Reid Porter, a spokesman for the American Petroleum Institute, the leading industry lobbying group, said he wasn't aware of any API donations to public health research.
Goldstein, who has more than 40 years' experience working in public health, predicted that ignoring health concerns could ultimately be used by trial lawyers seeking big payments from a deep-pocketed industry.
"If somebody in your community tells you that they're sure that they're sick, that their kids are sick, and at the same time the industry is saying, 'It ain't us,' who are you going to believe?" Goldstein said.
Energy companies can look at to at least one successful model for industry-supported research.
The Health Effects Institute, founded in 1980, is a Boston-based partnership between the EPA and the auto industry. Each contributes half of the yearly $10 million budget, said director Dan Greenbaum, but the industry has no say on what research projects get chosen.
The research done by Health Effects has "been instrumental in our learning about exhaust emissions and possible health effects" and supported technology that has led to reductions in vehicle and engine pollution, said John Wall, chief technical officer for Cummins Inc., an Indiana engine manufacturer.
Health Effects is "exploring the possibility" of helping shale gas drilling research, but ultimately that would require contributions from the gas drilling industry, Greenbaum said.
Some industry groups say they're ready to consider new approaches. Patrick Creighton, a spokesman for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, said it has partnered with a number of institutions to advance original research. He didn't provide details.
Some recent research, though, has been tainted by industry money.
The University of Texas at Austin recently said it would create a group of outside experts to review the school's Energy Institute, which issued a report on environmental effects from gas this year without disclosing that the lead researcher was also being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by an energy company.
In May, a report from New York's University at Buffalo generated similar controversy because of the researcher's ties to the gas industry.
The oil and gas companies and researchers who don't disclose their industry ties "just don't get" that a loss of credibility can cost more in lawsuits than funding tough, nonpartisan research, Goldstein said.
"Human nature," he said, "will not trust industry."
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