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Review Finds Conflict of Interest in Fracking Study (Update)

University of Texas Energy Institute

Update and correction: In a press release, UT announced that ​Dr. Raymond Orbach had “resigned.” It did not say, however, that Orbach will be staying at UT as a tenured professor. Orbach has only resigned as head of the Energy Institute, effective Dec. 31. This post has since been corrected. 

Original post: One University of Texas professor has retired and another has stepped down from a leadership role after a review found a conflict of interest in a controversial report on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

As KUT News previously reported, the report from the UT Energy Institute, “Separating Fact From Fiction in Shale Gas Development,” stated that fracking, when executed properly, doesn’t contaminate groundwater. But StateImpact Texas reported that the study's leader failed to disclose financial ties to the drilling industry, including a seat on the board of a drilling company.  

Today, StateImpact Texas reports that Dr. Charles "Chip" Groat has retired, and Dr. Raymond Orbach has resigned from the energy institute. 

The departures were announced as an independent review of the report was released which blasted the Energy Institute’s work:

“The review finds no ‘intentional misrepresentation’ by Groat, and even believes that, at the time, he was likely not violating established conflict of interest policies at the University. But his failure to disclose constitutes ‘very poor judgement,’ the review says, and harmed the credibility of the report.”

You can read more from StateImpact Texas.

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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