About that Rally Tally

Blame it on the heat. Or the start of the Olympics. Or the ill-timed Associated Press investigation revealing how top anti-gas activists routinely distort and misrepresent science. Or even EPA’s decision to announce earlier that same week that Dimock’s water was, is and has always been safe to drink – demoralizing those who had dined-out on that talking point for years.

Whatever the reasons, Saturday’s anti-shale rally in Washington didn’t quite generate the volume of attendance and attention its organizers thought it would, and as a result, didn’t collect as many mentions in the press as they hoped it might. But neither heat nor hypocrisy kept EID away from the day’s proceedings – even as we struggled to understand why folks from areas where no shale development is taking place (New York) would travel to another city where no oil and gas development is taking place (Washington), to lobby for legislation that even the event’s organizers admit is going nowhere.

But hey, to be fair: some folks actually did show up to this thing, as the picture below makes clear. Writing in the Huffington Post today, a woman named Stefanie Penn Spear with a group called EcoWatch says the turnout exceeded 5,000 people. The police officers I spoke to on site Saturday put the number closer to 1,500, and pictures like the one below suggest it could have even been even smaller than that:

Does this look like 5,000 people to you? Apparently, to the Huffington Post, it does.


Phony attendance numbers aside, the other aspect of the day’s proceedings that could have definitely benefited from some independent verification was the speaker presentations themselves.

For starters, they all basically read off the same script, with two or three sentences reserved for a personal intro, followed by a five-minute recitation of talking points that must have been scribbled in long before last week’s Associated Press article ran. How else to explain that at least half of the speakers at the podium cited that same discredited talking point about cancer rates in Texas that the folks over at the Susan G. Komen Foundation debunked? These activists may be good at generating press, but from what I saw, it doesn’t appear that they’re any good at reading it.

Of course, given the background of those presenting, it wasn’t surprising that every single speaker failed to mention that hydraulic fracturing has been used since the 1940s, or that even the Environmental Protection Agency has, on at least a dozen occasions, confirmed that fracturing technology is safe and not responsible for any adverse impacts to groundwater. The presenters also failed to mention that regulators in over 15 U.S. States as well as the Groundwater Protection Council have all come to the same conclusion.

While facts and science were in short supply, hyperbole, sensationalism and — give the devil its due — creativity certainly were not. The first speaker provided a bit of a treat for the audience with her rendition of this “little light of mine.”

This was followed by a sermon, of sorts, about hydraulic fracturing. Though it’s not entirely clear to us which church this fellow belongs to:

But actually, what was even more interesting than the performances on stage were the opinions of some attendees who seem to think that everyone who doesn’t share their worldview is conspiring against them.

One such attendee – Ray Kimble – is a water hauler from Dimock, Pa., who just happens to be engaged in a lawsuit against a natural gas producer in that region.  As mentioned earlier, the EPA recently joined the Pennsylvania DEP in declaring Dimock’s water is safe – once and for all. Like so many others in the audience, this attendee appears to refuse all objective assessments provided on the safety of hydraulic fracturing including those from the state and federal regulators who indicated after an extensive four year review that oil and natural gas development had no impacts on his water supply.

Climate change was another big theme at the event, with most speakers doing their best to ignore or minimize the fact that, thanks to natural gas, the United States is now leading the world – yes, leading it – in the annual percentage decrease in carbon dioxide. For this speaker below, that progress was not enough. For her, no energy is good energy unless it is delivered to us … from heaven:

With energy from heaven still eluding scientists, these activists relied on petroleum fueled vehicles to get them to and from Washington, D.C.


Bus For Progress

So, in the end, what was accomplished?   Boil it all down, and what you have is a smaller-than-advertised turnout for a rally against a technology that’s been in use since the Truman administration; led by people where no shale development exists; doing their best to deny the jobs, revenue and opportunity that shale development makes possible to people they’ve never met; all while ignoring the obvious environmental and security benefits that natural gas continues to bring online.

So, in other words: nothing much at all.

  • JP Collins
    Posted at 10:52h, 31 July Reply

    What does this lady actually think lights her “this little light of mine”? My bet is No. 2 fuel oil.

  • afs
    Posted at 11:16h, 31 July Reply

    “against a technology that’s been in use since the Truman administration”
    Mr. Krohn might have been affected by the heat himself. Or the Olympics excitement, perhaps, distracted him from performing his due diligence in research reporting. The mechanisms employed by today’s hydraulic fracking processes have NOT been employed since Truman’s administration. Modern fracking techniques were pioneered in 1997 – not 1947. 50 is a LARGE number in technology years.

  • Wesley L. McCann
    Posted at 11:38h, 31 July Reply

    Why are the comments of the people who were actually in DC being deleted?

    It casts your article, and your credibility in doubt. TO those of us who care about objectivity, and who would like to believe there is no issue at all here, it’s fuel for the opponents of fracking.

  • Lesley Adams
    Posted at 13:48h, 31 July Reply

    You seem to have your “facts” wrong.

    But what I am interested in is where does your energy (emotional, that is)come from? If the gas industry is clean and safe, then why fight against transparency laws? Why elude clean air and clean water regulations? Why resist safety measures? Why get so excited?

    If fracking is really clean and safe, why not just submit the information and go along with regulations everyone else has to follow? It’s like Romney refusing to share his tax information. What’s there to hide?

  • Dan Sloan
    Posted at 15:55h, 31 July Reply

    Again, this deliberate lack of knowledge about the oil and gas industry is allowed to shape the discussion of America’s energy future. The industry is not against regulations, just redundant, punitive and needlessly expensive ones. There are volumes of regulations covering every aspect of how the industry does its business, but the opposition never bothers to look them up. No, it’s easier to play to the crowd, crying wolf about perceptions of an industry run amok than to discuss the facts, isn’t it? You know, if you want to discuss how a rule covering something specific could be tightened up, fine, let’s talk. But this pandering, provincial tone that looks to gin up support for some non-existent problem simply to serve an agenda that most Americans simply do not support, is easily the most disingenuous nonsense in the history of ever.

  • Dave
    Posted at 08:56h, 01 August Reply

    The oil and gas industry follows their state by state regulations. Always have and still do. To say that the industry is against safety is disingenious.If you have facts supporting your claim post them. If not, dont produce false accusations.

  • Energy In Depth » Blog Archive Gasland Star Sees His Shadow in Michigan; Good News for Shale?
    Posted at 11:20h, 09 August Reply

    […] as he makes one unsubstantiated assertion after another: claiming 5,000 people came out to a Washington rally when the actual numbers were about 20 percent of that; (3:12), quoting Martin Luther King and Teddy Roosevelt; and otherwise presenting himself as some […]

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