Complaint filed by the Responsible Drilling Alliance
The Responsible Drilling Alliance, a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organization in Williamsport, PA, has filed a complaint against Penn State University. They are asking the Middle States Commission on Higher Education to consider this complaint in the context of the accreditation review of Penn State currently underway. Like the issue that caused Middle States to begin its investigation into the universityʼs governance, this complaint also centers on the abuse of public trust by the university.
Penn State published three papers advocating for the shale gas industry which appeared to be independent research papers.
These papers contained greatly exaggerated projections of jobs, economic development, and tax revenues.
Coming from a highly regarded public research institution, the papers profoundly influenced the legislative debate in PA on taxes and regulation in favor of the gas industry. They became the rational for policy decisions by the former and current state administrations.
The three Penn State papers are consistent with similar works in other regions that the shale gas industry has commissioned and uses as a strategy to gain concessions.
The two lead authors have produced a series of similar papers, using their position in higher education, to advocate for narrow interest of the fossil fuel industry.
Penn State never distanced itself from the original paper and allowed its research reputation to be associated with the two subsequent releases after it became known that the authors and their work directly served the interest of the shale gas industry.
RDA is charging that Penn Stateʼs actions were unethical and constitute an abuse of the publicʼs trust.