Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Gasland Gives Energy Companies Gas of the Propaganda kind

Production year: 2010
Country: USA
Runtime: 107 mins
Director: Josh Fox

Gasland, on hydraulic fracting for natural gas using chemicals and massive amounts of water, pressure and heat, and resulting in faucets in homes catching on fire, a complete bastardization of what it means to use precaution when furthering any industrial or resource extraction cause. Here's the trailer.

And, apropos is the Oscars tonight, and the gas-energy-Haliburton lobby propagandists who have been on a campaign of bizarre proportions, trying to get the film taken off the Academy Award list for best documentary.

Here's more on these Cheney-inspired cretins:

The Guardian --

There is no such thing as bad publicity. But the PR adage seems to have been overlooked by America's energy lobby, whose attacks on a documentary on natural gas drilling have dramatically raised the film's pre-Oscar buzz.

The attacks – including a demand to strike the film, Gasland, from Oscar contention –have brought a fresh burst of public attention to the documentary as well as its subject, a controversial method of natural gas extraction known as hydraulic fracturing.

In the countdown to the 27 February awards ceremony, Energy in Depth, an industry lobbying group set up by Halliburton, BP, Shell and other companies, has stepped up its attacks on Gasland.

The attention has been a bonanza for the film-maker, Josh Fox. Gasland – though it became a sensation online for scenes of flames shooting out of a kitchen tap – had only a very limited commercial release. He has noted Energy in Depth on his Facebook page and elsewhere to help publicise the film.

But the inadvertent consequences of their campaign does not appear to have given Energy in Depth much pause.

Last Thursday, the organisation – which has a whole section devoted to Gasland on its website – took a swipe at Fox and the actor, Mark Ruffalo, who is also up for an Oscar, for visiting Congress to support a bill for government regulation of hydraulic fracturing.

***********************read more at the Guardian****************

or, better, a blog,


DeSmogBlog has uncovered an industry memo revealing that ‘Energy In Depth’ is hardly comprised of the mom-and-pop “small, independent oil and natural gas producers” it claims to represent. In fact, the industry memo we found, entitled “Hydraulic Fracturing Under Attack,” shows that Energy In Depth “would not be possible without the early financial commitments” of major oil and gas interests including BP, Halliburton, Chevron, Shell, XTO Energy (now owned by ExxonMobil), and several other huge oil and gas companies that provided significant funding early on and presumably still fund the group's efforts.

According to the 2009 memo, Energy In Depth was orchestrated as a “major initiative to respond to…attacks” and to devise and circulate “coordinated messages” using “new communications tools that are becoming the pathway of choice in national political campaigns.”

Energy In Depth (EID) is featured in the news a lot these days, chiefly for attacking the Oscar-nominated documentary Gasland, but also for its extensive efforts to malign the excellent reporting done by ProPublica, the Associated Press and other outlets. EID seems to attack everyone who attempts to investigate the significant problems posed by hydraulic fracturing and other natural gas industry practices that have been shown to threaten public health and water quality across America.

Here is how Energy In Depth describes itself on its ‘Contact Us’ page:

"Energy In Depth is a project of America’s small, independent oil and natural gas producers...”

While EID prefers to project this ‘mom and pop shop’ image, the June 2009 memo authored by Barry Russell, president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), reveals the seed funding provided by many of the world's largest oil and gas companies for the creation of Energy In Depth.

The memo states:

The "Energy In Depth" project would not be possible without the early financial commitments of: El Paso Corporation, XTO Energy, Occidental Petroleum, BP, Anadarko, Marathon, EnCana, Chevron, Talisman, Shell, API, IPAA, Halliburton, Schlumberger and the Ohio Oil and Gas Association.

However, none of these major oil and gas companies, or the industry’s largest trade association -- the American Petroleum Institute -- are acknowledged on the ‘About Us’ page of Energy In Depth’s website.

Instead, Energy In Depth portrays modest origins, suggesting that its “website and affiliated educational programs were created by" a coalition of state-based oil and gas associations, whose logos are featured on the ‘About Us’ page. This all seems designed to leave the impression that the EID was launched by small, “independent petroleum producers” rather than by the largest oil and gas companies on the planet.

Additionally, Enegy In Depth fails to acknowledge openly that its website URL was created by Dittus Communications, a Washington DC public relations firm best known for its work for major tobacco and nuclear industry interests. (Dittus is now part of Financial Dynamics, an international communications conglomerate.)

For a group that has accused Gasland director Josh Fox of creating an “alternate history,” and claims to want to “set the record straight” about the motives of anyone who dares to question the natural gas industry’s highly controversial hydrofracking practices, EID seems awfully disingenuous about its own ‘humble’ beginnings and ultimate interests.

The memo reveals the key role that the Independent Petroleum Association of America played in launching Energy In Depth:

For months, IPAA's government relations and communications teams have been working around-the-clock on a new industry-wide campaign – known as "Energy In Depth" (www.energyindepth.org) – to combat new environmental regulations, especially with regard to hydraulic fracturing.

Two IPAA staffers, Lee Fuller and Jeff Eshelman, spearheaded the launch. Chris Tucker is also listed as staff on the current ‘Contact Us’ page. Tucker did double duty in 2009 handling communications for Energy In Depth and the Institute for Energy Research, using the same phone number for both. (IER has received over $300,000 from ExxonMobil and an untold amount from other oil and coal interests to confuse the public about climate change and to attack clean energy sources. For example, IER was busted last year by Danish journalists for financing an infamous anti-wind study.)

Why would Energy In Depth want to hide its high-profile sources of funding?

Perhaps because these same companies are responsible for some of the worst environmental disasters in history, including last year's BP/Halliburton/Anadarko blowout in the Gulf of Mexico; Shell’s multiple atrocities in Nigeria; Chevron’s court-affirmed destruction of the Amazon rainforest; El Paso Corp’s deadly pipeline explosion in Carlsbad, New Mexico; Occidental’s Piper Alpha explosion -- the deadliest oil rig disaster in history; to name just a few incidents among this group.

Perhaps Energy In Depth thinks it might lose credibility with the media and the public if it revealed such key support from these notoriously reckless companies.

Perhaps it should?


So, this is a real time blog, as the goofy Oscars are playing (Feb. 27, Sunday) and I am picking them up on my digital off the air antenna on my 12-inch never used TV; Oprah Winfrey just gave the best documentary award to Inside Job. Gasland was up for the award, however.


One of the directors of Inside Job started his acceptance speech by saying that of all the billions and billions of dollars ripped off by Wall Street pukes and financiers, not one banking rip-off guy or gal is serving time in jail, or has been indicted. Watch Inside Job and Gasland. Hurray for independent filmmakers getting through the methane burps of Fox and mainstream news outlets.

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