Penn State Admits Gas Study Flaws

WILLIAMSPORT -- In a response sent by Penn State Dean William Easterling to the Responsible Drilling Alliance (RDA), a non-profit organization based in Williamsport, the University admits that the original version of a natural gas industry study was flawed.

In the Penn State letter, Easterling states that in that initial version, “we found flaws in the way the report was written and presented to the public.” Easterling replies that the first report did not identify the sponsor of the research and he suggests, “…the authors may well have crossed the line between policy analysis and policy advocacy.”

Earlier this month, in a letter initiating correspondence between the two parties, RDA called on the university to disavow publicly papers conducted by Penn State researchers and funded by the Marcellus Shale Committee, a coalition of gas industry representatives. 

RDA claims that the papers use the university’s reputation to portray the coalition’s greatly exaggerated claims of economic impact as legitimate research.  In a continuation of this correspondence, RDA has released a follow-up letter to Penn State emphasizing the extent to which the industry group has touted the publication as “the Penn State report,” and used its widely contested findings to influence public opinion and political debate in favor of gas drilling in Pennsylvania. Once again, RDA asks the university to repudiate the methods the industry report represents and publicly disavow its findings.   

Note: The initial correspondence prompted an Associated Press article, "PSU Drilling Study Questioned Over Industry Tie"  Associated Press, Genaro C. Armas, June 14th, 2010. Since then, the words "Penn State Report" have suddenly disappeared from industry internet sites but the various versions of the reports are still offered carrying the Penn State shield logo on their cover.  

  • PSU's original study on Marcellus Shale
  • Letter to President Spanier       
  • Dean Easterling's reply    
  • RDA's response

To read these lettters, please download the attached PDFs below:

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