BUFFALO, NY (WBEN) -- After some bruising press coverage that questioned their academic independence, the University at Buffalo has shut down its controversial Shale Resources and Society Institute, effective immediately.
UB President Satish K. Tripathi announced the decision in a letter to the campus community, saying in part, "Research of such considerable societal importance and impact cannot be effectively conducted with a cloud of uncertainty over its work."
In May, the Institute issued a report that critics blasted as slanted in favor of the natural gas industry, since it appeared to minimize the environmental effects of hydraulic fracking, a process that maximizes natural gas production by injecting a water-and-sand mix into underground pockets of gas. (The report and the institute's website have been deleted -- so the link in this story is to one of the remaining copies on-line.)
The report was criticized for failing to note that lead author Tim Considine, an economics professor at the University of Wyoming, had previously worked for industry groups such as the American Petroleum Institute.
The school says the decision follows an internal assessment of the institute by Tripathi, Provost Charles Zukoski and E. Bruce Pitman, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Tripathi's statement defends the school's direction in the general area of the subject matter, and opens the door for a future project in the same vein:
"To leverage our university's considerable faculty expertise in the area of energy and the environment and to address these issues with appropriate breadth and complexity, UB will establish a comprehensive program of scholarship and education that addresses issues in this broadly defined area of research."