Fracking Feud

Friday, June 21, 2013


As hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, continues its spread throughout the nation, oil industry representatives and environmentalists vie for control over coverage of the issue. Brooke speaks to ProPublica's Abrahm Lustgarten about how advocates on both sides of the issue are attempting to control the narrative.


Abrahm Lustgarten

Hosted by:

Brooke Gladstone

Comments [4]

JimW from central New York State

As NPR listeners already know, and Abrahm Lustgarten mentioned, NPR receives significant funding from the natural gas industry. NPR asserts there is an absolute “firewall” between news content and underwriting sponsors. Even so, the fact that ANGA gets to broadcast month after month its seemingly benign blurbs, implies NPR’s acceptance of the natural gas industry’s goals, including extreme extraction and further and prolonged dependence on fossil fuels. After two years of my research and communications with the NPR ombudsman I have come to the conclusion that NPR will not disclose (or has no) criteria for selecting or declining underwriting funders. It seems that they will take money from anybody. Does On the Media have the gumption to investigate and report on this lack of transparency?

Jun. 27 2013 10:01 PM
Steve Hiltner from New Jersey

Two other aspects missing from reporting are 1) energy conservation could greatly reduce the amount of natural gas needed, precluding a need for more coal even if natural gas extraction is limited, and 2)gas extraction has nothing to do with energy independence. The more gas we extract now, the more dependent the nation will be on foreign sources in the future. In fact, the gas industry is attempting to expand its pipelines to the east coast, in order to ship much of the natural gas overseas. The aim is to diminish our nation's inheritance of energy as quickly as possible, for maximum profit in the short term. Energy independence comes from renewable energy, not spending down an inheritance.

Jun. 24 2013 12:59 PM

I think both journalists and environmentalists alike would be better off if they broadened their view of this issue, and the energy industry that it sits in. There are many legitimate concerns and many questions still unanswered. Fortunately, we seem better positioned because of this public dialogue to address these issues in the present, instead of decades after the fact, as is all too often the case with environmental pollution. Unfortunately, the environmentalists seem to be stuck arguing a question ("To frack or not to frack?") that's largely already been answered, and the media have failed to do any better. There are tough and interesting questions here, like: "What's worse, radioactive waste fracking water going into our rivers, or coal emissions that we know are killing thousands of people a year?" Or: "Would we prefer to build more nuclear plants, and if so, where will we store the waste?" Or: "If New York is going to allow fracking, what regulations should we demand? Drilling fees to pay for groundwater monitoring and a health registry? New waste water treatment facilities?" As things stand, there is no dialogue, which makes it likely that these decisions will be made for us by a few rich old white guys who've spent their careers bouncing back and forth between the gas industry and governmental energy departments.

Jun. 22 2013 03:01 PM

Twice in this week's program -- once in this story and once in the Peter Sandman "risk" segment -- Brooke Gladstone referred to the image of burning tap water.

Brooke did so credulously, giving the audience the impression that the indelible image (famous even to the millions of people who merely saw the trailer and not the entire film "Gasland") of homeowners frightened by the spectacle of a flash when a flame was brought near a running kitchen tap was in fact a real example of the dangers of hydraulic fracking for natural gas.

In fact, that scene has been debunked as "total baloney."

The Heartland Institute's Alyssa Carducci posted about the work of investigative reporter Phelim McAleer in exposing the myth that fracking was the cause of the ignitable tap water. (Residents had been able to occasionally light the naturally-occurring gas in their tap water since the 1930's long before any natural gas production was occurring, and there had been no fracking in the immediate neighborhood of the home that the "Gasland" producers filmed.)

Jun. 22 2013 08:30 AM

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