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Scientists send letter of disapproval to Dept. of Energy over fracking panel

A group of 28 scientists from 22 universities have sent a letter to Secretary of Energy Steven Chu criticizing his picks for a DOE panel that is studying the safety and promise of hydrofracking, saying that the board is heavily tilted toward gas industry interests.

The letter follows a similar letter sent to Chu on July 13 by 109 community and environmental organizations that also criticized the one-sided composition of the panel. Both letters point out six of the seven members of the Energy Advisory Board Natural Gas Subcommittee have current financial ties to the natural gas industry.

“In our work, we believe in reducing individual biases in evaluating the merits of scientific or technological ideas,” the scientists wrote to Secretary Chu. “The current panel does not meet this standard.”

The chairman of the panel, John Deutch, was paid more than $1.4 million by two leading natural gas companies, Schlumberger Ltd. and Cheniere Energy, from 2006 to 2009 alone. Deutch serves on the board of directors of Cheniere Energy.

The DOE panel is expected to release a draft of its recommendations on hydrofracking sometime today.

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