“Informational” Shale Meeting Provides Few Facts, Many Fallacies
This week, Energy in Depth – Ohio attended the “Public Informational Forum on Statewide Fossil Fuel Fracking” in Erie, Ohio. What was disguised as an educational, “informational” forum was, unfortunately more of the same misleading rhetoric we’ve come to expect from the organization providing the speaker in NEOGAP.
If you are not familiar (they’ve appeared in a number of previous posts here on eidohio.org), NEOGAP (Network for Oil and Gas Accountability and Protection), is an activist group in the mold of 350.org, and comprised of a small minority of individuals who oppose the safe, responsible development of oil and gas at every turn.
Much like 350.org, the group uses scare tactics by presenting misinformation regarding the practices and processes involved in oil and gas development in an attempt to rally more people to their “cause”.
In presenting themselves as “experts”, NEOGAP, and groups like it, hold events masked as objective, informational, or educational forums with ambiguous titles not unlike this one.
With the increase in interest in the development of the Utica Shale, some citizens attend these events expecting to learn factual information about the oil and gas industry, it’s practices and the benefits the industry is bringing to areas of development. Unfortunately, that is not what is presented at these meetings as attendees are subjected to misleading statements, propaganda, myths, and downright lies.
This event was no different.
Luckily, EID-Ohio was there, and has the platform to set the record straight.
CLAIM: “Hydraulic fracturing as it’s practiced today will contaminate our aquifers…and that’s a factual statement, not an opinion” (:02)
FACT: This has been disproven by academic institutions, numerous state regulators, and current EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has repeatedly called this statement out for what it is – a lie. Just last April she stated “in no case have we made a definitive determination that the [fracturing] process has caused chemicals to enter groundwater.”
The practice of the hydraulic fracturing, used as a completion and enhancement technique, has been utilized in over 1.2 million oil and natural gas wells in the U.S., and over 80,000 wells here in Ohio. It is worth repeating – never, in the six-decades long practice of hydraulic fracturing, has there been any case of water contamination linked to the process.
CLAIM: “You’ll hear thousands of jobs are going to be created in the state and in the area. The fact of the matter is, the predominance of the jobs are moving station to station, typically that have already trained and have worked, whether it’s Texas or West Virginia.” (:01)
FACT: Another myth put out by those organizations looking to deprive Ohioan’s of the greatest economic opportunity since the automobile, and we don’t have to look far to find examples of this. Development of the Marcellus Shale formation has been ongoing for several years. The Marcellus Shale Coalition reports that more than 70% of Marcellus-related jobs have been filled by Pennsylvanians, not residents of Texas or Oklahoma as most assume. That’s 7 out of 10 jobs filled locally. To go one step further, Ohio (even at this early stage) has already seen new companies popping up or expanding to meet the demands of the growing industry.
The opportunities for Ohioans are out there, and the numerous job fairs taking place across the state reaffirm the incredible potential this has for the Ohio workforce.
Another fact worth mentioning – one often lost in these activist presentations – is that Ohio is still at the very early stages of shale development. And, as we are in this “leasing and exploration” phase, organizations like have been working hand-in-hand with the industry and Ohio’s colleges, universities, and tech schools to ensure (that by the time development is underway around 2015) Ohioan’s are trained and have the necessary skills to take advantage of the 200,000 plus jobs created and supported by the industry.
We are already seeing these programs come online in schools like Zane State, Eastern Gateway Community College, Youngstown State University, Belmont College and The Ohio State University.
CLAIM: “Some communities are now doing their own health assessments afterwards, focusing in on the elevated health problems people are experiencing in the neighborhoods where drilling is taking place… environmental investigations have taken place in Garfield County, Colorado”. (:01)
FACT: The speaker claims there were elevated health problems related to emissions in Garfield County, CO, referencing a study that has been debunked so thoroughly, that even it’s lead researcher, Dr. Lisa McKenzie, conceded to its flaws. One of the major flaws in in the study she conceded to was the fact the data collected came from close proximity to Interstate 70, a significant source of emissions, and that there is no background data to compare emission levels before and after development. Energy in Depth – Ohio’s Shawn Bennett discusses the shortcomings and flaws in the study in depth in his post here.
It is important that, as these statewide forums occur, citizens make an effort to do their own research and find out the facts for themselves. It is also imperative that, as Ohioans go out to seek information on websites and at forums and events like this one, they are aware of who is organizing them and what their agenda is. Clearly, in the case of NEOGAP, not everyone is motivated to tell factual, accurate information.