COAL: TransAlta paid researcher to protect industry.....

COAL: TransAlta paid researcher to protect industry.....

Postby Oscar » Tue Jul 24, 2018 8:44 pm

How TransAlta used a university-sanctioned research project to lobby for the coal industry

[ ... ld-morning ]

Emails obtained by CBC News show researcher worked with TransAlta to develop presentation, talking points

Raffy Boudjikanian · CBC News · Posted: Jul 24, 2018 2:00 AM MT | Last Updated: 5 hours ago

Energy giant TransAlta paid the University of Alberta $54,000 to hand-pick one of its researchers to produce a study and other materials it used to lobby the provincial government to try to protect the coal industry, documents obtained by CBC News reveal.

The deal was struck in 2015, after Rachel Notley's NDP came to power with a plan to phase out coal power across the province.

The documents, obtained under Access to Information, include emails between TransAlta officials and air quality specialist Warren Kindzierski, along with a copy of the contract signed by the company and Kindzierski's employer, the University of Alberta.

The materials show that not only did Kindzierski produce a report that found coal-fire power plants contribute small amounts of some pollutants, he also worked with TransAlta officials to produce lobbying materials, including a presentation and talking points.

The university stands by the research, and Notley's government continues its coal phase-out, which includes TransAlta's operations. But several academics who spoke with CBC News say the case shows why the role of private dollars to fund research at public universities deserves renewed scrutiny.

"We have to be cautious, especially when the private sector is paying for these grants," said Jeremy Snyder, an associate professor of health science at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C.

•Read the research grant agreement between TransAlta and the University of Alberta
[ ... U-of-A.pdf ]

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