Monday, May 28, 2012

To Bruce Pitman, dean, College of Arts and Sciences, SUNY Buffalo

In response to this:

Dear Dean Pittman,

You claim that "UB has received no industry funding for SRSI".
There are a couple of issues with this statement.

First, is it true that SRSI is funded by
one or more University of Buffalo Foundations,
as one spokesman for the university told ARTVOICE?

If this is true, then there is a problem of transparency,
since these foundations are not subject to FOIL.

A similar shale institute at SUNY Fredonia
proudly claimed industry funding sources on its website,
before it was taken down, presumably as a result of public criticism.

So here we have one SUNY Shale Institute proud of its industry funding, while another denies it?
Does this signal a policy change at SUNY?

Or is it that the industry PR people are learning from their mistakes?

With all due respect to you, sir, this issue is too grave for the citizens of NY,
and I hope you will agree that we deserve transparency from our state university.

So if these foundations are involved, I hope you will open their books
for inspection.

The second issues is that while you deny industry funding of SRSI,
this issue at hand is industry funding of the first paper issued,
“Environmental Impacts During Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling”.

Would you go so far as to say, "No industry funding was involved in that report"?

Because as revealed by the Public Accountability Initiative (PAI),
that report had entire sections lifted from a prior (and uncited)
report funded by industry source through the Manhattan Institute.

PAI also revealed many errors, leading one to question the
academic integrity of the authors, SRSI, and UB.

In addition to the lack of citations, math errors, faulty logic,
and bogus conclusions, we note that the report was
first published as "peer-reviewed", however, this claim has been rescinded.

The sum of all of this will cause an ordinary member of the public
like me to suspect that the SUNY system, and UB in particular,
is being manipulated with money from a dirty, toxic industry,
to produce propaganda in order to engineer consent for
what can only be described as an INDUSTRIAL INVASION
and OCCUPATION of the Southern Tier, with the goal
of CONVERSION of this Democracy into a fascist mining colony.

Just to let you know, we the citizens of NY will not allow this to happen.

I will be writting to my state representatives to complain about
shoddy academic shenanigans going on at SUNY Buffalo,
and I will be asking that an inquiry be conducted.

Best Regards,
William Huston

original press statement follows

UB releases statement regarding
Shale Resources and Society Institute

Statement from E. Bruce Pitman, dean, College of Arts and Sciences
Published: May 25, 2012

The University at Buffalo views academic freedom as a core principle. Faculty members are free to conduct research on any topic, including controversial ones, and to disseminate their findings without prior review or approval by the university. The university’s role is to create a forum for objective research and informed debate—not to dictate the positions taken by its faculty members.

Under this principle, the findings presented in a recent report produced by the Shale Resources and Society Institute (SRSI) are the work of the authors, and any conclusions drawn are their views, not the views of the institution. Any questions related to the analysis and interpretation of the data must be referred to the authors.

The College of Arts and Sciences formed the Shale Resources and Society Institute (SRSI) in April 2012, with the goal of providing scientific research and analysis on all sides of the issues surrounding shale gas.

This topic is important and timely, and the work of such an institute is fully consistent with the university’s mission of teaching, research and public service.

On May 15, the institute released its first report, “Environmental Impacts During Marcellus Shale Drilling: Causes, Impacts and Remedies.”

In the days since, some criticisms of the authors’ conclusions have been raised. UB will examine all relevant concerns, in accordance with the university’s strong commitment to academic and research excellence.

There also have been questions raised about funding for the institute and for the report. UB has received no industry funding for SRSI. The institute’s expenses and the salary of its part-time director, John P. Martin, have been paid entirely by the College of Arts and Sciences using discretionary funds, which come from sources that include indirect cost recovery from research grants, investment income and unrestricted gifts.

The University at Buffalo remains committed to conducting research and providing opportunities for public debate on subjects of vital importance, including questions related to shale gas, other alternative energy sources and the environment.

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