The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Strike Four for the New York Times on Shale Gas

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted June 27, 2011

The New York Times finds the reality of domestic development of natural gas scary, you know with the job creation and energy security and all, so they are determined to make the public scared of it too. Undeterred by the massive failings of their three attempts to smear shale gas development as unsafe, yesterday they switched gears to try and paint it as uneconomical. Former head of Pennsylvania's environmental agency John Hanger says "reader beware:"

The same reporter for the NYT that wrote the February 27th, 2011 hit piece falsely suggesting Pennsylvania's drinking waters were poisoned with radionuclides is back at it. He has another NYT front page, sunday story attacking shale gas as a ponzi scheme and the industry as filled with Enrons...Reader beware. This reporter puts sensationalism ahead of fairness or truth. Pennsylvania's drinking waters are not poisoned with radionuclides, as substantial testing has verified, and the reading public should drink from this journalistic cup with great caution. Could anyone imagine more sensationalistic narratives than Radiation, Ponzi, and Enron? Consistent with this reporter's method, today's article uses often anonymous statements to paint a sensational narrative and leaves out or underplays critical information that is inconvenient to establishing the credibility of the dominant anti-gas narrative.

And about that narrative Aubrey McClendon from Chesapeake Energy has a reminder:

...this reporter's claim of impending scarcity of natural gas supply contradicts the facts and the scientific extrapolation of those facts by the most sophisticated reservoir engineers and geoscientists in the world. Not just at Chesapeake, but by experts at many of the world's leading energy companies that have made multi-billion-dollar, long-term investments in U.S. shale gas plays, with us and many other companies. Notable examples of these companies, besides the leading independents such as Chesapeake, Devon, Anadarko, EOG, EnCana, Talisman and others, include these leading global energy giants: Exxon, Shell, BP, Chevron, Conoco, Statoil, BHP, Total, CNOOC, Marathon, BG, KNOC, Reliance, PetroChina, Mitsui, Mitsubishi and ENI, among others. Is it really possible that all of these companies, with a combined market cap of almost $2 trillion, know less about shale gas than a NYT reporter, a few environmental activists and a handful of shale gas doubters? I seriously doubt it and I expect you do as well.

Energy market analyst and blogger Nick Grealy on the shame of this type of reporting:

What the Times will do unfortunately is confuse things even further. The average reader is no wiser on economics and geology than he or she is on the reality of energy, oil, gas, chemicals or water. What is consistent on all these attacks, apart from being out-dated and out-of-context, is that it unfortunately places the shale debate on to the same tired old left/right field and it only confuses those outside of the US even further.

But fortunately there was an article this weekend that did try to educate the average reader on the reality of energy, it wasn't in the New York Times of course, but rather the Wall Street Journal:

The U.S. is in the midst of an energy revolution, and we don't mean solar panels or wind turbines. A new gusher of natural gas from shale has the potential to transform U.S. energy production...The shale boom is also reviving economically suffering parts of the country, while offering a new incentive for manufacturers to stay in the U.S...All of this growth has inevitably attracted critics, notably environmentalists and their allies. They've launched a media and political assault on hydraulic fracturing, and their claims are raising public anxiety. So it's a useful moment to separate truth from fiction in the main allegations against the shale revolution.

Useful indeed, so please take a moment and read.


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.