Wednesday, May 16, 2012

WSKG Busted! Shilling for Gas Industry

Link to this:

WSKG is BUSTED doing PR work for the Gas Industry.

Here are two screen shots of the same article published today on the WSKG News site, just a few hours apart.


Notice anything different?

So, what's going on? Why did the image change?
First, let's look at the attribution... it's by Ari Moore, a fractivist from Ithaca:

The photo comes from her Flickr page:
(although it apparently was taken by Helen Slottje).

While it is published under a Creative Commons license which
encourages remixing with attribution for non-commercial purposes:
the point of such a license is to give the author creative control over
how their work is used.

I noticed this, and alerted Ari, because I was pretty sure she
wouldn't agree to this use, as the WSKG "news" article was
basically just a press release from Buffalo University (SUNY),
without any critical analysis, basically stating that

"Regulations will save us from the perils of Fracking!"

There are only a couple of problems with this.
Like, for instance, that it is untrue.
  1. Regulations DO NOT prevent pollution.
    Regulations ENABLE POLLUTION!

    Regulators are trained and employed to ISSUE PERMITS --for pollution!
    Then they asses monetary fines for violations and spills -- if we are lucky!!

    As we have seen in PA, many spills go unreported, and those that are,
    often suffer no enforcement action, or if so, it's just a token wrist-slap.

    The purpose of the permit is not to prevent pollution,
    it is to regulate how much pollution occurs at any give time.

    If this activity were not permitted,
    thus making the associated regulations obsolete,
    there would be no pollution for these industries.

    Therefore, these permits and associated regulations
    are CAUSING pollution.

    The FACT is that this industry has a HORRIBLE safety record,
    which has left a toxic legacy everywhere it has gone.

    The only way to stop the violations and stop the environmental
    destruction is by PROHIBITION,
    which is not in the charter of government "regulators".

    Regulators can only adjust the rate of how much pollution is dumped into the river.
    They don't know how to shut it off entirely.

    Prohibition is not in the job description of a regulator.

    Prohibition would make the regulator's jobs unnecessary.

  2. All three of the report's lead authors have ties to the energy industry.


  3. As another "Shale Institute" and neighboring SUNY Fredonia has industry ties and funding:

  4. Despite the claims made by institute Director John Martin that the study was funded entirely by the University at Buffalo with no industry support and was funded solely by University of Buffalo, another spokesman from (SUNY) University of Buffalo says the study was funded by Buffalo University Foundation:

    ....which is not subject to NY Public Officers Law, or Open Meetings Law, or FOIL

    Which means the claim about "no gas industry funding" cannot be independently verified.

  5. Drilling down into the report, we learn something quite different than the headline might lead one to think:

    The study confirms that as more wells are drilled, the number of environmental incidents increases. In fact, the overall number tripled from 2008 to 2011, even though the number per well went down.


Any of this can determined from either common sense, by reading the report with a critical eye, or by spending a few minutes on Google.

By repeating mostly from what was in the press release from UB, which certainly favors
gas development in NY, and without any critical analysis, WSKG acts as a Public Relations
arm for the Gas Industry.

Now one good thing WSKG did, besides removing Ari Moore's photo
without permission for this use, which she apparently complained to them about,
they also added a link to a much better article about the SUNY Buffalo

The Associated Press May 15, 2012, 2:41PM ET
NY report: State regs reduce gas-drilling impacts


A study released Tuesday by the University at Buffalo's new shale gas institute concludes that state oversight of gas drilling has been effective at reducing environmental problems in Pennsylvania and will prevent major problems in New York if the state allows drilling to begin.

The university-funded report examined almost 3,000 violations from nearly 4,000 gas wells in Pennsylvania since 2008. It found that 62 percent of the violations were administrative and 38 percent were environmental. The environmental violations stemmed from 845 events -- 25 of them classified as "major," defined as site restoration failures, serious contamination of water supplies, major land spills, blowouts, and venting and gas migration.

The authors found that even as the overall number of violations increased as more wells were drilled, the percentage of environmental violations compared to the number of wells drilled fell from 58.2 percent in 2008 to 30.5 percent in 2010.

"The data in this study demonstrates that the odds of non-major environmental events, and the much smaller odds of major environmental events, are being reduced even further by enhanced regulation and improved industry practice," lead author Timothy Considine said in a conference call with reporters.

The report says that in 2008, 170 shale gas wells were drilled in Pennsylvania and there were 99 environmental violations, meaning 58 percent of all wells drilled incurred some violation. In the first eight months of 2011, they say 1,248 wells were drilled and there were 331 recorded environmental violations, meaning 26.5 percent of wells had violations. They cite this as evidence of improved operations and regulation.

However, a main argument by opposition groups is that the cumulative impact of more and more wells being drilled must be considered. From that perspective, the study confirms that as more wells are drilled, the number of environmental incidents increases -- in fact, the overall number tripled from 2008 to 2011, even though the number per well went down.

Shale gas drilling hasn't been allowed in New York since the Department of Environmental Conservation began a review in 2008 to address impacts from horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which uses millions of gallons of chemically treated water per well to crack shale and release gas.

The first study produced by the new Shale Resources and Society Institute at Buffalo was released on the same day as a broad coalition of health, environmental, and political groups were staging a rally and concert in Albany calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ban fracking. Industry opponents believe the technology poses an unacceptable risk to health and the environment.

All three of the report's lead authors have ties to the energy industry as well as being academicians, but institute Director John Martin said the study was funded entirely by the University at Buffalo with no industry support.

[Editor's note: This assertion is contradicted by another spokesman for the University, as reported by Buck Quigley / ARTVOICE: ]

Martin is the founder of a consulting group serving the energy industry, academic institutions and governments and has worked on energy research and policy issues for the state. Considine is an energy economist at the University of Wyoming and has received industry funding for previous studies. The third author, Robert Watson, is professor emeritus at Pennsylvania State University's oil and gas engineering program with 45 years as an engineer for a natural gas company.

The report says most of the major environmental impacts were "due to operator error, negligence, or a failure to follow proper procedures when drilling."

The last part of the study looks at how New York's proposed guidelines and regulations would apply to each of the 25 major incidents identified in Pennsylvania. It concludes that the underlying causes of the incidents could have been entirely avoided or mitigated under New York's proposed regulatory framework.

"This suggests that regulators are not only responding effectively within their states, but are learning and acting on the experiences of other states as well -- a positive sign for the continued successful state regulation of natural gas development through hydraulic fracturing," the authors conclude.


Environmental Impacts report

Here's a little video I made featuring Chip Northrup getting pissed off about setbacks,
meanwhile, during this invasion, WSKG is still playing mostly automated streams
with 60 hours per week of robo-classical music and 80 hours per week of robo-jazz.

Why not call them to complain?

  • Letters to:
    WSKG, PO Box 3000, Binghamton, NY 13902

  • Physical Address:
    601 Gates Rd., Vestal, NY 13850

  • Phone (607) 729-0100
    ask to speak with Brian Sickora or the Program Director.

  • Phone (607) 729-0200
    and leave a message


arievergreen said...

Thanks for this post, and for letting me know about the photo use in the first place!

I wrote to them this morning asking them to take it down, and was told that the image was selected "as a generic photograph depicting some aspect of the natural gas drilling process, with no further editorial comment or association intended."

I replied (please excuse my language): "I understand how you came to use the image, but if you read the information under the photo, you probably would have seen that I and the photographer are vehemently opposed to this industry and its propaganda... and hence, that this image was not the best choice for the article in question. As the article you drew yours from reports, 'All three of the report's lead authors have ties to the energy industry as well as being academicians' - which doesn't say a lot for their objectivity. The common people are being totally screwed by this industry. You have to decide if you're on our side or if you're on the side of the industry, which, unlike us little people, can afford to manipulate the media for their benefit."

Bill Huston said...

Wow! Awesome! Thanks for everything you do, Ari. (and that's a lot!)