UB & The Buffalo News—Bamboozled by Natural Gas Industry
by Buck Quigley - posted 5:49 pm, July 20, 2012
Sharon Wilson once dreamed of getting rich like her north Texas neighbors who seemed to be driving out the gate in the morning in a beat up pickup, only to return in “new, fully loaded Dodge diesels wearing new 7x beaver hats.” She began to research the best way to reap the benefits of the mineral rights she owned while also preserving the surface of her Texas land. It became an enlightening journey, to say the very least. Along the way, she became known as a “fracking insurgent”—a label she proudly wears today. Click here to read her story, and take some time to explore her enlightening TXSharon blog.
Last Halloween, as fate would have it, she attended the “Media & Stakeholder Relations Hydraulic Fracturing Initiative 2011” in Houston. Her $1,299 admission to the two-day gas industry event was paid for by EARTHWORKS’ Oil and Gas Accountability Project. The event included senior industry speakers from Chesapeake Energy, Range Resources, EQT Corporation, Cabot Oil & Gas, Encana Oil and Gas, and Norse Energy, among others. Wilson brought her tape recorder along to document the event.
Among the shocking things she took away from the conference was the way the gas industry labels anti-frackers “insurgents” and employs ex-military PSYOPS to do intelligence and work within communities to thwart opposition and further the industry mission. Click here Click the icon above to listen to Matt Carmichael (Manager of External Affairs, Anadarko Petroleum) advising attendees to download the US Army/Marine Corps Counter-Insurgency Manual to be prepared for the fight ahead. He also considers “Rumsfeld Rules” to be his bible. (You can also click here and scroll down to the Carmichael link.)
Another speaker, Dennis Holbrook (Executive Vice President of Regulatory and Public Relations, Norse Energy) was recorded sharing a number of tips on how the gas industry can better manipulate public opinion toward the gas industry cause. Here are some anecdotes he tells those in attendance about New York State, UB, and the Buffalo News:
“We consider New York a pretty significant battle ground so…we aren’t there yet. We have a Governor , I think, that believes this thing should probably move forward. And I’ll just give you a couple more quick observations—I made some notes to myself while these gentlemen were speaking. We talked about “don’t dump the media,” be an information source for them, develop a rapport, keep it simple, don’t let the opponents define the issue, make it your meeting rather than theirs because they keep it far too superficial, seek out academic studies and champion with universities—because that again provides tremendous credibility to the overall process. We tend to be viewed, as I said earlier, very skeptically. We’ve aligned with the University at Buffalo—we’ve done a variety of other activities where we’ve gotten the academics to sponsor programs and bring in people for public sessions to educate them on a variety of different topics. One last thing: The key in all this is to keep it credible. I’m gonna read you a quote to sort of finish up right here so we still have some time for Q&A. This is an editorial that showed up not too long ago. It says, ‘Life is about managing risks, with sensible protections. Hydrofracking includes certain inherent risks, but so does any exploration for oil or gas—which virtually all New Yorkers use. New Yorkers who insist on never taking any risks should not get into a car—though they could get hit by one while walking. Or, just stay in bed all day—risking bed sores.’ I like this quote, obviously. I pulled it out and bring it along with me. I’ve told some media folks: ‘You probably think that’s coming from somebody in the industry.’ What you might find sort of fascinating is to find out that this quote actually comes from the Buffalo News—which is a Warren Buffet owned paper, so it’s not known for being overly conservative. A year ago it endorsed the moratorium on hydrofracking. So this is a major turnaround for this paper. And we spent a good year and longer meeting with editorial boards, providing essays to the paper, and doing whatever we could to educate the reporters on a different perspective than what they’d been led to believe until now. So I view this type of turnaround as a major success story. And these are the type of areas that I think can have a tremendous amount of influence. It doesn’t matter whether they’re gonna throw a well in Buffalo or not. But the spread of that information out there has a tremendous impact on the politicians and the other folks that we ultimately have to bring around to understanding that we can do this safely.”
Good to see that the State University of New York at Buffalo and our daily paper, the Buffalo News, aren’t swayed by the arguments of corporate shills. Here’s one of Holbrook’s slanted essays the News published August 30,2010. Here’s another one of his they published July 20, 2011.
Norse Energy recently pulled offices out of the area and relocated back to Texas. ““What’s bad news for Buffalo is good news for Houston,” Holbrook said. Click here to read about that.