the company.
Letter in hand, Inergy turned to M Public Affairs, a recently-hired public relations firm with close ties to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to disseminate it by making cold calls to upstate New York media outlets. Meanwhile, an attorney for Inergy, Kevin Bernstein of Syracuse, forwarded Sevenker’s letter to the state Department of Environmental Conservation with a cover letter that ended: “In short, Mr. Sevenker recognizes that his 2001 conclusion regarding a roof collapse was erroneous and effectively recants his inaccurate conclusion.” Continue reading At Industry’s Urging, Engineer Reverses Position on LPG Cavern Storage
Other Major Safety and Environmental Issues Confront Inergy in the New York Finger Lakes Region
Inergy Salt Plant, Watkins Glen, NY
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y.—A Kansas City energy company is urging New York and federal regulators to disregard explicit warnings about the structural integrity of two salt caverns that it plans to use to store millions of barrels of highly-pressurized liquid propane and butane.
One cavern was plugged and abandoned 10 years ago after a consulting engineer from Louisiana concluded that its roof had collapsed in a minor earthquake. He deemed the rubble-filled cavity “unusable” for storage. It is now scheduled to hold 600,000 barrels of liquid butane.
The other cavern sits directly below a rock formation weakened by faults and characterized by “rock movement” and “intermittent collapse,” according to a 40-year-old academic study that cautioned that the cavern might be plagued by “difficulties in production arising from the geological environment.” That cavern is scheduled to hold 1.5 million barrels of liquid propane.
Continue reading Inergy Seeks Approval for Gas Storage in Once Deemed Unusable Salt Caverns