The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Others Agree: The New York Times Drilling Article Was Lacking

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted March 4, 2011

On Monday, Feb. 28th, we told you about our concerns over The New York Times articles on natural gas drilling and drinking water. As you might recall, the Times criticized the handling and disposal of drilling waste water, implying that natural gas operations might be harming water supplies in several Northeastern cities. The Times offered no solid facts to back up its assertions.

API's Richard Ranger, who is very knowledgeable about drilling operations, has just recorded his thoughts on the Times' claims:

Richard isn't the only one who found fault with the Times' articles:

  • Jazz Shaw at Hot Air dismissed them as "one more attempt to prevent the development of any domestic energy supplies unless they fit in with the green /renewable energy agenda. And that's the same agenda which, while it may serve a great purpose in the future, still can't finance itself without massive government subsidized support."
  • The Marcellus Shale Coalition said the first of the two Times' articles which was "seven months in the making--lacks context, offers misleading comparisons and in some cases put forth information that is not supported by the facts." The coalition posted a point-by-point rebuttal.
  • Energy In Depth also refuted the article, noting that observers identified "a number of errors in the piece, and obvious examples in which the reporter 'writes-around' or otherwise minimizes things that, had they been represented genuinely, would have forced a diversion from what appears to have been a pre-established narrative."
  • Although his Fort Worth Star-Telegram op-ed did not address the Times' articles directly, Bernard Weinstein offered the opinion that a "solid spectrum of evidence demonstrates that the stage is set for continued natural gas development based on proven operations, not more political theater. The Environmental Defense Fund, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the 93,000 wells across Texas all point to a far less salacious story than the one being told by anti-drilling activists and Hollywood propagandists -- namely that hydraulic fracturing is environmentally safe."

API has produced hundreds of standards and best-practices documents that are used widely by drillers to protect the environment and ensure safety. API also supports a new initiative proposed by the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) to disclose the fluids used in hydraulic fracturing on a well-by-well basis. As API President and CEO Jack Gerard has stated, "a program developed by the GWPC, and endorsed by the IOGCC is a step toward a solution on disclosure," and that in turn should alleviate many concerns about hydraulic fracturing and demonstrate the oil and natural gas industry's commitment to a clean environment.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.