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SUNY Fredonia Shale Institute of Family Affair?

The enigmatic SUNY Fredonia Shale Resources Institute pulled its website down last month after being exposed as a receptacle for gas industry money filtered through the secretive Fredonia College Foundation of the State University of New York, Inc. (You can see a screen shot of what used to be on AV Daily.)

Now it appears the institute’s leadership is, or was, very tight, indeed. As in, man and wife.

According to a September 2011 story from the Explorer, a publication of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), the institute’s director is Gary Lash. The assistant director is his wife, Eileen Lash. (They wrote a story together for the same publication.) It’s unclear what credentials Eileen has to serve as assistant director of a SUNY shale institute. As recently as 2007, it appears she was serving as the executive director of Fredonia Place, a senior-living facility. However, when we called Fredonia Place, the receptionist had never heard of her. She’s also a member of, a site that reports on and promotes natural gas drilling in the Marcellus and Utica Shales.

Calls placed to SUNY Fredonia spokesperson Michael Barone seeking comment have not been returned. Another SUNY Fredonia spokesperson, Lisa Eikenburg, referred us back to Barone, then hung up the phone. (Barone ended the conversation the same way the last time he accepted a call from Artvoice—but not before confirming that the Fredonia College Foundation of the State University of New York, Inc. is not subject to the Freedom of Information Law.)

No option to FOIL, and apparently the paid spokespeople for the college aren’t required to speak on behalf of the college to the press. So there you have it.

A bill currently passing through the state legislature, S5797, would allow some measure of accountability, rendering campus foundations subject to sunlight.

In other SUNY shale institute news, Robert Jacobi, co-director of the Shale Resources and Society Institute at the University at Buffalo, senior geology advisor at EQT, and consultant, will be teaching a field seminar June 18-22 in Watkins Glen. The event is billed as a joint seminar between the AAPG and the University at Buffalo. Early sign-up would have run you $1,950, but now the five-day course will run you $2,050.

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