AMHERST, N.Y. — The University at Buffalo has closed its controversial Shale Resources and Society Institute.
The Institute came under fire earlier this year following a report that hydrofracking had become safer due to better oversight and industry practices.
Fracking opponents pointed out the authors' ties to the oil and natural gas industry.
And a volunteer researcher at UB and co-author, John Martin states on his own Linkedin account that he provides public relations services to the energy industry & academic institutions. The problem was those ties to oil and gas were never disclosed by UB, and there was no peer review of the study.
"We don't know the extent to which secret oil company money has funded an institute," said UB professor and chair of UB Clear, Jim Holstun.
"It corrupts the very center of a university," he said. "It corrupts academic integrity. We are all about transparency. We are all about declaring conflicts of interest so that people judging the research can judge for themselves whether the research is legitimate or has been bought and paid for," Holstun said.
Fracking involves drilling for petroleum and natural gas by breaking rocks apart with pressurized fluids which some say are toxic.
"Fracking is also dangerous because in certain parts of the U.S. where fracking has already occurred there have been instances of water contamination where water is so contaminated that actually sets on fire," said Rita Yelda of New Yorkers Against Fracking.
Students and members of New Yorkers Against Fracking also took their concerns to SUNY's Board of Trustees.
UB's president issued a statement Monday, saying the Institute has been closed effective immediately. He says the university will continue to pursue research in the area of energy and the environment, but research will be broader in focus.
New Yorkers Against Fracking issued a statement, applauding the decision.