Experts: Shale Revolution Has Improved U.S. Energy Security and is ‘Shifting the Geopolitical Balance’

Remarkable growth in U.S. oil and natural gas production over the past decade has bolstered domestic energy security and helped to strengthen American influence in the global market, a panel of energy experts testified at a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing this week. Speaking to the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, energy and policy analysts from Rice University, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Brookings Institution and Gas Technology Institute, shared the sentiment that U.S. shale development has had a significant impact not only on the American economy, but U.S. diplomacy as well.

As shale development has become more prevalent over the past decade, through technologies such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, the United States has experienced a profound increase in oil and natural gas output. The United States is currently the world’s largest producer of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons – and has been for the past six years – as natural gas production has grown from 57.7 billion cubic feet (Bcf) per day in 2008 to a projected 86.4 Bcf per day this year, a roughly 50 percent increase. More impressive still, crude oil production has grown from about five million barrels per day (bpd) in 2008 to 10.5 million bpd in April of this year – an over 100 percent increase.

Accompanying such massive energy production is greater flexibility and influence in the global energy market, as the United States is less dependent on foreign oil and gas. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), annual U.S. net imports of crude oil and petroleum products declined over 66 percent from 2008 to 2017. This decline has had a substantial impact on the global oil market and geopolitics as a whole, as Kenneth Medlock, Senior Director of the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University’s James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy, stated in his testimony:

“Nevertheless, the growth in US oil production is transforming the status quo and shifting the geopolitical balance. This highlights the importance of the so-called ‘shale revolution’ in achieving US geopolitical and foreign policy aims.”

He continues:

“As the US increases its exports of crude oil, petroleum products and natural gas, its influence explants into those nations that increasingly rely on imports to satisfy their energy appetites associated with economic growth. In general, expanded US production US production renders global supply to be more responsive, and, as a result, carries an energy security benefit to consumers at home and abroad.”

Admittedly, the United States is not completely independent of foreign producers due to the level of domestic energy consumption, but increased output through shale development now gives the United State the ability to take on the role of global energy exporter. According to EIA, annual U.S. natural gas exports increased 285 percent from 2007 to 2017, as the United States became a net exporter of natural gas for the first time in 60 years in 2017. Further, in the just four years since the U.S. crude oil export ban was lifted, the United States is already exporting over 1.6 million bpd. This export growth provides further opportunity to influence global politics. As Medlock stated:

“As argued in previous Baker Institute research, this also benefits US foreign policy endeavors in dealing with potentially hostile oil-producing nations, and providing a stabilizing effect on the global oil market.”

But even with soaring production and exports, abundant resources “are not a direct proxy for security,” Sarah Ladislaw, director and senior fellow of the Energy and National Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies noted. This is because hinderances to continued development, such as limited pipeline capacity, can weaken America’s ability to fully realize the benefits from increased production. As Ladislaw mentions in her testimony:

“Logistical bottlenecks in pipeline contracting, sighting, permitting, and construction continues to impede rapidly growing oil and gas production in the Permian Basin in Texas from reaching end markets. While this bottleneck is temporary, it once again illustrates the strategic importance of midstream and delivery infrastructure towards realizing the full commercial and strategic value of these resources.”

Because of this, it’s necessary to ensure a streamlined pipeline permitting process is in place and that critical infrastructure is built unimpeded. While “Keep It In the Ground” activists are turning their attention to blocking pipelines, believing it will stop oil and gas development, such actions simply hurt our ability to rely on domestic resources and damages our energy security. Just a few months ago, Massachusetts saw the repercussions of these efforts, as the state, lacking the pipelines needed to transport natural gas from the nearby Marcellus shale, turned to importing liquefied natural gas from Russia to meet their energy needs.

In short, we in the United States has been given an incredible opportunity to improve our energy and natural security, while also boosting our economy through shale development. It’s critical to make sure this opportunity is not wasted.

The post Experts: Shale Revolution Has Improved U.S. Energy Security and is ‘Shifting the Geopolitical Balance’ appeared first on .

Source: Energy In Depth

 

New EID Video/Digital Campaign Launches Ahead of Climate Panel Focused on Boulder Climate Lawsuit

A new Energy in Depth digital short launching today provides the facts and information on why the Boulder climate lawsuit is simply the wrong approach for Colorado.

The video features key Colorado voices pushing back against the suit and shows how Colorado’s energy industry is helping grow the economy while improving the environment.

The video launches the day before an event sponsored by the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry (CACI) and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) that will take a deeper dive into the lawsuit itself and the ramifications for Colorado manufacturers.

The digital short will run on social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter and will target Coloradans across the state. 

Visit EIDClimate.org for the full blog post on EID’s new digital short.

The post New EID Video/Digital Campaign Launches Ahead of Climate Panel Focused on Boulder Climate Lawsuit appeared first on .

Source: Energy In Depth

 

Donation from Exxon and Employees Underscores Vital Role of O&G in Funding Ohio Education

ExxonMobil, XTO Energy and its current and former employees contributed more than $852,000 to 33 Ohio colleges and universities in 2017, the company announced this week. Part of the ExxonMobil Foundations 2017 Educational Matching Gift Program, the company generously matched almost $217,000 from current and former employees on a three to one basis. This massive contribution to so many of Ohio’s academic institutions not only highlights the importance Exxon and its employees place on education, but also how intertwined oil and gas companies are with the vitality of communities across the state. The donation comes in addition to the hundreds of millions in tax revenues both already realized and yet to come from the oil and gas industry that are also pouring into Ohio schools across the state.

While the recipient colleges and universities are encouraged to use some of these funds for math and science programs, the grants are unrestricted, meaning they could be used to address areas where the schools most need it. This is good news, because while recipients include large (but equally deserving) institutions such as the University of Cincinnati and the Ohio State University, donations to smaller schools such as Cedarville University and Antioch College could help create tremendous opportunities for university programs. Here’s the complete list of the 33 schools ExxonMobil recently supported:

Antioch College
Ashland University
Bowling Green State University
Capital University
Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland State University
College of Wooster
Denison University
Franciscan University of Steubenville
Hiram College
John Carroll University
Kent State University Foundation
Kenyon College
Marietta College
Miami University
Muskingum University
NEOUCOM Foundation
Notre Dame College
Oberlin College
Ohio Northern University
Ohio State University Foundation
Ohio University
Ohio Wesleyan University
The Cedarville University
The University of Toledo Foundation
University of Akron
University of Cincinnati
University of Mount Union
Urbana University
Wilmington College
Wittenberg University
Xavier University
Youngstown State University

Contributing a total of almost $50 million nationwide through the 2017 Educational Matching Gift Program, Kevin Murphy, president of the ExxonMobil Foundation, highlighted the importance of education to Exxon and its employees, stating in a press release:

“We have a long history of supporting a range of efforts to improve education in the United States. … Our employees and retirees are similarly committed to investing in quality education, as demonstrated by the impressive amount they have chosen to donate. We’re confident that our contributions as well as the generous support of our employees and retirees will help create a stronger future for today’s students.”

Such an emphasis on the key role played by employees and retirees in this program truly drives home the point that these companies are not the faceless and soulless conglomerates that anti-oil and gas activists would have you believe, but a group of hardworking men and women who are proud of what they do and their community. These are the same men and women who are the driving force behind the state’s thriving oil and natural gas development, which provides millions of dollars in vital funding to Ohio schools each year. For example, a single Ohio school district is estimated to receive over $42 million in tax revenue from just one new natural gas power plant.

Whether it’s through state and local tax revenue, or from the giving hearts of company employees, it’s clear that Ohio oil and gas development helps provide quality education for students at all grade levels.

The post Donation from Exxon and Employees Underscores Vital Role of O&G in Funding Ohio Education appeared first on .

Source: Energy In Depth

 

Upstream PA Conference: The Marcellus Shale Has Been a Game-Changer for Pennsylvania

Shale Directory’s recent Upstream PA 2018 conference held in State College focused on the tremendous positive impact that the Marcellus Shale has had on Pennsylvania over the last decade and what to expect for the rest of 2018. Speakers included:

  • Pa. House Speaker Mike Turzai (R)
  • Dave Spigelmyer, Marcellus Shale Coalition
  • Stephanie Catarino-Wissman, Associated Petroleum Industries of Pennsylvania
  • Mike Killion, EQT
  • Tom Gillespie, Inflection Energy
  • George Stark, Cabot Oil and Gas
  • Rob Boulware, Seneca Resources
  • Curtis Wilkerson, Orion Strategies
  • Jude Clemente, JTC Energy Research Associates
  • Jim Willis, Marcellus Drilling News
  • Dr. Terry Engelder

The overall message was positive, with multiple speakers describing the game-changing opportunities in Pennsylvania made possible by shale. As Jude Clemente, principal of JTC Energy Research Associates and a frequent Forbes contributor, said, “Shale has changed everything.”

And indeed it has. Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) president David Spigelmyer explained that there have been over 10,000 unconventional wells drilled in Pennsylvania, with over 8,200 of those now in production. Those wells produced about 5.4 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas in 2017, and the Commonwealth is currently producing more than 15 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas every single day.

Marcellus Drilling News’ Jim Willis shared that Pennsylvania’s top producing counties are Susquehanna, Bradford, Washington, Greene and Lycoming, while Chesapeake Energy, Cabot Oil and Gas, Range Resources, EQT and Southwestern Energy are the Commonwealth’s top producing companies. To give perspective on just how much gas these companies are producing, Cabot’s Director of External Affairs George Stark explained that his company will increase its production from 2 Bcf per day to 3 Bcf every day when the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline comes online later this year!

That record-breaking production has resulted in major economic benefits, as Spigelmyer explained,

“This industry has created three Amazons in Pennsylvania, without one subsidy request.”

Pa. House Speaker Mike Turzai (R) explained that some of those benefits include an impact fee (a tax on wells drilled) that “no one else in the country has” that “goes back to the local communities where development is happening.” Spigelmyer explained that,

“These local impact fee revenues are game-changers for rural Pennsylvania.”

With the estimated $219.4 million impact fee disbursement that will be distributed over the summer, the shale industry will have paid over $1.5 billion in impact fees since 2011.

As the above fee distribution breakdown demonstrates, most of that money stays in the counties and municipalities where development occurs, although every county receives some portion of the fee. Impact fee money can be used for everything from infrastructure improvement to emergency services to workforce training as the following charts show:

Spigelmyer also told attendees,

“We need to be proud of the industry we represent. We’ve made game-changing achievements not only for the state, but the country.”

This sentiment was echoed by Rep. Turzai who opened his presentation with an expression of gratitude for the many companies representing all segments of the oil and gas lifecycle that were present, saying,

“You are doers. You are people who are on the front line and should be celebrated for the work you are doing in Pennsylvania.”

“The benefit to everyday Pennsylvanians, whether you’re upstream, midstream or downstream, needs to be told over and over. ”

Seneca Resources’ Rob Boulware explained that for every well drilled, his company spends about “$47 million buying goods and services from businesses in Pennsylvania.” And Stark described how Cabot has paid over $1 billion in royalties to property owners in Susquehanna County, in addition to other investments the company has made in the community.

But, as Rep. Turzai said, it’s not just upstream benefits that have been realized by the Commonwealth. New investments in the state have also occurred thanks to the abundance of natural gas and natural gas liquids in the region, such as the $6 billion Shell cracker plant that, as Rep. Turzai explained, will create roughly 6,000 jobs during construction and 600 permanent jobs. The Shale Crescent region can support five to six more of those facilities, and plans are already in the works for a second facility in Ohio. These facilities will provide a valuable feedstock for plastics manufacturing, presenting another potential economic development opportunity. As Rep. Turzai said,

“Plastics can be used in containers, diapers, crayons…why are we not talking about getting those manufacturing facilities located in southwest Pennsylvania by that cracker facility?”

The increased natural gas-fired electricity being generated in the Northeast is another notable end-use benefit of Marcellus shale development. As Willis discussed, about 21 of the total 32 gigawatts of planned new U.S. electricity generation slated for 2018 will be gas-fired, with about 43 percent of that new natural gas-fired electricity located in the Marcellus-Utica region. This continued increase in natural-gas fired electricity generation has led to the cleanest air the country has seen in decades, as Clemente discussed in his presentation.

Clemente also discussed another important benefit of the shale revolution: low-cost energy. He emphasized to attendees to “never forget how important it is to have low-cost energy,” noting that much of Europe is in a state of energy poverty, where older populations especially are at greater risk because of high energy costs. He explained,

“A pipeline build-out is coming in Appalachia. The natural gas is here, the demand is rising — we don’t have a choice. We have to produce more because electricity is such an important commodity.”

Of course, not everyone in the Northeast has made a connection between the need for low-cost energy and the pipelines needed to make it a reality. Several speakers described the high energy costs that have resulted from policy decisions and blocking important infrastructure projects in New York in particular. Willis explained that when it comes to pipelines,

“The idea behind the state issuing permits is not so they can veto a project, but to guide it. New York has taken that to an extreme.”

As Clemente explained, both New York and New England will need pipelines to meet growing natural gas demand.

Nonetheless, decision-makers in these states have bowed to “Keep It In the Ground” interests, and as Clemente said,

“The anti-pipeline movement hurts families and businesses. There are higher costs for energy where pipelines have been blocked and delayed.”

As the above chart shows, and Spigelmyer said,

“Policies that have discouraged or blocked pipeline development in the Northeast are having direct and significant impact to all levels of consumers.”

Spigelmyer further illustrated this fact by noting that New York City consumers were paying $175 per MMBtu in January at the same time Pennsylvanians were paying less than $5 per MMBtu.

At the end of the day two things were very clear: The shale revolution has had a tremendous positive impact on Pennsylvania, and this is only the beginning. As Spigelmyer explained,

“We’re still in the first inning of a nine inning game. …I think what we have here is game-changing.”

The post Upstream PA Conference: The Marcellus Shale Has Been a Game-Changer for Pennsylvania appeared first on .

Source: Energy In Depth

 

Report Finds Oil and Gas Industry Experienced Strong Jobs Growth in 2017

A new report from former U.S. Energy Sec. Ernest Moniz’s think tank, Energy Futures Initiative, finds that the oil and natural gas industry’s jobs numbers enjoyed a similarly positive trajectory as its production totals in 2017.

The joint report with the National Association of State Energy Officials finds that the upstream portion of the oil and gas supply chain added 11,000 jobs in 2017, while the natural gas-fired electricity generation sector added an impressive 19,000 jobs. The former can be traced to a moderate rebound in commodity prices, while the report credits the latter trend to the continued switch to clean-burning natural gas for electricity generation.

Designed to supplement Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the report’s findings are buttressed by a survey of 24,000 employers — which included 400,000 calls to employers and 40,000 emails, according to an E&E News report. The report explains:

“Because the supplemental survey captures employment across a wide range of activities and industries, the report includes more than a million jobs that would not otherwise be identified as part of the Traditional Energy sectors.”

The report finds that in 2017 more than 510,000 were employed in oil/petroleum fuels occupations —which encompass the entire range of business activities that support both fuel extraction and production — a 1.5 percent increase from 2016. Natural gas production-related employment was 312,364 in 2017, up 2,000 jobs from 2016.

The increased jobs numbers correlate with an increase in both oil and natural gas production from 2016 to 2017, thanks in large part to a modest rebound in commodity prices following an extended price slump.

Taking a longer view, the report notes that oil and gas extraction employment has increased 16 percent since 2009, correlating directly with the shale revolution that has taken place during that time.

A downstream byproduct of the shale gas revolution — increased natural gas use for electricity generation — is reflected in the fact that the report notes the natural gas electricity generation sector added 19,000 jobs in 2017. The report finds that natural gas electricity generation has increased 57 percent since 2006. From the report:

“Jobs for natural gas have continued to outpace job growth in other generation technologies as natural gas has become the largest source of electrical generation in the United States and the largest source of new generation.”

A majority of these jobs have been of the construction variety, as numerous new power plants are being built to accommodate an electricity generation fuel source that has become popular for both environmental and economic reasons. At the same time natural gas has become the top fuel source for electricity, Americans are paying less for electricity than ever before, while power sector carbon dioxide emissions have fallen to their lowest levels since 1988. This win-win is also creating jobs. From the report:

“This transition has resulted in employment gains across Electric Power Generation, with a particular impact on the construction industry…”

The report notes that natural gas power plant-related employment is expected to grow another five percent in 2018, spearheaded by construction of new plants. Better than two-thirds of 32 gigawatts (GW) of new electric generating capacity expected to come online in 2018 will be from natural gas.

Though the report’s 2017 employment data for the midstream portion of the industry is far less clear than the upstream and electricity generation data, the report notes there was an eight percent increase in the construction segment of the transmission, distribution and storage category — which includes oil and natural gas pipeline construction.

The report notes that of the 1,332,826 workers employed in the transmission, distribution and storage category in 2017, 34 percent of the total were “in construction companies that construct pipeline and other infrastructure that support Transmission, Distribution, and Storage, including both fuels and electricity.” From the report:

“Construction firms contributed the most employment to Transmission, Distribution, and Storage activities in 2017, with 458,040 jobs, an 8 percent increase from 2016. This work included pipeline and electric transmission and distribution activity, as well as the development of smart and micro grids…”

Conclusion

With record-breaking U.S. oil and natural gas production forecasted for 2018, the positive jobs data detailed in this report is likely just the first chapter in a yet-to-be-completed book detailing the oil and gas industry’s robust recovery from the dark days of 2015 and 2016. In fact, the BLS expects industry to drive U.S. jobs growth through 2026.

These trends can all be traced to the incredible advancements in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technology that have already created at least 2.7 million American jobs. Fortunately, the best may be yet to come.

The post Report Finds Oil and Gas Industry Experienced Strong Jobs Growth in 2017 appeared first on .

Source: Energy In Depth

 

Report Finds Oil and Gas Industry Experienced Strong Jobs Growth in 2017

A new report from former U.S. Energy Sec. Ernest Moniz’s think tank, Energy Futures Initiative, finds that the oil and natural gas industry’s jobs numbers enjoyed a similarly positive trajectory as its production totals in 2017.

The joint report with the National Association of State Energy Officials finds that the upstream portion of the oil and gas supply chain added 11,000 jobs in 2017, while the natural gas-fired electricity generation sector added an impressive 19,000 jobs. The former can be traced to a moderate rebound in commodity prices, while the report credits the latter trend to the continued switch to clean-burning natural gas for electricity generation.

Designed to supplement Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the report’s findings are buttressed by a survey of 24,000 employers — which included 400,000 calls to employers and 40,000 emails, according to an E&E News report. The report explains:

“Because the supplemental survey captures employment across a wide range of activities and industries, the report includes more than a million jobs that would not otherwise be identified as part of the Traditional Energy sectors.”

The report finds that in 2017 more than 510,000 were employed in oil/petroleum fuels occupations —which encompass the entire range of business activities that support both fuel extraction and production — a 1.5 percent increase from 2016. Natural gas production-related employment was 312,364 in 2017, up 2,000 jobs from 2016.

The increased jobs numbers correlate with an increase in both oil and natural gas production from 2016 to 2017, thanks in large part to a modest rebound in commodity prices following an extended price slump.

Taking a longer view, the report notes that oil and gas extraction employment has increased 16 percent since 2009, correlating directly with the shale revolution that has taken place during that time.

A downstream byproduct of the shale gas revolution — increased natural gas use for electricity generation — is reflected in the fact that the report notes the natural gas electricity generation sector added 19,000 jobs in 2017. The report finds that natural gas electricity generation has increased 57 percent since 2006. From the report:

“Jobs for natural gas have continued to outpace job growth in other generation technologies as natural gas has become the largest source of electrical generation in the United States and the largest source of new generation.”

A majority of these jobs have been of the construction variety, as numerous new power plants are being built to accommodate an electricity generation fuel source that has become popular for both environmental and economic reasons. At the same time natural gas has become the top fuel source for electricity, Americans are paying less for electricity than ever before, while power sector carbon dioxide emissions have fallen to their lowest levels since 1988. This win-win is also creating jobs. From the report:

“This transition has resulted in employment gains across Electric Power Generation, with a particular impact on the construction industry…”

The report notes that natural gas power plant-related employment is expected to grow another five percent in 2018, spearheaded by construction of new plants. Better than two-thirds of 32 gigawatts (GW) of new electric generating capacity expected to come online in 2018 will be from natural gas.

Though the report’s 2017 employment data for the midstream portion of the industry is far less clear than the upstream and electricity generation data, the report notes there was an eight percent increase in the construction segment of the transmission, distribution and storage category — which includes oil and natural gas pipeline construction.

The report notes that of the 1,332,826 workers employed in the transmission, distribution and storage category in 2017, 34 percent of the total were “in construction companies that construct pipeline and other infrastructure that support Transmission, Distribution, and Storage, including both fuels and electricity.” From the report:

“Construction firms contributed the most employment to Transmission, Distribution, and Storage activities in 2017, with 458,040 jobs, an 8 percent increase from 2016. This work included pipeline and electric transmission and distribution activity, as well as the development of smart and micro grids…”

Conclusion

With record-breaking U.S. oil and natural gas production forecasted for 2018, the positive jobs data detailed in this report is likely just the first chapter in a yet-to-be-completed book detailing the oil and gas industry’s robust recovery from the dark days of 2015 and 2016. In fact, the BLS expects industry to drive U.S. jobs growth through 2026.

These trends can all be traced to the incredible advancements in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technology that have already created at least 2.7 million American jobs. Fortunately, the best may be yet to come.

The post Report Finds Oil and Gas Industry Experienced Strong Jobs Growth in 2017 appeared first on .

Source: Energy In Depth

 

Report Finds Oil and Gas Industry Experienced Strong Jobs Growth in 2017

A new report from former U.S. Energy Sec. Ernest Moniz’s think tank, Energy Futures Initiative, finds that the oil and natural gas industry’s jobs numbers enjoyed a similarly positive trajectory as its production totals in 2017.

The joint report with the National Association of State Energy Officials finds that the upstream portion of the oil and gas supply chain added 11,000 jobs in 2017, while the natural gas-fired electricity generation sector added an impressive 19,000 jobs. The former can be traced to a moderate rebound in commodity prices, while the report credits the latter trend to the continued switch to clean-burning natural gas for electricity generation.

Designed to supplement Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the report’s findings are buttressed by a survey of 24,000 employers — which included 400,000 calls to employers and 40,000 emails, according to an E&E News report. The report explains:

“Because the supplemental survey captures employment across a wide range of activities and industries, the report includes more than a million jobs that would not otherwise be identified as part of the Traditional Energy sectors.”

The report finds that in 2017 more than 510,000 were employed in oil/petroleum fuels occupations —which encompass the entire range of business activities that support both fuel extraction and production — a 1.5 percent increase from 2016. Natural gas production-related employment was 312,364 in 2017, up 2,000 jobs from 2016.

The increased jobs numbers correlate with an increase in both oil and natural gas production from 2016 to 2017, thanks in large part to a modest rebound in commodity prices following an extended price slump.

Taking a longer view, the report notes that oil and gas extraction employment has increased 16 percent since 2009, correlating directly with the shale revolution that has taken place during that time.

A downstream byproduct of the shale gas revolution — increased natural gas use for electricity generation — is reflected in the fact that the report notes the natural gas electricity generation sector added 19,000 jobs in 2017. The report finds that natural gas electricity generation has increased 57 percent since 2006. From the report:

“Jobs for natural gas have continued to outpace job growth in other generation technologies as natural gas has become the largest source of electrical generation in the United States and the largest source of new generation.”

A majority of these jobs have been of the construction variety, as numerous new power plants are being built to accommodate an electricity generation fuel source that has become popular for both environmental and economic reasons. At the same time natural gas has become the top fuel source for electricity, Americans are paying less for electricity than ever before, while power sector carbon dioxide emissions have fallen to their lowest levels since 1988. This win-win is also creating jobs. From the report:

“This transition has resulted in employment gains across Electric Power Generation, with a particular impact on the construction industry…”

The report notes that natural gas power plant-related employment is expected to grow another five percent in 2018, spearheaded by construction of new plants. Better than two-thirds of 32 gigawatts (GW) of new electric generating capacity expected to come online in 2018 will be from natural gas.

Though the report’s 2017 employment data for the midstream portion of the industry is far less clear than the upstream and electricity generation data, the report notes there was an eight percent increase in the construction segment of the transmission, distribution and storage category — which includes oil and natural gas pipeline construction.

The report notes that of the 1,332,826 workers employed in the transmission, distribution and storage category in 2017, 34 percent of the total were “in construction companies that construct pipeline and other infrastructure that support Transmission, Distribution, and Storage, including both fuels and electricity.” From the report:

“Construction firms contributed the most employment to Transmission, Distribution, and Storage activities in 2017, with 458,040 jobs, an 8 percent increase from 2016. This work included pipeline and electric transmission and distribution activity, as well as the development of smart and micro grids…”

Conclusion

With record-breaking U.S. oil and natural gas production forecasted for 2018, the positive jobs data detailed in this report is likely just the first chapter in a yet-to-be-completed book detailing the oil and gas industry’s robust recovery from the dark days of 2015 and 2016. In fact, the BLS expects industry to drive U.S. jobs growth through 2026.

These trends can all be traced to the incredible advancements in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technology that have already created at least 2.7 million American jobs. Fortunately, the best may be yet to come.

The post Report Finds Oil and Gas Industry Experienced Strong Jobs Growth in 2017 appeared first on .

Source: Energy In Depth

 

Report Finds Oil and Gas Industry Experienced Strong Jobs Growth in 2017

A new report from former U.S. Energy Sec. Ernest Moniz’s think tank, Energy Futures Initiative, finds that the oil and natural gas industry’s jobs numbers enjoyed a similarly positive trajectory as its production totals in 2017.

The joint report with the National Association of State Energy Officials finds that the upstream portion of the oil and gas supply chain added 11,000 jobs in 2017, while the natural gas-fired electricity generation sector added an impressive 19,000 jobs. The former can be traced to a moderate rebound in commodity prices, while the report credits the latter trend to the continued switch to clean-burning natural gas for electricity generation.

Designed to supplement Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the report’s findings are buttressed by a survey of 24,000 employers — which included 400,000 calls to employers and 40,000 emails, according to an E&E News report. The report explains:

“Because the supplemental survey captures employment across a wide range of activities and industries, the report includes more than a million jobs that would not otherwise be identified as part of the Traditional Energy sectors.”

The report finds that in 2017 more than 510,000 were employed in oil/petroleum fuels occupations —which encompass the entire range of business activities that support both fuel extraction and production — a 1.5 percent increase from 2016. Natural gas production-related employment was 312,364 in 2017, up 2,000 jobs from 2016.

The increased jobs numbers correlate with an increase in both oil and natural gas production from 2016 to 2017, thanks in large part to a modest rebound in commodity prices following an extended price slump.

Taking a longer view, the report notes that oil and gas extraction employment has increased 16 percent since 2009, correlating directly with the shale revolution that has taken place during that time.

A downstream byproduct of the shale gas revolution — increased natural gas use for electricity generation — is reflected in the fact that the report notes the natural gas electricity generation sector added 19,000 jobs in 2017. The report finds that natural gas electricity generation has increased 57 percent since 2006. From the report:

“Jobs for natural gas have continued to outpace job growth in other generation technologies as natural gas has become the largest source of electrical generation in the United States and the largest source of new generation.”

A majority of these jobs have been of the construction variety, as numerous new power plants are being built to accommodate an electricity generation fuel source that has become popular for both environmental and economic reasons. At the same time natural gas has become the top fuel source for electricity, Americans are paying less for electricity than ever before, while power sector carbon dioxide emissions have fallen to their lowest levels since 1988. This win-win is also creating jobs. From the report:

“This transition has resulted in employment gains across Electric Power Generation, with a particular impact on the construction industry…”

The report notes that natural gas power plant-related employment is expected to grow another five percent in 2018, spearheaded by construction of new plants. Better than two-thirds of 32 gigawatts (GW) of new electric generating capacity expected to come online in 2018 will be from natural gas.

Though the report’s 2017 employment data for the midstream portion of the industry is far less clear than the upstream and electricity generation data, the report notes there was an eight percent increase in the construction segment of the transmission, distribution and storage category — which includes oil and natural gas pipeline construction.

The report notes that of the 1,332,826 workers employed in the transmission, distribution and storage category in 2017, 34 percent of the total were “in construction companies that construct pipeline and other infrastructure that support Transmission, Distribution, and Storage, including both fuels and electricity.” From the report:

“Construction firms contributed the most employment to Transmission, Distribution, and Storage activities in 2017, with 458,040 jobs, an 8 percent increase from 2016. This work included pipeline and electric transmission and distribution activity, as well as the development of smart and micro grids…”

Conclusion

With record-breaking U.S. oil and natural gas production forecasted for 2018, the positive jobs data detailed in this report is likely just the first chapter in a yet-to-be-completed book detailing the oil and gas industry’s robust recovery from the dark days of 2015 and 2016. In fact, the BLS expects industry to drive U.S. jobs growth through 2026.

These trends can all be traced to the incredible advancements in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technology that have already created at least 2.7 million American jobs. Fortunately, the best may be yet to come.

The post Report Finds Oil and Gas Industry Experienced Strong Jobs Growth in 2017 appeared first on .

Source: Energy In Depth

 

Justice Department: Climate Lawsuits ‘Violate Constitutional Principles’

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) last Thursday filed an amicus brief in the cases filed by San Francisco and Oakland against energy producers, slamming the lawsuits and asking the court for dismissal. The lawsuits seek financial “damages” from energy companies for the risks posed by climate change.

Continue reading on EID Climate.

The post Justice Department: Climate Lawsuits ‘Violate Constitutional Principles’ appeared first on .

Source: Energy In Depth

 

*UPDATE* Investigative Post Misses the Mark on Gas Drilling In Potter County, Pa.

UPDATE (5/11/18, 5:00 PM EST): Investigative Post (IP) reporter Jim Heaney has updated his story addressing the false statements EID noted within this original post – but readers wouldn’t know that simply by visiting the IP site. Heaney makes no mention anywhere in the post that he’s made modifications to the report.

The original IP report had a completely false line that read:

 “An Investigative Post review of  state records found inspectors have visited JKLM’s drilling sites 20 times in the past three years and cited the company for violations each and every time…”

The reality being that the Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) inspected JKLM Energy’s well sites more than 600 times since 2015, with only about three percent of inspections resulting in a violation. In what seems to be an effort to correct that inaccurate claim, while still making an equally misleading claim that lacks necessary context, Heaney quietly changed that sentence to:

“Public records show the state Department of Environmental Protection has cited JKLM Energy for 62 regulatory violations found during 20 inspections since 2015…”

Notably, the link to Heaney’s review of the state records — or even an acknowledgement that he was the one to review them — is noticeably absent from the text now.

Interestingly, Heaney makes at least one other correction to the story on the heels of some backlash for misrepresenting Coudersport Borough Councilman Brian Ruane’s comments, adding this line to the report:

“Ruane added, however, that fracking needs to be done responsibly, especially in an area like Potter County, whose economy is reliant in part of tourism and recreation. He and others are concerned, including Melissa Troutman, a local resident and executive director of Public Herald, a nonprofit investigative reporting center that covers the fracking industry.”

In a show of hand to the Keep It In the Ground agenda driving the IP report, Heaney chose not to make another important update to that Ruane addition: Nowhere in the story does it mention that Troutman is now employed by the notoriously anti-fracking organization Earthworks, as EID detailed in the original blog post. Why continue to mislead readers – both regarding what information Heaney’s chosen to include and leave out – unless there is an underlying agenda at play?

 Original Post

In a show of hand to the Keep It In the Ground agenda driving the IP report, Heaney chose not to make another important update to that Ruane addition: Nowhere in the story does it mention that Troutman is now employed by the notoriously anti-fracking organization Earthworks, as EID detailed in the original blog post. Why continue to mislead readers – both regarding what information Heaney’s chosen to include and leave out – unless there is an underlying agenda at play?

Buffalo, N.Y.’s WGRZ recently aired a misleading and inaccurate Investigative Post (IP) report on oil and gas exploration and production company JKLM Energy’s operations and involvement in Potter County, Pa.

While the report offered some balance, the vast majority reads more like a “Keep It In the Ground” (KIITG) agenda-driven attack against JKLM Energy than a legitimate news story, complete with false statements and highly questionable sources.

Here are the top four things to keep in mind when reading the IP report:

#1. IP’s claims are misleading and at times completely false.

The biggest example of KIITG-driven “fake news” in the report is one that’s really the centerpiece for all of Heaney’s claims:

IP Claim: “An Investigative Post review of state records found inspectors have visited JKLM’s drilling sites 20 times in the past three years and cited the company for violations each and every time…”

This claim is patently false — and it’s not just a little stretch of the truth, either. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) compliance report database actually shows that the agency inspected JKLM’s well sites 636 times from 2015 to March 16, 2018.

Screenshot of DEP compliance report from EID search

The inaccuracy of Heaney’s reporting can be traced to the fact that he searched for “Inspections With Violations Only,” which resulted in, as the search criteria implies, the database only pulling those inspections that resulted in violations.

While it’s important that companies strive to reduce incidents on site – whether those be issues with paperwork or the results of human or equipment error – three percent of inspections resulting in violations is a far cry from the claim DEP “cited the company for violations each and every time” they inspected JKLM in the last three years.

It’s also worth noting that the DEP database is not as straightforward as simply looking at raw numbers, for the simple fact that it includes repetitive entries and does not remove entries entered in error. In fact, one of the violations listed for JKLM clearly states, “This inspection was created in error” by DEP, yet still remains as a searchable violation in the agency’s database.

Further, the violations cited against any company do not necessarily mean that new incidents occurred every time a violation is noted. That’s because every time DEP inspects a well site where a previous violation has been issued and is still being remediated, the database notation for that is inputted as a new violation. Realistically, in the case of JKLM, the violations DEP has issued have been for only eight wells or related infrastructure, and many of the violations are repetitively entered based on previously isolated incidents. Which brings us to the next important point…

#2. The IP report is based on a year-old report from an organization that has been caught fabricating stories about Pennsylvania’s shale industry on more than one occasion.

At the heart of these false claims is a year-old report from anti-fracking organization PennEnvironment that Heaney uses as the basis for his entire “investigative” report.

Not only does PennEnvironment have an obvious agenda to stop shale development – the organization has a website page called, “Don’t Frack Pennsylvania” – but they’ve been caught red-handed fabricating stories to achieve those goals.

Recall back in 2011 when in an attempt to capitalize on the devastation our region experienced from Hurricane Lee, PennEnvironment released an image of a flooded oil and gas rig with the caption, “Here’s more evidence Marcellus Shale drilling pads should NOT be allowed in floodplains.” But as the Harrisburg Patriot-News reported shortly after the image was shared:

“[T]he rig wasn’t in the Marcellus Shale.

“It wasn’t even in the United States.

“’Apologies folks,’ Penn Environment later admitted: the photo was of a flooded rig in Pakistan.”

Similarly, a few months later in 2012, the group tried to pass off an image of a South African pipe releasing treated water as an example of “toxic industrial pollution” from fracking occurring in Pennsylvania.

Not surprisingly, PennEnvironment, and parent organization Environment America, don’t have a much better track record for accuracy in their reports, including the one Heaney relies so heavily on in the IP report. Specifically, PennEnvironment’s report on violations is one they have been repackaging since 2012 with the same issues in each: the reports take data out of context and even go as far as to redefine violations to fit their agenda. From the 2015 version:

“In addition to specifying specific violations, the downloaded file also sorted them into categories: ‘administrative’ or ‘environmental health and safety.’ We discarded Pennsylvania’s categorization as inconsistent and inadequate, and instead ourselves divided the violations into two categories: ‘administrative’ or ‘environmental and health,’ based on the definitions listed in Appendix A.

For PennEnvironment, violations need to be a numbers game and they’ve shown time and again that they take great strides to make the data match their narrative. In quoting their report and members, all Heaney actually did was give PennEnvironment yet another platform to push the group’s clear agenda to ban fracking.

#3. IP misleads on Coudersport resident Melissa Troutman, who is not an unbiased local bystander.

One of IP’s primary sources for the story, Coudersport resident Melissa Troutman, is hardly an unbiased local bystander. Although she is a Potter County resident who happens to have wells being developed near her property, she also has a clear mission to stop shale development in Pennsylvania.

And while her anti-fracking position was pretty evident in her role in founding the outlet Public Herald, it became crystal clear when she recently accepted a position with Earthworks – a group that vehemently opposes fracking and has even proudly equated the process with rape. Notably, disclosure of Troutman’s new job is conveniently missing from the IP report, where she is listed only as a resident and founder of Public Herald.

In the spirit of transparency – both Public Herald and PennEnvironment, which appear to have been the primary sources for the IP report, receive funding from the Colcom Foundation, which has notoriously funded anti-fracking ventures.

Moreover, Troutman doesn’t appear to have been randomly selected by IP to act as a source. In fact, Public Herald and IP actually have some distinct connections that make it hard to believe this wasn’t an orchestrated attack on JKLM Energy.

Public Herald (2013) and IP (2015) were both recipients of the Institute for Nonprofit News’ (formerly the Investigative News Network) INNovation Fund that was established by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. In 2013, Kevin Davis, then-CEO and Director of INN, issued a statement that he was “thrilled” to welcome three new members, including Public Herald, to the INN roster of newsrooms because they represented “the next generation in collaborative, mission-driven newsrooms.”

That encouraged collaboration between members appears to have come to fruition in Tuesday night’s piece – an incredible coincidence considering Davis now sits on the IP Board of Directors.

This is further evidenced by a recent comment Public Herald co-founder Josh Pribanic made on a public Facebook post that alluded to him knowing what content would and wouldn’t be included in the piece and that his outlet was publishing a similar write-up on its heels.

And the coincidences don’t stop there. In the IP report, Heaney directs people to the organization LittleSis, which is a part of the Public Accountability Initiative – another anti-fracking organization that, according to 990s, received over $360,000 for work specifically targeting fracking from the 11th Hour Project. Unsurprisingly, Public Herald also lists 11th Hour Project as a funder for its own “investigative reports” (read: attacks) on JKLM Energy.

One has to wonder if all of this really is just sheer coincidence or if it is a case of collusion and cooperation between anti-fracking organizations.

#4. JKLM Energy is a well-respected and active member of the Potter County community.

In JKLM’s response to the IP report, the company states,

“We’re proud of the work that we continue to accomplish together, and the local benefits that we’re creating, and recognize that it’s a privilege to operate in the communities where we work, invest and grow local jobs. At JKLM, there’s no higher priority than keeping our environment and communities safe.” (emphasis added)

Based on comments from folks like Potter County Commissioner Susan Kefover (D), JKLM’s commitment to the community and environment hasn’t been an empty promise. To IP’s credit, author Jim Heaney did quote Kefover in the report, acknowledging she “termed JKLM Energy an ‘excellent company.’” But that’s only a fraction of what the commissioner actually sent in her statement to the reporter:

“Pennsylvania has some of the highest environmental standards in the nation for air and water quality protection. I value our environment and quality of life here and aggressively work toward preserving it. I also value working with companies such as JKLM who honor, respect, and diligently uphold those same goals.” (emphasis added)

This sentiment was echoed by Coudersport Borough Councilman Wayne Hathaway, who explained to EID,

“I have honestly not seen any reason yet for all of the adverse publicity against JKLM brought on by these activists. The company has made huge investments in our community, including a major donation for the rebuilding of our local pool. Not only have they done that, but they did an incredible job on some of the local roads. They have a lot of truck traffic admittedly, but they’ve improved the roads to much better quality than when they started. I have not seen anything in their operations and activities that would make me speak negatively about JKLM Energy.”

Hathaway is pretty spot on that this entire IP report, where Heaney brings up long remediated incidents and uses outdated (and debunked reports) from anti-fracking organizations to base his claims on, seems to be solely “brought on by these activists,” rather than anything the company has or hasn’t done recently.

Conclusion

Make no mistake – no one is saying that all companies operating in Pennsylvania shouldn’t be striving to improve their records for any and all instances or violations. That’s a given. But to expect “zero risk” from any industry, whether it’s oil and gas or even the media, isn’t realistic. Even Heaney acknowledged this when he told WGRZ, “Yeah, it’s probably impossible not to have some [violations].”

Producing a report that has blatantly false information and a clear agenda against a company that has become an important part of Potter County has no other result than to fuel misinformation and misguided fear. And that’s not helpful to anyone whether they are living in Coudersport or Buffalo.

Source: Energy In Depth

 

*UPDATE* Investigative Post Misses the Mark on Gas Drilling In Potter County, Pa.

UPDATE (5/11/18, 5:00 PM EST): Investigative Post (IP) reporter Jim Heaney has updated his story addressing the false statements EID noted within this original post – but readers wouldn’t know that simply by visiting the IP site. Heaney makes no mention anywhere in the post that he’s made modifications to the report.

The original IP report had a completely false line that read:

 “An Investigative Post review of  state records found inspectors have visited JKLM’s drilling sites 20 times in the past three years and cited the company for violations each and every time…”

The reality being that the Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) inspected JKLM Energy’s well sites more than 600 times since 2015, with only about three percent of inspections resulting in a violation. In what seems to be an effort to correct that inaccurate claim, while still making an equally misleading claim that lacks necessary context, Heaney quietly changed that sentence to:

“Public records show the state Department of Environmental Protection has cited JKLM Energy for 62 regulatory violations found during 20 inspections since 2015…”

Notably, the link to Heaney’s review of the state records — or even an acknowledgement that he was the one to review them — is noticeably absent from the text now.

Interestingly, Heaney makes at least one other correction to the story on the heels of some backlash for misrepresenting Coudersport Borough Councilman Brian Ruane’s comments, adding this line to the report:

“Ruane added, however, that fracking needs to be done responsibly, especially in an area like Potter County, whose economy is reliant in part of tourism and recreation. He and others are concerned, including Melissa Troutman, a local resident and executive director of Public Herald, a nonprofit investigative reporting center that covers the fracking industry.”

In a show of hand to the Keep It In the Ground agenda driving the IP report, Heaney chose not to make another important update to that Ruane addition: Nowhere in the story does it mention that Troutman is now employed by the notoriously anti-fracking organization Earthworks, as EID detailed in the original blog post. Why continue to mislead readers – both regarding what information Heaney’s chosen to include and leave out – unless there is an underlying agenda at play?

 Original Post

In a show of hand to the Keep It In the Ground agenda driving the IP report, Heaney chose not to make another important update to that Ruane addition: Nowhere in the story does it mention that Troutman is now employed by the notoriously anti-fracking organization Earthworks, as EID detailed in the original blog post. Why continue to mislead readers – both regarding what information Heaney’s chosen to include and leave out – unless there is an underlying agenda at play?

Buffalo, N.Y.’s WGRZ recently aired a misleading and inaccurate Investigative Post (IP) report on oil and gas exploration and production company JKLM Energy’s operations and involvement in Potter County, Pa.

While the report offered some balance, the vast majority reads more like a “Keep It In the Ground” (KIITG) agenda-driven attack against JKLM Energy than a legitimate news story, complete with false statements and highly questionable sources.

Here are the top four things to keep in mind when reading the IP report:

#1. IP’s claims are misleading and at times completely false.

The biggest example of KIITG-driven “fake news” in the report is one that’s really the centerpiece for all of Heaney’s claims:

IP Claim: “An Investigative Post review of state records found inspectors have visited JKLM’s drilling sites 20 times in the past three years and cited the company for violations each and every time…”

This claim is patently false — and it’s not just a little stretch of the truth, either. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) compliance report database actually shows that the agency inspected JKLM’s well sites 636 times from 2015 to March 16, 2018.

Screenshot of DEP compliance report from EID search

The inaccuracy of Heaney’s reporting can be traced to the fact that he searched for “Inspections With Violations Only,” which resulted in, as the search criteria implies, the database only pulling those inspections that resulted in violations.

While it’s important that companies strive to reduce incidents on site – whether those be issues with paperwork or the results of human or equipment error – three percent of inspections resulting in violations is a far cry from the claim DEP “cited the company for violations each and every time” they inspected JKLM in the last three years.

It’s also worth noting that the DEP database is not as straightforward as simply looking at raw numbers, for the simple fact that it includes repetitive entries and does not remove entries entered in error. In fact, one of the violations listed for JKLM clearly states, “This inspection was created in error” by DEP, yet still remains as a searchable violation in the agency’s database.

Further, the violations cited against any company do not necessarily mean that new incidents occurred every time a violation is noted. That’s because every time DEP inspects a well site where a previous violation has been issued and is still being remediated, the database notation for that is inputted as a new violation. Realistically, in the case of JKLM, the violations DEP has issued have been for only eight wells or related infrastructure, and many of the violations are repetitively entered based on previously isolated incidents. Which brings us to the next important point…

#2. The IP report is based on a year-old report from an organization that has been caught fabricating stories about Pennsylvania’s shale industry on more than one occasion.

At the heart of these false claims is a year-old report from anti-fracking organization PennEnvironment that Heaney uses as the basis for his entire “investigative” report.

Not only does PennEnvironment have an obvious agenda to stop shale development – the organization has a website page called, “Don’t Frack Pennsylvania” – but they’ve been caught red-handed fabricating stories to achieve those goals.

Recall back in 2011 when in an attempt to capitalize on the devastation our region experienced from Hurricane Lee, PennEnvironment released an image of a flooded oil and gas rig with the caption, “Here’s more evidence Marcellus Shale drilling pads should NOT be allowed in floodplains.” But as the Harrisburg Patriot-News reported shortly after the image was shared:

“[T]he rig wasn’t in the Marcellus Shale.

“It wasn’t even in the United States.

“’Apologies folks,’ Penn Environment later admitted: the photo was of a flooded rig in Pakistan.”

Similarly, a few months later in 2012, the group tried to pass off an image of a South African pipe releasing treated water as an example of “toxic industrial pollution” from fracking occurring in Pennsylvania.

Not surprisingly, PennEnvironment, and parent organization Environment America, don’t have a much better track record for accuracy in their reports, including the one Heaney relies so heavily on in the IP report. Specifically, PennEnvironment’s report on violations is one they have been repackaging since 2012 with the same issues in each: the reports take data out of context and even go as far as to redefine violations to fit their agenda. From the 2015 version:

“In addition to specifying specific violations, the downloaded file also sorted them into categories: ‘administrative’ or ‘environmental health and safety.’ We discarded Pennsylvania’s categorization as inconsistent and inadequate, and instead ourselves divided the violations into two categories: ‘administrative’ or ‘environmental and health,’ based on the definitions listed in Appendix A.

For PennEnvironment, violations need to be a numbers game and they’ve shown time and again that they take great strides to make the data match their narrative. In quoting their report and members, all Heaney actually did was give PennEnvironment yet another platform to push the group’s clear agenda to ban fracking.

#3. IP misleads on Coudersport resident Melissa Troutman, who is not an unbiased local bystander.

One of IP’s primary sources for the story, Coudersport resident Melissa Troutman, is hardly an unbiased local bystander. Although she is a Potter County resident who happens to have wells being developed near her property, she also has a clear mission to stop shale development in Pennsylvania.

And while her anti-fracking position was pretty evident in her role in founding the outlet Public Herald, it became crystal clear when she recently accepted a position with Earthworks – a group that vehemently opposes fracking and has even proudly equated the process with rape. Notably, disclosure of Troutman’s new job is conveniently missing from the IP report, where she is listed only as a resident and founder of Public Herald.

In the spirit of transparency – both Public Herald and PennEnvironment, which appear to have been the primary sources for the IP report, receive funding from the Colcom Foundation, which has notoriously funded anti-fracking ventures.

Moreover, Troutman doesn’t appear to have been randomly selected by IP to act as a source. In fact, Public Herald and IP actually have some distinct connections that make it hard to believe this wasn’t an orchestrated attack on JKLM Energy.

Public Herald (2013) and IP (2015) were both recipients of the Institute for Nonprofit News’ (formerly the Investigative News Network) INNovation Fund that was established by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. In 2013, Kevin Davis, then-CEO and Director of INN, issued a statement that he was “thrilled” to welcome three new members, including Public Herald, to the INN roster of newsrooms because they represented “the next generation in collaborative, mission-driven newsrooms.”

That encouraged collaboration between members appears to have come to fruition in Tuesday night’s piece – an incredible coincidence considering Davis now sits on the IP Board of Directors.

This is further evidenced by a recent comment Public Herald co-founder Josh Pribanic made on a public Facebook post that alluded to him knowing what content would and wouldn’t be included in the piece and that his outlet was publishing a similar write-up on its heels.

And the coincidences don’t stop there. In the IP report, Heaney directs people to the organization LittleSis, which is a part of the Public Accountability Initiative – another anti-fracking organization that, according to 990s, received over $360,000 for work specifically targeting fracking from the 11th Hour Project. Unsurprisingly, Public Herald also lists 11th Hour Project as a funder for its own “investigative reports” (read: attacks) on JKLM Energy.

One has to wonder if all of this really is just sheer coincidence or if it is a case of collusion and cooperation between anti-fracking organizations.

#4. JKLM Energy is a well-respected and active member of the Potter County community.

In JKLM’s response to the IP report, the company states,

“We’re proud of the work that we continue to accomplish together, and the local benefits that we’re creating, and recognize that it’s a privilege to operate in the communities where we work, invest and grow local jobs. At JKLM, there’s no higher priority than keeping our environment and communities safe.” (emphasis added)

Based on comments from folks like Potter County Commissioner Susan Kefover (D), JKLM’s commitment to the community and environment hasn’t been an empty promise. To IP’s credit, author Jim Heaney did quote Kefover in the report, acknowledging she “termed JKLM Energy an ‘excellent company.’” But that’s only a fraction of what the commissioner actually sent in her statement to the reporter:

“Pennsylvania has some of the highest environmental standards in the nation for air and water quality protection. I value our environment and quality of life here and aggressively work toward preserving it. I also value working with companies such as JKLM who honor, respect, and diligently uphold those same goals.” (emphasis added)

This sentiment was echoed by Coudersport Borough Councilman Wayne Hathaway, who explained to EID,

“I have honestly not seen any reason yet for all of the adverse publicity against JKLM brought on by these activists. The company has made huge investments in our community, including a major donation for the rebuilding of our local pool. Not only have they done that, but they did an incredible job on some of the local roads. They have a lot of truck traffic admittedly, but they’ve improved the roads to much better quality than when they started. I have not seen anything in their operations and activities that would make me speak negatively about JKLM Energy.”

Hathaway is pretty spot on that this entire IP report, where Heaney brings up long remediated incidents and uses outdated (and debunked reports) from anti-fracking organizations to base his claims on, seems to be solely “brought on by these activists,” rather than anything the company has or hasn’t done recently.

Conclusion

Make no mistake – no one is saying that all companies operating in Pennsylvania shouldn’t be striving to improve their records for any and all instances or violations. That’s a given. But to expect “zero risk” from any industry, whether it’s oil and gas or even the media, isn’t realistic. Even Heaney acknowledged this when he told WGRZ, “Yeah, it’s probably impossible not to have some [violations].”

Producing a report that has blatantly false information and a clear agenda against a company that has become an important part of Potter County has no other result than to fuel misinformation and misguided fear. And that’s not helpful to anyone whether they are living in Coudersport or Buffalo.

The post *UPDATE* Investigative Post Misses the Mark on Gas Drilling In Potter County, Pa. appeared first on Energy In Depth.

Source: Energy In Depth

 

*UPDATE* Investigative Post Misses the Mark on Gas Drilling In Potter County, Pa.

UPDATE (5/11/18, 5:00 PM EST): Investigative Post (IP) reporter Jim Heaney has updated his story addressing the false statements EID noted within this original post – but readers wouldn’t know that simply by visiting the IP site. Heaney makes no mention anywhere in the post that he’s made modifications to the report.

The original IP report had a completely false line that read:

 “An Investigative Post review of  state records found inspectors have visited JKLM’s drilling sites 20 times in the past three years and cited the company for violations each and every time…”

The reality being that the Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) inspected JKLM Energy’s well sites more than 600 times since 2015, with only about three percent of inspections resulting in a violation. In what seems to be an effort to correct that inaccurate claim, while still making an equally misleading claim that lacks necessary context, Heaney quietly changed that sentence to:

“Public records show the state Department of Environmental Protection has cited JKLM Energy for 62 regulatory violations found during 20 inspections since 2015…”

Notably, the link to Heaney’s review of the state records — or even an acknowledgement that he was the one to review them — is noticeably absent from the text now.

Interestingly, Heaney makes at least one other correction to the story on the heels of some backlash for misrepresenting Coudersport Borough Councilman Brian Ruane’s comments, adding this line to the report:

“Ruane added, however, that fracking needs to be done responsibly, especially in an area like Potter County, whose economy is reliant in part of tourism and recreation. He and others are concerned, including Melissa Troutman, a local resident and executive director of Public Herald, a nonprofit investigative reporting center that covers the fracking industry.”

In a show of hand to the Keep It In the Ground agenda driving the IP report, Heaney chose not to make another important update to that Ruane addition: Nowhere in the story does it mention that Troutman is now employed by the notoriously anti-fracking organization Earthworks, as EID detailed in the original blog post. Why continue to mislead readers – both regarding what information Heaney’s chosen to include and leave out – unless there is an underlying agenda at play?

 Original Post

In a show of hand to the Keep It In the Ground agenda driving the IP report, Heaney chose not to make another important update to that Ruane addition: Nowhere in the story does it mention that Troutman is now employed by the notoriously anti-fracking organization Earthworks, as EID detailed in the original blog post. Why continue to mislead readers – both regarding what information Heaney’s chosen to include and leave out – unless there is an underlying agenda at play?

Buffalo, N.Y.’s WGRZ recently aired a misleading and inaccurate Investigative Post (IP) report on oil and gas exploration and production company JKLM Energy’s operations and involvement in Potter County, Pa.

While the report offered some balance, the vast majority reads more like a “Keep It In the Ground” (KIITG) agenda-driven attack against JKLM Energy than a legitimate news story, complete with false statements and highly questionable sources.

Here are the top four things to keep in mind when reading the IP report:

#1. IP’s claims are misleading and at times completely false.

The biggest example of KIITG-driven “fake news” in the report is one that’s really the centerpiece for all of Heaney’s claims:

IP Claim: “An Investigative Post review of state records found inspectors have visited JKLM’s drilling sites 20 times in the past three years and cited the company for violations each and every time…”

This claim is patently false — and it’s not just a little stretch of the truth, either. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) compliance report database actually shows that the agency inspected JKLM’s well sites 636 times from 2015 to March 16, 2018.

Screenshot of DEP compliance report from EID search

The inaccuracy of Heaney’s reporting can be traced to the fact that he searched for “Inspections With Violations Only,” which resulted in, as the search criteria implies, the database only pulling those inspections that resulted in violations.

While it’s important that companies strive to reduce incidents on site – whether those be issues with paperwork or the results of human or equipment error – three percent of inspections resulting in violations is a far cry from the claim DEP “cited the company for violations each and every time” they inspected JKLM in the last three years.

It’s also worth noting that the DEP database is not as straightforward as simply looking at raw numbers, for the simple fact that it includes repetitive entries and does not remove entries entered in error. In fact, one of the violations listed for JKLM clearly states, “This inspection was created in error” by DEP, yet still remains as a searchable violation in the agency’s database.

Further, the violations cited against any company do not necessarily mean that new incidents occurred every time a violation is noted. That’s because every time DEP inspects a well site where a previous violation has been issued and is still being remediated, the database notation for that is inputted as a new violation. Realistically, in the case of JKLM, the violations DEP has issued have been for only eight wells or related infrastructure, and many of the violations are repetitively entered based on previously isolated incidents. Which brings us to the next important point…

#2. The IP report is based on a year-old report from an organization that has been caught fabricating stories about Pennsylvania’s shale industry on more than one occasion.

At the heart of these false claims is a year-old report from anti-fracking organization PennEnvironment that Heaney uses as the basis for his entire “investigative” report.

Not only does PennEnvironment have an obvious agenda to stop shale development – the organization has a website page called, “Don’t Frack Pennsylvania” – but they’ve been caught red-handed fabricating stories to achieve those goals.

Recall back in 2011 when in an attempt to capitalize on the devastation our region experienced from Hurricane Lee, PennEnvironment released an image of a flooded oil and gas rig with the caption, “Here’s more evidence Marcellus Shale drilling pads should NOT be allowed in floodplains.” But as the Harrisburg Patriot-News reported shortly after the image was shared:

“[T]he rig wasn’t in the Marcellus Shale.

“It wasn’t even in the United States.

“’Apologies folks,’ Penn Environment later admitted: the photo was of a flooded rig in Pakistan.”

Similarly, a few months later in 2012, the group tried to pass off an image of a South African pipe releasing treated water as an example of “toxic industrial pollution” from fracking occurring in Pennsylvania.

Not surprisingly, PennEnvironment, and parent organization Environment America, don’t have a much better track record for accuracy in their reports, including the one Heaney relies so heavily on in the IP report. Specifically, PennEnvironment’s report on violations is one they have been repackaging since 2012 with the same issues in each: the reports take data out of context and even go as far as to redefine violations to fit their agenda. From the 2015 version:

“In addition to specifying specific violations, the downloaded file also sorted them into categories: ‘administrative’ or ‘environmental health and safety.’ We discarded Pennsylvania’s categorization as inconsistent and inadequate, and instead ourselves divided the violations into two categories: ‘administrative’ or ‘environmental and health,’ based on the definitions listed in Appendix A.

For PennEnvironment, violations need to be a numbers game and they’ve shown time and again that they take great strides to make the data match their narrative. In quoting their report and members, all Heaney actually did was give PennEnvironment yet another platform to push the group’s clear agenda to ban fracking.

#3. IP misleads on Coudersport resident Melissa Troutman, who is not an unbiased local bystander.

One of IP’s primary sources for the story, Coudersport resident Melissa Troutman, is hardly an unbiased local bystander. Although she is a Potter County resident who happens to have wells being developed near her property, she also has a clear mission to stop shale development in Pennsylvania.

And while her anti-fracking position was pretty evident in her role in founding the outlet Public Herald, it became crystal clear when she recently accepted a position with Earthworks – a group that vehemently opposes fracking and has even proudly equated the process with rape. Notably, disclosure of Troutman’s new job is conveniently missing from the IP report, where she is listed only as a resident and founder of Public Herald.

In the spirit of transparency – both Public Herald and PennEnvironment, which appear to have been the primary sources for the IP report, receive funding from the Colcom Foundation, which has notoriously funded anti-fracking ventures.

Moreover, Troutman doesn’t appear to have been randomly selected by IP to act as a source. In fact, Public Herald and IP actually have some distinct connections that make it hard to believe this wasn’t an orchestrated attack on JKLM Energy.

Public Herald (2013) and IP (2015) were both recipients of the Institute for Nonprofit News’ (formerly the Investigative News Network) INNovation Fund that was established by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. In 2013, Kevin Davis, then-CEO and Director of INN, issued a statement that he was “thrilled” to welcome three new members, including Public Herald, to the INN roster of newsrooms because they represented “the next generation in collaborative, mission-driven newsrooms.”

That encouraged collaboration between members appears to have come to fruition in Tuesday night’s piece – an incredible coincidence considering Davis now sits on the IP Board of Directors.

This is further evidenced by a recent comment Public Herald co-founder Josh Pribanic made on a public Facebook post that alluded to him knowing what content would and wouldn’t be included in the piece and that his outlet was publishing a similar write-up on its heels.

And the coincidences don’t stop there. In the IP report, Heaney directs people to the organization LittleSis, which is a part of the Public Accountability Initiative – another anti-fracking organization that, according to 990s, received over $360,000 for work specifically targeting fracking from the 11th Hour Project. Unsurprisingly, Public Herald also lists 11th Hour Project as a funder for its own “investigative reports” (read: attacks) on JKLM Energy.

One has to wonder if all of this really is just sheer coincidence or if it is a case of collusion and cooperation between anti-fracking organizations.

#4. JKLM Energy is a well-respected and active member of the Potter County community.

In JKLM’s response to the IP report, the company states,

“We’re proud of the work that we continue to accomplish together, and the local benefits that we’re creating, and recognize that it’s a privilege to operate in the communities where we work, invest and grow local jobs. At JKLM, there’s no higher priority than keeping our environment and communities safe.” (emphasis added)

Based on comments from folks like Potter County Commissioner Susan Kefover (D), JKLM’s commitment to the community and environment hasn’t been an empty promise. To IP’s credit, author Jim Heaney did quote Kefover in the report, acknowledging she “termed JKLM Energy an ‘excellent company.’” But that’s only a fraction of what the commissioner actually sent in her statement to the reporter:

“Pennsylvania has some of the highest environmental standards in the nation for air and water quality protection. I value our environment and quality of life here and aggressively work toward preserving it. I also value working with companies such as JKLM who honor, respect, and diligently uphold those same goals.” (emphasis added)

This sentiment was echoed by Coudersport Borough Councilman Wayne Hathaway, who explained to EID,

“I have honestly not seen any reason yet for all of the adverse publicity against JKLM brought on by these activists. The company has made huge investments in our community, including a major donation for the rebuilding of our local pool. Not only have they done that, but they did an incredible job on some of the local roads. They have a lot of truck traffic admittedly, but they’ve improved the roads to much better quality than when they started. I have not seen anything in their operations and activities that would make me speak negatively about JKLM Energy.”

Hathaway is pretty spot on that this entire IP report, where Heaney brings up long remediated incidents and uses outdated (and debunked reports) from anti-fracking organizations to base his claims on, seems to be solely “brought on by these activists,” rather than anything the company has or hasn’t done recently.

Conclusion

Make no mistake – no one is saying that all companies operating in Pennsylvania shouldn’t be striving to improve their records for any and all instances or violations. That’s a given. But to expect “zero risk” from any industry, whether it’s oil and gas or even the media, isn’t realistic. Even Heaney acknowledged this when he told WGRZ, “Yeah, it’s probably impossible not to have some [violations].”

Producing a report that has blatantly false information and a clear agenda against a company that has become an important part of Potter County has no other result than to fuel misinformation and misguided fear. And that’s not helpful to anyone whether they are living in Coudersport or Buffalo.

The post *UPDATE* Investigative Post Misses the Mark on Gas Drilling In Potter County, Pa. appeared first on Energy In Depth.

Source: Energy In Depth

 

*UPDATE* Investigative Post Misses the Mark on Gas Drilling In Potter County, Pa.

UPDATE (5/11/18, 5:00 PM EST): Investigative Post (IP) reporter Jim Heaney has updated his story addressing the false statements EID noted within this original post – but readers wouldn’t know that simply by visiting the IP site. Heaney makes no mention anywhere in the post that he’s made modifications to the report.

The original IP report had a completely false line that read:

 “An Investigative Post review of  state records found inspectors have visited JKLM’s drilling sites 20 times in the past three years and cited the company for violations each and every time…”

The reality being that the Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) inspected JKLM Energy’s well sites more than 600 times since 2015, with only about three percent of inspections resulting in a violation. In what seems to be an effort to correct that inaccurate claim, while still making an equally misleading claim that lacks necessary context, Heaney quietly changed that sentence to:

“Public records show the state Department of Environmental Protection has cited JKLM Energy for 62 regulatory violations found during 20 inspections since 2015…”

Notably, the link to Heaney’s review of the state records — or even an acknowledgement that he was the one to review them — is noticeably absent from the text now.

Interestingly, Heaney makes at least one other correction to the story on the heels of some backlash for misrepresenting Coudersport Borough Councilman Brian Ruane’s comments, adding this line to the report:

“Ruane added, however, that fracking needs to be done responsibly, especially in an area like Potter County, whose economy is reliant in part of tourism and recreation. He and others are concerned, including Melissa Troutman, a local resident and executive director of Public Herald, a nonprofit investigative reporting center that covers the fracking industry.”

In a show of hand to the Keep It In the Ground agenda driving the IP report, Heaney chose not to make another important update to that Ruane addition: Nowhere in the story does it mention that Troutman is now employed by the notoriously anti-fracking organization Earthworks, as EID detailed in the original blog post. Why continue to mislead readers – both regarding what information Heaney’s chosen to include and leave out – unless there is an underlying agenda at play?

 Original Post

In a show of hand to the Keep It In the Ground agenda driving the IP report, Heaney chose not to make another important update to that Ruane addition: Nowhere in the story does it mention that Troutman is now employed by the notoriously anti-fracking organization Earthworks, as EID detailed in the original blog post. Why continue to mislead readers – both regarding what information Heaney’s chosen to include and leave out – unless there is an underlying agenda at play?

Buffalo, N.Y.’s WGRZ recently aired a misleading and inaccurate Investigative Post (IP) report on oil and gas exploration and production company JKLM Energy’s operations and involvement in Potter County, Pa.

While the report offered some balance, the vast majority reads more like a “Keep It In the Ground” (KIITG) agenda-driven attack against JKLM Energy than a legitimate news story, complete with false statements and highly questionable sources.

Here are the top four things to keep in mind when reading the IP report:

#1. IP’s claims are misleading and at times completely false.

The biggest example of KIITG-driven “fake news” in the report is one that’s really the centerpiece for all of Heaney’s claims:

IP Claim: “An Investigative Post review of state records found inspectors have visited JKLM’s drilling sites 20 times in the past three years and cited the company for violations each and every time…”

This claim is patently false — and it’s not just a little stretch of the truth, either. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) compliance report database actually shows that the agency inspected JKLM’s well sites 636 times from 2015 to March 16, 2018.

Screenshot of DEP compliance report from EID search

The inaccuracy of Heaney’s reporting can be traced to the fact that he searched for “Inspections With Violations Only,” which resulted in, as the search criteria implies, the database only pulling those inspections that resulted in violations.

While it’s important that companies strive to reduce incidents on site – whether those be issues with paperwork or the results of human or equipment error – three percent of inspections resulting in violations is a far cry from the claim DEP “cited the company for violations each and every time” they inspected JKLM in the last three years.

It’s also worth noting that the DEP database is not as straightforward as simply looking at raw numbers, for the simple fact that it includes repetitive entries and does not remove entries entered in error. In fact, one of the violations listed for JKLM clearly states, “This inspection was created in error” by DEP, yet still remains as a searchable violation in the agency’s database.

Further, the violations cited against any company do not necessarily mean that new incidents occurred every time a violation is noted. That’s because every time DEP inspects a well site where a previous violation has been issued and is still being remediated, the database notation for that is inputted as a new violation. Realistically, in the case of JKLM, the violations DEP has issued have been for only eight wells or related infrastructure, and many of the violations are repetitively entered based on previously isolated incidents. Which brings us to the next important point…

#2. The IP report is based on a year-old report from an organization that has been caught fabricating stories about Pennsylvania’s shale industry on more than one occasion.

At the heart of these false claims is a year-old report from anti-fracking organization PennEnvironment that Heaney uses as the basis for his entire “investigative” report.

Not only does PennEnvironment have an obvious agenda to stop shale development – the organization has a website page called, “Don’t Frack Pennsylvania” – but they’ve been caught red-handed fabricating stories to achieve those goals.

Recall back in 2011 when in an attempt to capitalize on the devastation our region experienced from Hurricane Lee, PennEnvironment released an image of a flooded oil and gas rig with the caption, “Here’s more evidence Marcellus Shale drilling pads should NOT be allowed in floodplains.” But as the Harrisburg Patriot-News reported shortly after the image was shared:

“[T]he rig wasn’t in the Marcellus Shale.

“It wasn’t even in the United States.

“’Apologies folks,’ Penn Environment later admitted: the photo was of a flooded rig in Pakistan.”

Similarly, a few months later in 2012, the group tried to pass off an image of a South African pipe releasing treated water as an example of “toxic industrial pollution” from fracking occurring in Pennsylvania.

Not surprisingly, PennEnvironment, and parent organization Environment America, don’t have a much better track record for accuracy in their reports, including the one Heaney relies so heavily on in the IP report. Specifically, PennEnvironment’s report on violations is one they have been repackaging since 2012 with the same issues in each: the reports take data out of context and even go as far as to redefine violations to fit their agenda. From the 2015 version:

“In addition to specifying specific violations, the downloaded file also sorted them into categories: ‘administrative’ or ‘environmental health and safety.’ We discarded Pennsylvania’s categorization as inconsistent and inadequate, and instead ourselves divided the violations into two categories: ‘administrative’ or ‘environmental and health,’ based on the definitions listed in Appendix A.

For PennEnvironment, violations need to be a numbers game and they’ve shown time and again that they take great strides to make the data match their narrative. In quoting their report and members, all Heaney actually did was give PennEnvironment yet another platform to push the group’s clear agenda to ban fracking.

#3. IP misleads on Coudersport resident Melissa Troutman, who is not an unbiased local bystander.

One of IP’s primary sources for the story, Coudersport resident Melissa Troutman, is hardly an unbiased local bystander. Although she is a Potter County resident who happens to have wells being developed near her property, she also has a clear mission to stop shale development in Pennsylvania.

And while her anti-fracking position was pretty evident in her role in founding the outlet Public Herald, it became crystal clear when she recently accepted a position with Earthworks – a group that vehemently opposes fracking and has even proudly equated the process with rape. Notably, disclosure of Troutman’s new job is conveniently missing from the IP report, where she is listed only as a resident and founder of Public Herald.

In the spirit of transparency – both Public Herald and PennEnvironment, which appear to have been the primary sources for the IP report, receive funding from the Colcom Foundation, which has notoriously funded anti-fracking ventures.

Moreover, Troutman doesn’t appear to have been randomly selected by IP to act as a source. In fact, Public Herald and IP actually have some distinct connections that make it hard to believe this wasn’t an orchestrated attack on JKLM Energy.

Public Herald (2013) and IP (2015) were both recipients of the Institute for Nonprofit News’ (formerly the Investigative News Network) INNovation Fund that was established by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. In 2013, Kevin Davis, then-CEO and Director of INN, issued a statement that he was “thrilled” to welcome three new members, including Public Herald, to the INN roster of newsrooms because they represented “the next generation in collaborative, mission-driven newsrooms.”

That encouraged collaboration between members appears to have come to fruition in Tuesday night’s piece – an incredible coincidence considering Davis now sits on the IP Board of Directors.

This is further evidenced by a recent comment Public Herald co-founder Josh Pribanic made on a public Facebook post that alluded to him knowing what content would and wouldn’t be included in the piece and that his outlet was publishing a similar write-up on its heels.

And the coincidences don’t stop there. In the IP report, Heaney directs people to the organization LittleSis, which is a part of the Public Accountability Initiative – another anti-fracking organization that, according to 990s, received over $360,000 for work specifically targeting fracking from the 11th Hour Project. Unsurprisingly, Public Herald also lists 11th Hour Project as a funder for its own “investigative reports” (read: attacks) on JKLM Energy.

One has to wonder if all of this really is just sheer coincidence or if it is a case of collusion and cooperation between anti-fracking organizations.

#4. JKLM Energy is a well-respected and active member of the Potter County community.

In JKLM’s response to the IP report, the company states,

“We’re proud of the work that we continue to accomplish together, and the local benefits that we’re creating, and recognize that it’s a privilege to operate in the communities where we work, invest and grow local jobs. At JKLM, there’s no higher priority than keeping our environment and communities safe.” (emphasis added)

Based on comments from folks like Potter County Commissioner Susan Kefover (D), JKLM’s commitment to the community and environment hasn’t been an empty promise. To IP’s credit, author Jim Heaney did quote Kefover in the report, acknowledging she “termed JKLM Energy an ‘excellent company.’” But that’s only a fraction of what the commissioner actually sent in her statement to the reporter:

“Pennsylvania has some of the highest environmental standards in the nation for air and water quality protection. I value our environment and quality of life here and aggressively work toward preserving it. I also value working with companies such as JKLM who honor, respect, and diligently uphold those same goals.” (emphasis added)

This sentiment was echoed by Coudersport Borough Councilman Wayne Hathaway, who explained to EID,

“I have honestly not seen any reason yet for all of the adverse publicity against JKLM brought on by these activists. The company has made huge investments in our community, including a major donation for the rebuilding of our local pool. Not only have they done that, but they did an incredible job on some of the local roads. They have a lot of truck traffic admittedly, but they’ve improved the roads to much better quality than when they started. I have not seen anything in their operations and activities that would make me speak negatively about JKLM Energy.”

Hathaway is pretty spot on that this entire IP report, where Heaney brings up long remediated incidents and uses outdated (and debunked reports) from anti-fracking organizations to base his claims on, seems to be solely “brought on by these activists,” rather than anything the company has or hasn’t done recently.

Conclusion

Make no mistake – no one is saying that all companies operating in Pennsylvania shouldn’t be striving to improve their records for any and all instances or violations. That’s a given. But to expect “zero risk” from any industry, whether it’s oil and gas or even the media, isn’t realistic. Even Heaney acknowledged this when he told WGRZ, “Yeah, it’s probably impossible not to have some [violations].”

Producing a report that has blatantly false information and a clear agenda against a company that has become an important part of Potter County has no other result than to fuel misinformation and misguided fear. And that’s not helpful to anyone whether they are living in Coudersport or Buffalo.

The post *UPDATE* Investigative Post Misses the Mark on Gas Drilling In Potter County, Pa. appeared first on Energy In Depth.

Source: Energy In Depth

 

Investigative Post Misses the Mark on Gas Drilling In Potter County, Pa.

Buffalo, N.Y.’s WGRZ recently aired a misleading and inaccurate Investigative Post (IP) report on oil and gas exploration and production company JKLM Energy’s operations and involvement in Potter County, Pa.

While the report offered some balance, the vast majority reads more like a “Keep It In the Ground” (KIITG) agenda-driven attack against JKLM Energy than a legitimate news story, complete with false statements and highly questionable sources.

Here are the top four things to keep in mind when reading the IP report:

#1. IP’s claims are misleading and at times completely false.

The biggest example of KIITG-driven “fake news” in the report is one that’s really the centerpiece for all of Heaney’s claims:

IP Claim: “An Investigative Post review of state records found inspectors have visited JKLM’s drilling sites 20 times in the past three years and cited the company for violations each and every time…”

This claim is patently false — and it’s not just a little stretch of the truth, either. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) compliance report database actually shows that the agency inspected JKLM’s well sites 636 times from 2015 to March 16, 2018.

Screenshot of DEP compliance report from EID search

The inaccuracy of Heaney’s reporting can be traced to the fact that he searched for “Inspections With Violations Only,” which resulted in, as the search criteria implies, the database only pulling those inspections that resulted in violations.

While it’s important that companies strive to reduce incidents on site – whether those be issues with paperwork or the results of human or equipment error – three percent of inspections resulting in violations is a far cry from the claim DEP “cited the company for violations each and every time” they inspected JKLM in the last three years.

It’s also worth noting that the DEP database is not as straightforward as simply looking at raw numbers, for the simple fact that it includes repetitive entries and does not remove entries entered in error. In fact, one of the violations listed for JKLM clearly states, “This inspection was created in error” by DEP, yet still remains as a searchable violation in the agency’s database.

Further, the violations cited against any company do not necessarily mean that new incidents occurred every time a violation is noted. That’s because every time DEP inspects a well site where a previous violation has been issued and is still being remediated, the database notation for that is inputted as a new violation. Realistically, in the case of JKLM, the violations DEP has issued have been for only eight wells or related infrastructure, and many of the violations are repetitively entered based on previously isolated incidents. Which brings us to the next important point…

#2. The IP report is based on a year-old report from an organization that has been caught fabricating stories about Pennsylvania’s shale industry on more than one occasion.

At the heart of these false claims is a year-old report from anti-fracking organization PennEnvironment that Heaney uses as the basis for his entire “investigative” report.

Not only does PennEnvironment have an obvious agenda to stop shale development – the organization has a website page called, “Don’t Frack Pennsylvania” – but they’ve been caught red-handed fabricating stories to achieve those goals.

Recall back in 2011 when in an attempt to capitalize on the devastation our region experienced from Hurricane Lee, PennEnvironment released an image of a flooded oil and gas rig with the caption, “Here’s more evidence Marcellus Shale drilling pads should NOT be allowed in floodplains.” But as the Harrisburg Patriot-News reported shortly after the image was shared:

“[T]he rig wasn’t in the Marcellus Shale.

“It wasn’t even in the United States.

“’Apologies folks,’ Penn Environment later admitted: the photo was of a flooded rig in Pakistan.”

Similarly, a few months later in 2012, the group tried to pass off an image of a South African pipe releasing treated water as an example of “toxic industrial pollution” from fracking occurring in Pennsylvania.

Not surprisingly, PennEnvironment, and parent organization Environment America, don’t have a much better track record for accuracy in their reports, including the one Heaney relies so heavily on in the IP report. Specifically, PennEnvironment’s report on violations is one they have been repackaging since 2012 with the same issues in each: the reports take data out of context and even go as far as to redefine violations to fit their agenda. From the 2015 version:

“In addition to specifying specific violations, the downloaded file also sorted them into categories: ‘administrative’ or ‘environmental health and safety.’ We discarded Pennsylvania’s categorization as inconsistent and inadequate, and instead ourselves divided the violations into two categories: ‘administrative’ or ‘environmental and health,’ based on the definitions listed in Appendix A.

For PennEnvironment, violations need to be a numbers game and they’ve shown time and again that they take great strides to make the data match their narrative. In quoting their report and members, all Heaney actually did was give PennEnvironment yet another platform to push the group’s clear agenda to ban fracking.

#3. IP misleads on Coudersport resident Melissa Troutman, who is not an unbiased local bystander.

One of IP’s primary sources for the story, Coudersport resident Melissa Troutman, is hardly an unbiased local bystander. Although she is a Potter County resident who happens to have wells being developed near her property, she also has a clear mission to stop shale development in Pennsylvania.

And while her anti-fracking position was pretty evident in her role in founding the outlet Public Herald, it became crystal clear when she recently accepted a position with Earthworks – a group that vehemently opposes fracking and has even proudly equated the process with rape. Notably, disclosure of Troutman’s new job is conveniently missing from the IP report, where she is listed only as a resident and founder of Public Herald.

In the spirit of transparency – both Public Herald and PennEnvironment, which appear to have been the primary sources for the IP report, receive funding from the Colcom Foundation, which has notoriously funded anti-fracking ventures.

Moreover, Troutman doesn’t appear to have been randomly selected by IP to act as a source. In fact, Public Herald and IP actually have some distinct connections that make it hard to believe this wasn’t an orchestrated attack on JKLM Energy.

Public Herald (2013) and IP (2015) were both recipients of the Institute for Nonprofit News’ (formerly the Investigative News Network) INNovation Fund that was established by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. In 2013, Kevin Davis, then-CEO and Director of INN, issued a statement that he was “thrilled” to welcome three new members, including Public Herald, to the INN roster of newsrooms because they represented “the next generation in collaborative, mission-driven newsrooms.”

That encouraged collaboration between members appears to have come to fruition in Tuesday night’s piece – an incredible coincidence considering Davis now sits on the IP Board of Directors.

This is further evidenced by a recent comment Public Herald co-founder Josh Pribanic made on a public Facebook post that alluded to him knowing what content would and wouldn’t be included in the piece and that his outlet was publishing a similar write-up on its heels.

And the coincidences don’t stop there. In the IP report, Heaney directs people to the organization LittleSis, which is a part of the Public Accountability Initiative – another anti-fracking organization that, according to 990s, received over $360,000 for work specifically targeting fracking from the 11th Hour Project. Unsurprisingly, Public Herald also lists 11th Hour Project as a funder for its own “investigative reports” (read: attacks) on JKLM Energy.

One has to wonder if all of this really is just sheer coincidence or if it is a case of collusion and cooperation between anti-fracking organizations.

#4. JKLM Energy is a well-respected and active member of the Potter County community.

In JKLM’s response to the IP report, the company states,

“We’re proud of the work that we continue to accomplish together, and the local benefits that we’re creating, and recognize that it’s a privilege to operate in the communities where we work, invest and grow local jobs. At JKLM, there’s no higher priority than keeping our environment and communities safe.” (emphasis added)

Based on comments from folks like Potter County Commissioner Susan Kefover (D), JKLM’s commitment to the community and environment hasn’t been an empty promise. To IP’s credit, author Jim Heaney did quote Kefover in the report, acknowledging she “termed JKLM Energy an ‘excellent company.’” But that’s only a fraction of what the commissioner actually sent in her statement to the reporter:

“Pennsylvania has some of the highest environmental standards in the nation for air and water quality protection. I value our environment and quality of life here and aggressively work toward preserving it. I also value working with companies such as JKLM who honor, respect, and diligently uphold those same goals.” (emphasis added)

This sentiment was echoed by Coudersport Borough Councilman Wayne Hathaway, who explained to EID,

“I have honestly not seen any reason yet for all of the adverse publicity against JKLM brought on by these activists. The company has made huge investments in our community, including a major donation for the rebuilding of our local pool. Not only have they done that, but they did an incredible job on some of the local roads. They have a lot of truck traffic admittedly, but they’ve improved the roads to much better quality than when they started. I have not seen anything in their operations and activities that would make me speak negatively about JKLM Energy.”

Hathaway is pretty spot on that this entire IP report, where Heaney brings up long remediated incidents and uses outdated (and debunked reports) from anti-fracking organizations to base his claims on, seems to be solely “brought on by these activists,” rather than anything the company has or hasn’t done recently.

Conclusion

Make no mistake – no one is saying that all companies operating in Pennsylvania shouldn’t be striving to improve their records for any and all instances or violations. That’s a given. But to expect “zero risk” from any industry, whether it’s oil and gas or even the media, isn’t realistic. Even Heaney acknowledged this when he told WGRZ, “Yeah, it’s probably impossible not to have some [violations].”

Producing a report that has blatantly false information and a clear agenda against a company that has become an important part of Potter County has no other result than to fuel misinformation and misguided fear. And that’s not helpful to anyone whether they are living in Coudersport or Buffalo.

The post Investigative Post Misses the Mark on Gas Drilling In Potter County, Pa. appeared first on Energy In Depth.

Source: Energy In Depth

 

Activist Researchers Try (and Fail) to Revive Debunked Pavillion Water Contamination Narrative

An activist research team responsible for a myriad of studies that have repeatedly failed to link fracking to health problems outdid itself recently, releasing a study that attempts to revive the long-debunked narrative that fracking has contaminated groundwater in Pavillion, Wyo. — even though the report plainly states that the water samples collected for the study found no evidence to support such a conclusion.

Buried on the fourth page of the report is the fact that of the 22 water samples taken from locations near unconventional Pavillion natural gas production, and a separate Wyoming conventional oil and gas producing region, “no samples exhibited significant toxicity.”

This completely contradicts a Casper Star-Tribune story that states the researchers “found evidence for groundwater contamination from both types of drilling,” a characterization that was apparently conveyed to the paper by study co-author Christopher Kassotis, who was interviewed for the Star-Tribune story.

That’s just one of a number of glaring flaws in this latest report by the research team of Kassotis and University of Missouri activist researcher Susan Nagel that desperately tries (and fails) to link fracking to endocrine disruption issues. Here are three other things to know about this study.

#1. Contrary to co-author’s claim, the endocrine-disrupting volatile organic compounds (VOCs) detected in the Pavillion samples were not exclusive to fracking fluid

Kassotis’ comments in the Star-Tribune story indicate that the researchers concluded their Pavillion water samples included endocrine-disrupting volatile organic compounds (VOCs) — 2-ethylhex-anol, naphthalene and styrene — that can only be traced to fracking fluid. Kassotis told the Star-Tribune:

“There are really no other known progesterone antagonists [disruptors] in the environment.’ than those from fracking fluids. “The only other is RU 486 – the morning after pill. Traces [of RU 486] might show up in sewage water, but that’s not at high levels and that’s not common.”

However, the language used in the study was much more tepid and less absolute than the verbiage Kassotis chose to use in the Star-Tribune interview. And for good reason — these VOCs are not exclusive to fracking fluid at all, and the study itself comes right out and says it. From the report:

“While BTEX constituents also are associated with petroleum and could be present due to UOG or COG operations, 2-ethylhex-anol, naphthalene, and styrene are not and could suggest UOG-sourced contamination in Pavillion. “Importantly, these chemicals are all utilized for non-oil and gas operation purposes as well, including gasoline, detergents, cosmetics and personal care products, chemical precursors, and other purposes, and thus could be present at these sites due to non-UOG/COG operations.”

Further confirming the fact that 2-ethylhexanol, naphthalene and styrene are not specific to unconventional development (i.e. fracking fluid), the report also acknowledges that these chemicals were detected in the conventional site samples as well.

“Interestingly, this chemical (2-ethylhexanol) also was detected at 10- to 100-fold lower concentrations at three sites in the conventional gas region. This suggests potential utilization of this chemical for COG operations. This chemical has an application in drilling muds (used to aid in the drilling of boreholes), which could explain the observed presence in the COG region, or could suggest reworking of COG wells to increase production using UOG technologies, or contamination from another source (it also is used as a plasticizer and in some sunscreens).”

The following excerpts from the study illustrate the fact that the narrative the researchers sold to the Star-Tribune was not reflective of what this study actually found.

“Samples from UOG areas tended to exhibit progesterone receptor antagonism more often, suggesting there may be a UOG-related impact on these endocrine activities. We also report UOG-specific contaminants in Pavillion groundwater extracts, and these same chemicals at high concentrations in a local UOG wastewater sample.”

“Future research should attempt to link more directly the identified chemicals to specific anthropogenic environmental inputs.”

“In conclusion, we report increased UOG-associated VOCs in the Pavillion groundwater extracts and these chemicals at high concentrations in a local UOG waste-water sample. We also observed a tendency for increased ER and PR antagonism at UOG sites relative to controls and greater ER antagonism relative to the conventional gas region, suggesting a putative UOG impact on the endocrine activities at these sites, although future research is needed to identify the specific contaminants promoting the observed bioactivities.”

The inconclusive nature of these findings can be partially traced to the fact that this was a pilot study, also known as a screening study, meaning that it is only intended to form a hypothesis and is not intended to draw concrete conclusions. That said, it’s not clear as to why such a study would be actively shopped to the media. But this research team has never hesitated to do just that with similar reports, and this study’s funding sources could explain the motivation.

#2. Study partially funded and conducted by anti-fracking activists

The Star-Tribune also fails to disclose the fact that this study was not only partially funded by an environmental justice group that has made Pavillion a focal point of its anti-oil-and-gas efforts, a well-known anti-fracking activist also personally collected “many” of the water samples used in the study.

The study’s acknowledgements section states:

“The authors greatly thank Deborah Thomas for conducting many of the water sample collection reported herein and for many helpful discussions regarding the region.”

Thomas is a very active member of the Powder River Basin Defense Council, an anti-fossil fuel group based in Wyoming, and is even described as an “activist” by well-known national “Keep It In the Ground” group Earthworks. The study says the following of Thomas’ role in the sample collection process:

“Sites included groundwater sources collected from private land, selected by a local contact who knew the regions and landowners as well as by a word- of-mouth campaign, and were sources used for drinking water whenever possible. Several sites were municipal water sourced from groundwater wells in the region and transported to homes for cistern storage; these samples were included as groundwater in these analyses.”

The acknowledgements section also notes that the study was “supported by funds provided by Coming Clean, Inc.

According to Coming Clean Inc.’s website, the Vermont-based group was “founded in 2001 by environmental health and justice organizers to better unite our movement parts, for a more holistic and effective approach to protecting our health and safety from toxic trespass.  Our mission is to reform the industrial chemical and fossil fuels industries so they are no longer a source of harm, and to secure systemic changes that allow a safe chemical and clean energy economy to flourish.”

And although EID has noted it several times before, it bears repeating that study co-author Susan Nagel actually appealed to anti-fracking activists Josh FoxMark Ruffalo and Yoko Ono to help her team fundraise for their research after their work was rejected by the National Institutes of Health for not being “good enough to be funded.” She also publicly endorsed Gasland in a talk entitled “What the Frack?” in which she called Josh Fox’s completely debunked films “educational” because they contain “a lot of good information.” 

#3. Study included no baseline sampling or sampling from a non-producing region

Pavillion has long had water quality issues that pre-date both fracking and oil and gas development in general.

That said, it would only seem logical for the researchers to have at least included samples from non-drilling areas for comparison with the samples taken in producing regions. But Kassotis told the Casper Star-Tribune, quite plainly, that, “We didn’t have a good non-drilling area in Wyoming to compare to. We don’t have a baseline,” which only adds to the inconclusive nature of the report’s alarmist conclusions.

This explanation has drawn at least one red flag from Petroleum Association of Wyoming vice president John Robitaille, who told Star-Tribune, “There’s no way to tell me that what they found wasn’t there prior to development.”

#4. We’ve seen this one before

EID has noted several times before how activists have spent years pushing fracking contamination claims in Pavillion based on a single draft EPA report from December 2011, which theorized a link between fracking and groundwater contamination. As history recalls, EPA’s theory came under fire almost immediately, as state, federal and industry officials found serious flaws in the data EPA used to support it. At the time, EPA considered contracting independent scientists to further review, but in June 2013, after multiple regulatory officials at the state and federal level had criticized the agency’s findings, the EPA announced it would turn over the work to state regulators in Wyoming.

Post EPA intervention, in 2016, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ) published a landmark report that explains there’s no evidence that fracking contaminated groundwater in Pavillion.

And similar to the “zombie” study being extrapolated in the media today, another study with a stretched conclusion was fleshed out by researchers from GSI Environmental who explained that a 2016 report, which suggested oil and natural gas production contaminated water wells in Pavillion, was based on faulty data.

Conclusion

The cumulative shortcomings of this study are as glaring as they are numerous. The researchers didn’t find any actual water contamination; the EDCs detected are found in numerous other everyday produces; and the study was partially funded and conducted by parties with a clear anti-fracking agenda.

All this said, it’s no wonder why the researchers chose Pavillion as the focal point of this “study,” given its well-documented history a centerpiece in the anti-fracking movement’s fruitless efforts to conclusively tie fracking to water contamination.

But despite this cherry-picking, claims that fracking has contaminated groundwater in Pavillion have long been put to rest, and no fewer than two dozen studies have concluded fracking is not a major threat to groundwater. This study’s data further confirms that fact, despite the authors’ best efforts to manipulate the results.

Wyoming Rep. Lloyd Larsen (R-Lander) might have summed up this effort best when he told the Star-Tribune, “If that was a prospectus and I was a banker lending money, I wouldn’t lend a penny. They’ve not convinced me they’ve done their homework.”

The post Activist Researchers Try (and Fail) to Revive Debunked Pavillion Water Contamination Narrative appeared first on Energy In Depth.

Source: Energy In Depth

 

Peer-Reviewed Study Finds No Groundwater Contamination from Fracking in Ohio

The first ever and award winning Utica Shale study to examine the root source of methane (CH4) linked to fracking has finally been published in a scientific journal. The long awaited multi-year University of Cincinnati (UC) groundwater study that found no impacts from fracking was finally published this week in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Monitoring Assessment – more than two years after researchers first announced its findings. The study was also blessed by the Ohio Environmental Council in 2014 as their recipient for the “Science and Community Award.”

Notably, the study’s topline conclusions echo comments made by the report’s lead researcher and a master thesis that was uncovered by EID two years ago, stating:

“We found no relationship between CH4 concentration or source in groundwater and proximity to active gas well sites.”

“… our data do not indicate any intrusion of high conductivity fracking fluids as the number of fracking wells increased in the region.”

The study further highlights how incredibly important the publication of the findings are, given the fact that it truly is a first-of-its-kind, stating:

“[O]ur study is the first to characterize CH4 sources in groundwater in the Utica Shale drilling region of Ohio, and is one of only a handful of time series studies of CH4 concentration and associated isotopic composition in an oil and gas extraction area.”

While this study is indeed a first for Ohio, this is just one of more than two dozen studies showing that fracking is not a major threat to groundwater, and as EID has previously covered, the report’s now-confirmed topline conclusion is all-the-more noteworthy considering it was partially funded and orchestrated by anti-fracking groups. In fact, the study received over 18 percent of its funding from the anti-fracking Deer Creek Foundation. In other words, it should come as no surprise that the hypothesis was not supported by the facts of the data, and we applaud UC for acknowledging that point as well.

The researchers reveal in the study that:

“We hypothesized that CH4 concentration would increase as the number of shale gas wells in the area increased, with the isotopic composition of CH4 reflecting an increasingly fossil fuel derived natural gas source, and that pH of groundwater would decrease and electrical conductivity would increase due to the presence of acidic, salty hydraulic fracturing fluids in groundwater. We also predicted that groundwater wells located within 1 km of active shale gas wells would have elevated levels of dissolved CH4 with isotopic ratios reflecting a natural gas source, and that groundwater within this ‘active zone’ would have decreased pH and increased electrical conductivity.”

But the data collected from 25 water wells in Carroll, Harrison, Stark, Belmont and Columbiana counties between 2012 and 2015 simply did not support that hypothesis:

Contrary to our hypothesis, we did not see an increase in CH4 concentration or change in isotopic composition of CH4 in groundwater in regularly monitored wells over the study period (Figs. 2 and 3), despite a large increase in the number of producing shale gas wells in our study area (Fig. 1). In fact, we saw a decrease in CH4 concentration in some of our regularly monitored wells, although the number of samples in our time series is relatively small. The low numbers of significant correlations indicate there may be natural variability in concentrations of biogenic CH4 in groundwater in our study area (contrary to our expectation).”

As EID has highlighted numerous times, it was at an anti-fracking Carroll Concerned Citizens meeting more than two years ago that lead researcher and UC professor Amy Townsend-Small announced the study’s findings, stating that,

“I’m really sad to say this but some of our funders, the groups that had given us funding in the past, were a little disappointed in our results. They feel that fracking is scary and so they were hoping our data could point to a reason to ban it.” (emphasis added)

But again to the authors of the UC groundwater study’s credit, they correctly reported what the data they collected indicated even though it was contradictory to their hypothesis. In fact the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) stated,

“This innovative research study is examining the potential effects of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on groundwater in Ohio’s Utica shale. Led by UC geologist Amy Townsend Small, this first-of-a-kind project is testing for the presence of methane (the primary component of natural gas) and its origins in groundwater and drinking water wells before, during, and after the onset of fracking. Other studies have focused on water contamination only after fracking is complete. The project involves the gathering and analysis of water samples in eastern Ohio by UC graduate and undergraduate students.”

The study notes that just 115 drilling permits had been issued in Ohio when the study began in January 2012, and that 1,600 permits had been issued by the study’s conclusion in February 2015. Most of the 180 total samples were collected in Carroll County, which has emerged as the most-drilled Ohio county, seeing shale well counts increase from just three in late 2011 to 354 in 2015, according to the study’s master thesis.

The fact that the samples collected on a “voluntary” basis and based on “landowner interest” — translation: from landowners that were involved with Carroll Concerned Citizens or sympathetic to their efforts — further validates the study’s conclusion. And the findings really couldn’t be clearer: there was no evidence of groundwater contamination attributable to natural gas development in the study area. From the study:

“our data indicate that the dominant source of CH4 in groundwater in the Utica Shale region is biogenic, and that neither the CH4 concentration nor its source change with an increasing number of shale gas wells or with changing distance to shale gas wells.”

EID applauds the UC research team for not only (finally) getting this study published, but not deviating from the original conclusions reported more than two years ago. We now call for those who have claimed fracking is “poisoning” Ohio groundwater (we’re looking at you, Dennis Kucinich) to acknowledge scientific evidence and stop fear-mongering that is driven more by politics than the facts.

 

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Source: Energy In Depth

 

In Defending Calif. Municipalities’ Bonds, Former SEC Official Undermines Climate Lawsuits

The California municipalities accused of misleading their investors on climate change responded last week with a report from a former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) official, who claims that the cities and counties had adequately disclosed the risks of climate change. But in an unanticipated twist, the report also demonstrates how the municipalities may have exaggerated the risks of climate change in their lawsuits against fossil fuel companies.

Continue reading on EID Climate.

The post In Defending Calif. Municipalities’ Bonds, Former SEC Official Undermines Climate Lawsuits appeared first on Energy In Depth.

Source: Energy In Depth

 

In Defending Calif. Municipalities’ Bonds, Former SEC Official Undermines Climate Lawsuits

The California municipalities accused of misleading their investors on climate change responded last week with a report from a former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) official, who claims that the cities and counties had adequately disclosed the risks of climate change. But in an unanticipated twist, the report also demonstrates how the municipalities may have exaggerated the risks of climate change in their lawsuits against fossil fuel companies.

Continue reading on EID Climate.

The post In Defending Calif. Municipalities’ Bonds, Former SEC Official Undermines Climate Lawsuits appeared first on Energy In Depth.

Source: Energy In Depth

 

Denver7 Response to EID Raises Even More Questions on Coverage

We applaud Denver7 for listening to our criticism of their story from earlier this week and responding with a lengthier piece that seeks to provide more perspectives around the key issue of public health near oil and gas operations.

Unfortunately for their viewers, Denver7’s latest piece might simply be called “more of the same.” The piece relies on yet another well-known anti-fossil fuel activist to support their original story, whose ties they failed to disclose, again.

The crux of Denver7’s reporting is that there are health-related concerns in Weld County that some say are tied to oil and gas operations – or in their terms, “fracking sites.” To tell this story, they highlighted one blood test of a child brought forward by a concerned resident in testimony before Colorado state health regulators on Monday.

We responded immediately, noting that Colorado health experts take these claims seriously and have conducted extensive analysis in the region over the years and made those findings public. In fact, earlier this year, EID released a report that detailed these efforts and summarized Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) data. The report also outlined public health indicators in the Weld County region that showed numbers improving.

We also noted that anti-fossil fuel activists have long targeted these public hearings in order to gain press attention, which they’ve succeeded in doing again. We usually find that when these stories are aired, relevant facts and perspective that may discredit anti-fracking claims are often missing, until weeks and months later.

To address our criticisms, Denver7 produced a follow up story as part of their “360 stories” series, which seeks to bring in additional voices and perspectives. Denver7 didn’t actually reach out to EID for comment for their second story, although they did briefly mention our blog post from Tuesday. But, to counter our perspective, they spotlight a doctor they say reached out to them following the airing of their original piece. What they don’t disclose, and what we think is worth mentioning, are the extensive ties this doctor has to anti-fossil fuel groups in Colorado.

New Source, Same Problem

In our first piece, we revealed that the resident that brought the blood test forward, Elizabeth Ewaskowitz, Ph. D., paid a Lafayette doctor to conduct what’s known as a “VOC,” or, volatile organic compounds blood level test on her son. The doctor was not a physician but a Registered Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine based in the Boulder County area. We did point to public information showing Ewaskowitz’s relationship to anti-fossil fuel groups, which Denver7 categorized as an attempt to discredit her and the reporter.

For their second piece, Denver7 featured Dr. John Hughes to offer a medical perspective in the story. Dr. Hughes is currently part of the Martinez lawsuit against the state of Colorado, which seeks to curtail oil and gas operations in the state. Hughes signed on to an amicus curiae brief in support of the plaintiffs alongside the likes of: Kids Against Fracking, 350 Colorado, Frack Free Colorado and Food & Water Watch.

He is also a co-author of a recent report that, on first glance purports to show direct links between oil and gas activity and chronic illness. But a closer look shows this research to be the latest in a series of reports that include numerous shortcomings and have been characterized by health officials as, “research that suggests more research needs to be done, not research that definitively links oil and gas exposure to cancers in this age group.” In fact, the most recent study’s press release states plainly that “[t]he study acknowledged substantial uncertainties and the need for more research.” Energy in Depth has exposed the series for its public attention stunts.

Prior to his work with Dr. Lisa McKenzie, Hughes’ assertions in 2014 were questioned by McKenzie herself — his current co-author — who said the associations being made by Hughes’ research were not able “to make that link,” and suggested that a better study would need to be conducted. Hughes responded that his study “wasn’t meant to be a super-validated study.” But Hughes made his assertions anyway, and even taunted Gov. John Hickenlooper as “Frackenlooper” at the same 2014 forum.

If that’s not enough, he has close ties with Frack Free Colorado. None of these connections were disclosed. Rather, Denver7 simply characterized him as an interested doctor that reached out to them to provide feedback.

So when this doctor makes the statement “the state is in bed with the industry in quite a real way,” having the rest of this information is essential.

Activists to Denver7: “Thank you for being there for us!”

Denver7 apparently didn’t like us raising our suspicion on why they were at the COGCC hearing to begin with. We have repeatedly written that activists use these hearings to capture headlines through various theatrics and stunts. We attend a lot of these meetings, and don’t usually see TV cameras, so when Denver7 just happened to be on hand for this presentation, of course we were suspicious.

That said, Denver7 made clear in their latest report that they did not know Ewaskowitz would be at the meeting, and visa-versa. We are happy to correct the record about why they were on hand for the COGCC hearing.

Either way, anti-fracking activists sure seemed to appreciate Denver7’s reporting, writing on Facebook about the first story, “Also worth noting, channel 7 news has been consistently voicing our concerns when they can. Denver7 thank you for being there for us!”

­­Conclusion

Getting this story right is of utmost importance. Issues surrounding public health are a key priority not only for Energy in Depth, but for the industry as a whole. In fact, that is why EID launched a microsite dedicated to public health issues this year and have released two comprehensive reports that feature unbiased data from state and local governments and health officials.

That is also why EID is quick to hold Denver7 accountable in its reporting. The first story failed to provide key information, including the constant health monitoring conducted by state regulators, frequent on-ground responses by the CDPHE when residents raise concerns, and also, basic background on the “doctor” involved in the initial testing. The same can be said of the second piece. Simply disclosing all relevant information can help viewers make up their own mind about the credibility of the source used, and the claims presented.

We look forward to hearing about CDPHE’s findings on this issue. Ewaskowitz told Denver7 she has filed formal complaints with the CDPHE and COGCC. She also mentioned she was “surprised at how quickly they followed up,” so it’s clear that Colorado’s state regulators are taking her case seriously and diving right in to determine the cause of her son’s elevated VOC levels.

Denver7’s “360” segment purports to cover both sides, but still misses the mark by not providing, as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story.” By quoting Hughes as an unbiased third-party source without researching or disclosing his strong ties to anti-fossil fuel activists and his own personal history of activism and statements, Denver7 offers less than a full airing of differing opinions in its reporting.

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Source: Energy In Depth