Saturday, March 12, 2011

Industry Worries About Public Image

photo by Tim Ruggiero

Hard as it is to believe, the general public isn’t rushing to embrace the oil and gas industry’s message that hydraulic fracturing is safe. And that lack of enthusiasm has industry officials worried.

A couple weeks before the New York Times expose on fracking hit the newsstands, Colorado Oil & Gas Association president Tisha Schuller told industry representatives that their public relations strategy wasn’t working.

Schuller spoke at a conference that was part of this winter’s NAPE expo in Houston.
Tom Fowler, business energy reporter for The Houston Chronicle reported on this huge expo that draws attendees from oil-patch regions across the world.

During the February 16 conference on unconventional drilling and regulations, he quoted Schuller saying that it’s time for the industry to shift strategies. They need to try something different from their continuing argument against tighter regulations, she said. They need to quit repeating their timeworn claim that fracking hasn’t caused drinking water contamination.

“It’s not working if you give the impression that we don’t want to be regulated at all or think we should be able to operate however we please,” Schuller said. A better message would stress that the drillers, truck drivers and others working in the industry “live, work and play in the same communities” as everyone else and value clean air and clean water just as much as their neighbors.

Schuller added that companies need to highlight what they do right. Point out the key areas in the operations where fracking can pose a threat, such as surface spills and casing failures, she told industry officials. Then explain what you are doing to assure those operations are conducted in a safe manner.


  1. "better message would stress that the drillers, “live, work and play in the same communities” as everyone else and value clean air and clean water just as much as their neighbors."

    They're taking this advice to heart, so much so that it's almost laughable. At the 3/10/11 Allegheny County Council's Public Hearing the 'industry' people (who made up only 1/3 of the speakers), all proudly announced that they're residents of our County as they came up to the podium to speak, many followed this by blathering about the 1000s of jobs drilling has created, (we know this to be a lie in Penn.), and they embellished with some version of "I love to hunt/take my kids hiking, fish with my family, bike thru our parks" - yep they're all first class environmentalists! They pointed out how many years they've worked in the industry, how they've NEVER seen sloppy, cost cutting methods used, everything's above board, perfectly transparent. Really laid it on thick.

    In reaction to grassroots groups' getting well known for their activism, they started their own group, "Friends of Marcellus", made up entirely of men, (o.k. there's a sprinkling of women), who work in the industry. In contrast grassroots opposition is made up of people with jobs outside of the industry, jobs that don't give them overtime to attend local gov't hearings, we do this b/c we've taken the time to research & are alarmed at the threat fracking poses to us, our families and to the cities & towns in our state.

  2. We should take a look at whatis happening in the province of Quebec in Canada. The citizens have rebelled against the shale industry and the government. A 6 months study has concluded that the governement has acted blindly and has also condemned the industry. If I was a gas company, I would pull out of there fast.