August 22, 2012

More Texans in the #fracking PR tank, but no salamanders!

Norm Augustine thinks deep
fracking thoughts/Wikipedia
It turns out that not just University of Texas professor Charles Groat is "in the PR tank" on a study that claims fracking is no environmental big deal. So is his overseer.

In case you don't remember, the Energy Commission at UT that used Groat as its principle investigator said that fracking didn't contaminate groundwater. Then, it came out that he had been paid, last year alone, more than $400,000 by Plains Exploration, and that Plains was doing fracking in a site he had touted, too. There were other problems with the study, including claims of peer review that didn't stand up.

The chairman of the board of that commission is in that same tank, too. If you're a well-read progressive, you know that Norm Augustine has "issues," including being a big, big businessman in the defense industry. And ... was on the board of directors at oil biggie ConocoPhillips.

Here's the key points:
ConocoPhillips, whose work includes natural gas and hydraulic fracturing, donated $1.5 million to the Energy Institute in 2010. The company’s own fracking website cites the 2012 University of Texas study to stave off claims of environmental problems, as reported by Texas State Impact

While Augustine no longer serves on the board of ConocoPhillips, he continues to be paid by the company. According to a 2009 proxy statement, he elected to defer compensation of roughly $3.1 million in 10 annual installments beginning in July 2009. (More information on page 62 of that proxy statement.)
So, he's got a personal financial stake in a misleading report, too.  And, as "connected" as he is, he wasn't operating in a non-Big Oil vacuum.

Meanwhile, speaking of environmental problems, Texas' highest-ranking political numbnut, Sen. John Cornyn, is leading the opposition to more environmental protection for four salamander species north of Austin.
"Instead of hastily proposing these listings based on limited data, the administration should allow conservation efforts underway to continue without hindering Central Texas from creating jobs," Cornyn said Tuesday in a statement. "We'll press forward with our efforts to block this foolish plan." 
"Limited data" means "any amount of data that doesn't agree with modern Republican anti-environmentalism." (Trust me, or else go to Google Translator and try for yourself!)

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