Anti-Drilling Groups Pressure Penn State

Opponents of natural gas drilling are attacking the integrity of a Penn State study on the economic effects the Marcellus Shale development, which was funded by the industry. Complaints center around the failure of the original version to disclose the funding source and that the school’s shield appeared on every page, associating the prestige of the university with the claims made in the report.

From these public relations gaffes, anti-drilling activists like Responsible Drilling Alliance jump to the conclusion that the methodology is flawed and that Penn State should completely denounce the research.

Forget that an updated version released in May clarified the affiliation and that the shield only appeared on the title page. Or that the methodology was defended by researchers and the university as fairly common. And ignore that Timothy Considine, a co-author of the report, now at University of Wyoming, stood by the research and projections.

(The Marcellus Shale Coalition) came to us … and asked us what the economic impacts were, he said. They had no idea. So our analysis in no way could be swayed by the natural gas industry because they have no idea about the economic impact.

Opponents can ignore this reality because they have once again bullied others into creating a perception that they are correct. The article plays right into their hands by glossing over official statements and focusing on speculation by PSU Dean William Easterling. Indeed, the Penn State study attempts to measure “indirect jobs” created by gas drilling – i.e., increased business in areas of drilling growth. This of course will be far greater than the number of actual drilling jobs created, but anti-drilling advocates and the article itself seem to imply that the study is wrong, by comparing the “indirect jobs” to jobs in the industry. This, of course, overlooks the reality of job growth in restaurants, retail, and local businesses near drilling areas, as predicted in the study.

Though Penn State has said it will abide by its policy and not take a position on the research, PSU Dean William Easterling discussed flaws in the way the report was presented. He suggested:

The authors may well have crossed the line between policy analysis and policy advocacy.

Really? And the Michael Mann fiasco had nothing to do with policy advocacy? Penn State is now worried about being biased in the policy debate?

This is just another effort by environmental groups (should we call them “economic growth deniers”) attacking and attempting to silence any research that undermines their worldview. Perhaps the RDA should be the ones called on apologize for slandering prominent academics.