A recent University of Texas study, which claims to prove that the natural gas extraction process known as fracking does not cause environmental damage or water contamination, was led by a gas industry insider who currently holds up to $1.6 million in stock at a large fracking company. The information was revealed in a new exposé released by the Public Accountability Initiative (PAI).This offers yet another example of WHY it is important to do one's due diligence in ascertaining who is offering information. Too often, particularly of "news" in the public space, people just assume that the "expert" is offering an objective opinion. People don't seem to realize that every person has a perspective and biases. Knowing these (as well as who might be funding the "opinion") helps us to size up the information presented.
The 400-page pro-fracking review in question was led by author Charles Groat of the University of Texas. Neither Groat nor the University openly reported that Groat himself is on the board of a fracking company, Plains Exploration and Production Company.
As a board member, Groat receives 10,000 shares of restricted stock a year. His holdings as of July 19th were worth $1.6 million. He also receives an annual fee, which was $58,500 in 2011, according to filings.
Groat did not reveal his position with the company when the report was released and told reporters that the university had turned down all industry funds for the study.
~ from Contaminated Inquiry: Prof with Money Ties to Industry Led Fracking Study via Common Dreams ~
One of the first things I try to do when reading an opinion from someone I am unfamiliar with is to try to determine exactly who they are, what they do and if their "objective opinion" involves any degree of self-interest. Of course, discerning this information often is not easy as many people try to hide it...for reasons that become quite obvious when (or if) the info is uncovered.
Once I have uncovered as much of this info as possible, it affords me more tools by which to decide if I might agree or disagree with their conclusions.