The conflict-of-interest policy of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (www.nationalacademies.org/coi) prohibits the appointment of an individual to a committee like the one that authored this Consensus Study Report if the individual has a conflict of interest that is relevant to the task to be performed. An exception to this prohibition is permitted only if the National Academies determine that the conflict is unavoidable and the conflict is promptly and publicly disclosed.
When the committee that authored this Consensus Study Report was established a determination of whether there was a conflict of interest was made for each committee member given the individual’s circumstances and the task being undertaken by the committee. A determination that an individual has a conflict of interest is not an assessment of that individual’s actual behavior or character or ability to act objectively despite the conflicting interest.
Dr. Thomas S. Coolbaugh was determined to have a conflict of interest because he is employed by ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company, whose financial interests could be affected by the outcome of the study.
The National Academies determined that the experience and expertise of the individual was needed for the committee to accomplish the task for which it was established. The National Academies could not find another available individual with the equivalent experience and expertise who did not have a conflict of interest. Therefore, the National Academies concluded that the conflict was unavoidable and publicly disclosed it through the National Academies Current Projects System (https://nationalacademies.org/pa).
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