NPR Goes to Bat for Its Natural Gas Corporate Sponsor
Last week, Tom Gjelten and Peter Overby brought NPR Morning Edition listeners a three part commercial from their sponsor ANGA. It's worthwhile to take a look at the comments beneath each story's web link (Part I, Part II, and Part III) and click on "Most Recommended." Let's just say shale ain't the only thing getting drilled... For example, part II of the series had Gjelten claiming that most of the drilling and fracking is done by "mom and pop" operations. An NPR listener wrote
"Another poorly researched piece. The main companies working the Marcellus Shale in NE Pennsylvania include: Chesapeake (7,600 employees), Hess (13,500 employees), and of course Schlumberger (87,000 employees). Fortuna Energy is a subsidiary of Talisman (2,388 employees). These companies have global reach and oil as well as natural gas interests. Cabot (notorious for environmental violations and fracturing fluid chemical spills around Dimock, PA) has 560 employees - again, no 'mom and pop' operation."
On the infomercial sidebars that accompany the NPR stories you can see the following:
The perversely named American Clean Skies Foundation is a front organization for the same mom and pop Chesapeake Energy corporation mentioned by the listener [if in doubt, click on the "About US" tab on the "Clean Skies" page, and look at the chairman, Aubrey McClendon of Chesapeake Energy Corporation!] Oh, and that friendly sounding, Ground Water Council, is the organization of STATE ground water regulators, which are the very organizations that gas drillers want to deal with to get around federal environmental rules!
This gas series began without any critical reservations whatsoever, touting the shale gas reserves as a nearly limitless supply of clean energy, where the only concern is the economic feasibility of fracking it out of the shale rock. Given the firestorm of criticism evidenced in the comments section under each of the stories, NPR obviously tried to run some hasty last minute, "balancing" operations. They expanded the "series" page to include a May 27th piece more critical of fracking and tacked on a web article also. The final report of the series offers this sad little gassy seep of concern:
"Well, remember, Steve, from one our earlier pieces, to get gas out of shale rock you've got to fracture the rock. They do this by blasting water into it. The concern is that that might cause some contamination of drinking water supplies. There are chemicals that are used in that water."
Would have been nice to include some of those concerned stakeholders in this series, like real journalists do. Apparently that would have ruined the three-day, 20-plus minutes of drill baby drill hype that NPR wanted to frack us with.