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Is the latest wave of greenwashing Big Oil & Gas putting academics on payroll? It sure seems that way. A new Checks and Balances Project blog today highlights how a Colorado professor, who has been quite active in promoting oil shale (the rock that burns), has his research facility funded by major oil companies. Last week an article in the Guardian explored the same trend with universities and Big Gas.

Dr. Jeremy Boak, Director of the Center for Oil Shale Technology and Research (COSTAR) has been working hard this past year, trying to downplay fears about oil shale’s impact on western water supplies. And, while Dr. Boak has plenty to say, he fails to mention that the companies experimenting with oil shale fund his program.

COSTAR is a resaerch center at Colorado School of Mines, which was started in 2008 with funding from three oil companies– ExxonMobil, Shell and Total Exploration and Production.

According to a Colorado School of Mines press release, COSTAR is a $900,000 per year research center.  COSTAR’s website lists corporate money first among its funding sources. So, we think Dr. Boak has a pretty strong incentive to see oil shale speculation and experimentation continue.

Read more here.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Not surprised (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    School of Mines has also done research into better techniques for fracking.

    Economics is a social *science*. Can we base future economic decisions on math?

    by blue aardvark on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 01:26:20 PM PST

  •  Are you confused about how academia works? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Andrew F Cockburn, PrahaPartizan

    There's nothing unusual or inappropriate about this relationship.

    Most engineering departments do a great deal of research work and partnerships with their industry counterparts.  Here's an example in Aerospace Engineering.  Here's Purdue talking about corporate sponsorship and their Engineering departments.

    •  Valid Research Outcome Most Important (0+ / 0-)

      The only important question is does research which runs counter to the industry's preferred position actually get published.  So long as valid, reliable research is being performed, how can anyone argue against it?  Real knowledge benefits everyone in the long run.  Techniques developed in the pursuit of industry funded research could just as well have spin-offs into other areas, like promoting geothermal applications or volcanology.

      "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

      by PrahaPartizan on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 08:11:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I like this better than having federal $$s (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Andrew F Cockburn

    for example for the DOE or NSF - paying for this . . .

    Don't much at all like the focus of the research.

    But since the EPA will not act against fracking I suppose it will continue, and based on this, trained workers and appropriate technologies are needed . . ..

  •  Really you are surprised? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Andrew F Cockburn, PrahaPartizan

    I am not fan of big oil, but this is not shocking nor out of the ordinary. The DoD and the Defense Industry pour millions into Stanford, MIT etc etc. I  am also sure big oil sends a lot of money  to any University that has a world class geology school.

    Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?

    by jsfox on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 01:44:15 PM PST

  •  As a researcher myself, I freely admit that we (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PrahaPartizan, DawnN

    are all whores. It takes money to run a research program, and we take it (almost) anywhere we can get it.

    Federal money to support research has gotten much harder to get (I have heard numbers below 10% success rates on grants in some programs). Industry money is filling some of the void. That isn't necessarily bad- better solar panels, medical devices, and even fracking methods can benefit everyone.

    The problem is when researchers take money to become shills for industry. Tobacco "researchers" are the classical example. Ethical researchers disclose their funding sources and possible conflicts of interest. Then it is up to you to decide whether that is clouding our judgement.

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