In the case of the University of Cincinnati, a lot of their funding comes from groups which have a vested interest in proving how harmful fracking is so it’s hardly a surprise that they lost interest in the study when it failed to produce any evidence of ground water contamination near commercial fracking sites.In the two environmental research institutions I have worked for, the standard contract for a study funded from private sources always called for the investigators to retain the right to publish the results of a study. That, after all is the point of a research institution, to develop knowledge for all of mankind. To be sure, some of the stickier clients tried to make sure they had some right to review it before hand.
Jeff Stier, senior fellow and head of the Risk Analysis Division at the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington provides a detailed report at Newsweek.
Geologists at the University of Cincinnati just wrapped up a three-year investigation of hydraulic fracturing and its impact on local water supplies.The funding groups were a little disappointed in the results. How terrible for them. We do so hate to see anyone go away disappointed. But to have this research basically squashed with no public release after three years of investigative work is unforgivable. I wonder if it also added to their disappointment to discover that the oil and gas industry was providing more than 2 million jobs in the United States and is projected to increase that number to 5 million by 2025.
The result? There’s no evidence—zero, zilch, nada—that fracking contaminates drinking water. Researchers hoped to keep these findings secret.
Why would a public research university boasting a top-100 geology program deliberately hide its work? Because, as lead researcher Amy Townsend-Small explained, “our funders, the groups that had given us funding in the past, were a little disappointed in our results. They feel that fracking is scary and so they were hoping our data could point to a reason to ban it.”
So go forth, comforted in the knowledge that the anti-fracking forces are as sincere about hiding unfavorable data as they accuse the energy and oil companies, and global warming skeptics of being.