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Meet the UB Shale Institute Advisory Board

In the midst of the fallout from the release of its first comically flawed report in May, the UB Shale Resources and Society Institute (SRSI) took some time in June and July to name an advisory board for the institute. Although such a board was part of the original plan for SRSI, you know, you can’t rush excellence when you’re a major research university.

And what an excellent advisory board it is. Five of the eight members are UB professors, none of whom were among the 84 UB faculty and staff who signed a petition last month calling for transparency from SRSI. The other three—Bruce Appelbaum, James Ellis, and Michael Joy—are alumni and gas industry insiders. There are no environmental, community, governmental or public health representatives.

Appelbaum’s Mosaic Resources provides “Trusted Oil & Gas Technical Analysis for the Investor & Financial Industry.” He is also a director at CQS Rig Finance Fund, “a closed-ended investment company registered and incorporated in Guernsey.” Guernsey is a small island in the English Channel. Neither fish nor fowl, it is not part of the UK, nor is it part of the European Union. It’s a popular offshore finance center for private equity funds. If you try to learn more about CQS from its website, you’ll find that Americans can’t access the information “due to applicable securities laws in your country of residence.”

Ellis’s company, Ellis GeoSpatial, lists Houston’s GSI Environmental as a customer. GSI holds the distinction of producing a report co-authored by Cabot Oil and Gas that sought to combat the conclusions of an earlier report from Duke University. The Duke report found that water wells in northeastern Pennsylvania had been damaged as a result of drilling for natural gas. The GSI/Cabot report has since been shown to be flawed and biased.

Joy—a UB Law grad with a PhD in geology—moved to Pittsburgh to become a partner at Reed Smith LLP. Specializing in environmental law and real property law, “he is a strong advocate of natural gas development and has participated in hundreds of presentations, educational town halls, legislative hearings and been involved in lobbying activity on the natural gas opportunities associated with the Marcellus and Utica shale formations.”

So far, the advisory board has held just two meetings, both in the last few weeks and neither open to the public. Meanwhile, the SUNY Trustees have resolved to take a hard look at SRSI, in the interest of saving the reputation of UB and the State University of New York. They have requested an expeditious response to their concerns. Up to this point, UB officials have defended the incorrect math used in SRSI’s first report—calling it “academic freedom.”

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