The chancellor of the state university system has asked the University at Buffalo to “counter” the arguments critics have brought against a study on the effectiveness of hydrofracking regulation, she said in a radio interview this morning.
“I think I’ve asked — and they are responding — the university to counter these arguments. That’s appropriate,” Zimpher told host Susan Arbetter. “I think we need to wait to see what they’re going to say about the various criticisms. I think that the University at Buffalo has a very high standard for the review of their research.”
She continued: “I’m very confident that they will step up and respond to implications about how the study was done, knowing, as you said, this is a controversial issue and people do attack process.”
The University at Buffalo’s newly launched Shale Resources and Society Institute issued its first report late last month, analyzing violation records in Pennsylvania and concluding the state’s regulations have showed improvement in maintaining the safety of hydrofracking and natural-gas drilling operations.
But the report was quickly criticized for using researchers who had produced previous industry-funded reports that painted a rosy picture of hydrofracking — a process used with gas drilling that involves the use of a water/sand/chemical mix injected into underground shale formations.
Less than a week after it was released, the university backtracked from a previous claim that the study was “peer reviewed” after faculty raised concerns about the review process. Soon after that, the Public Accountability Initiative took aim at the report’s conclusions.
And around 6:30 p.m. last Friday, the university issued a statement that simultaneously distanced itself from the report while defending the authors’ right to publish it.
Zimpher said SUNY “should be researching controversial issues.”
“It is part of a very fractious debate on hydrofracking, might I say. This is a very hotly contested issue,” she said. “It’s emotional. It’s personal for a lot of people. I think we’re going to learn more about how people react to these types of issues.”
High-volume hydrofracking, meanwhile, remains on hold in New York as the state Department of Environmental Conservation completes an environmental and regulatory review of the process.