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Fracking Pros and Cons: Oil Tycoon Harold Hamm Wants University Scientists Studying Dangers of Fracking Fired

First Posted: May 18, 2015 04:18 PM EDT
Harold Hamm

Photo : Jemal Countess/Getty Images

The dangers of fracking and its possible harm to the environment are currently being studied and, last year, the Oklahoma Geological Survey team had some reports that were particularly troublesome to big oil executives who use the method to inflate their pockets.

According to Bloomberg, one of those billionaire oil tycoons, Harold Hamm, told the dean of the University of Oklahoma's Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy, Larry Grillot, that he wanted those scientists fired, or dismissed from the OGS.

Hamm, who is the CEO of Continental Resources based in Oklahoma City, has quite some weight to throw around at the university, considering he is one the school's biggest donors.

To be more specific, the reports were linking the oil and gas activity to the 400-fold increase in earthquakes. The study could eventually lead to state or even federal-level action that could eventually ban the use of said activities for obtaining oil.

When the reports came out, apparently Hamm approached the dean and demanded the scientists be dismissed from the project, according to a recount the dean detailed in an e-mail that was recently made public.

"Mr. Hamm is very upset at some of the earthquake reporting to the point that he would like to see select OGS staff dismissed," Grillot wrote in the e-mail. He also noted that Hamm would be "visiting with Governor [Mary] Fallin on the topic of moving the OGS out of the University of Oklahoma."

When Bloomberg reached out to Governor Fallin's office for comment on the matter, a spokesperson, Alex Weintz, did not respond as to whether Hamm requested the Governor move the OGS out of the University. But he did e-mail a statement.

"The governor does not have the authority to decouple OU and OGS, nor has she proposed doing so," the statement said. 

To further make the situation even more egregious, Hamm also sent the dean e-mails requesting to be part of the search committee to find a Director for OGS.

Grillot also told Bloomberg that Hamm was not added to the search committee for the OGS Director position.

Business Insider also reports that University did not cave in to Hamm's pressures to fire the scientists on the OGS team.

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