60 Minutes & Shale Gas Misinformation - Why it matters...

Minute 6:06 is where it all went south. Minute 10:45 is where I laughed out loud. Like an aged rollercoaster that you were foolish enough to hop on. I, however, continued to watch, hoping that it would right itself. But it wasn’t to be. Ms. Stahl, what did we do to you to deserve such “royal treatment?”

You can watch the segment here.

What I won’t do is be overly critical of the landowners who find themselves with polluted drinking water or faulty equipment spewing poison 200 feet away from their living space. However, when you buy land or lease your property, you need to know what you are getting yourself into-that’s just the reality of it. And, indeed, the industry needs to be held accountable when they are at fault. I don’t know too many arguing this point.

Let’s just get this out of the way; the segment was wrongly titled. Rather than “Shaleionaires,” a more appropriate title would have been, “Shale Gas: The Greed, the Industry & the Ugly.” If you thought, “Shaleionaires” indicated that it would be a positive segment, or at least 51% positive, boy were you fooled!

What was missed was an opportunity to open up many people to the wonders of natural gas and the role it can play in freeing us from Middle East oil. You know; those people who want to kill us. Rather, CBS utilized classic fear mongering that would make Gasland proud. They even evoked those boogey-words that bring fear into the heart of every New Yorker – Cheney, Halliburton…Hydrocarbons. Boo!

BTW, where are the independent experts CBS? Well spoken they may be, but oil and gas CEOs don’t exactly usher in soft fuzzies. I can already see the preview for next week’s 60 Minutes; “Exxon’s CEO advocates for the combustible engine.” By making a CEO the main advocate for natural gas, CBS is saying, “There are no independent people that can make the argument for natural gas.” And, “We are going to pit the industry against the people that really care- the environmentalists.” Of course, we know natural gas can win this debate if given equal footing.

What can also get lost in the excitement are the facts or the other side of the story? In what may have been the most malicious act of omission, Lesley Stahl affirmatively states, “the EPA has just begun to study the effects of Hydraulic Fracturing.” What? Did someone from CBS not come across the 2004 Study on Hydraulic Fracturing? If there are questions regarding the study that make it not credible, then that is one thing, but to communicate that fracking has never been looked at is simply misleading.

Some I have spoken with have said that, “people won’t really pay attention.” But I disagree. Mass media has influence. 13 million is a big audience. Perhaps not big enough to alter U.S. energy policy, shape geopolitics, or rewrite science, but big enough to make our jobs of public education a lot harder.

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Tags: 60, gas, minutes, segment, shale

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Comment by Hobbs on December 1, 2010 at 3:10pm
Nice home run on your article, Keith. I'm pleased to see so many advocates of the industry post here - it appears to me that knowledge can really bring people full circle. Bringing the bad and the good - and just being fair.

Now post on the Marcellus Shale article on the front page of the Times Monday. I have not seen "Gasland", but they sound like they came out of the same putrid, ignorant orifice. From the title down, it's inflammatory and flat out dishonest, disingenuous, and agenda-driven. I was really mad by the end of the article.

And to the Times - you guys really damaged your reputation printing that garbage. A new printing press can't overcome bad journalism.
Comment by Dan Arnold on November 30, 2010 at 4:25pm
It is a unfortunate that when we as a nation are struggling with high unemployment, our part in "global warmng", and importing a huge portion of our energy from hostile nations who use the profits from those sales to do us harm, that our own "news' media take such a biased slant.

We understand that the NG industry is employing hundreds of thousands of people all across America. We understand that NG is the one single bridge fuel to greener energy and the cleanest and most abundant resource we have. Yes, wind and solar energy are cleaner, but they are not effectively available, yet. We understand that we are able to provide all of our nations NG needs (possibly all of our energy needs) right here in the USA. We understand that is an important message to America. Oh, and "by the way" tens of thousands of Americans are enjoying a better standard of life because of NG production.
Yes, there are environmental concerns. They are being addressed. How many gasoline stations do we have? Are there environmental concerns associated with those? How many automobiles do we have on the roads in any given day, week , month , year? Are there environmental concerns associated with that? Of course. We appreciate the value of our transportation system in America and understand the risks associated with that, so we don't focus all our "news" stories on the negative aspects. Water has been naturally polluted by NG (and other things) all along. There are places where petroleum has been found because of natural gas coming to the surface. Even oil has come to the surface. Yes it may happen as the result of drilling. Water is also polluted by gasoline and runoff from highways. Cattle die from exposure to toxins associated with drilling. They also die as the result of a rancher making some bad decisions, or in lightening strikes. We get that, but there is no sensational story there.

Some powerful people in the media hate the energy industry. They want to have all the benefits of electricity and vehicle fuels, but they hate big business. They love their own success, and they love to see our most succesful industries hurt. Some people hate to tell the truth or hear the truth. They hate the truth.
We can't change that, but we can still speak up and tell the truth. The truth is: We as a nation need our NG production, distribution and consumption. We as a nation benefit in so many ways that overcome the errors and incidents that do harm. When harm is done there are remedies. GO Haynesville Shale!
Comment by Amigo 2 on November 22, 2010 at 4:05pm
I, for one, believe that people do listen to information, be it right or wrong. The "people" are so busy with their own lives they never think about the depth of things, especially what we hear on the news. Try all the channels for one day and Do we come out a little confused, a lot confused or do we just pick one and go with that channel. Thank you for all your hard work on this. I am just learning how to put my 2 cents in (which is like Leslie Stahl's) not very accurate sometimes. I do listen and I would hope that enough have written her for her to check into things before doing what she did. What did the 2 gentlemen think about the "60 minute" show? They should have been given a little more time. I am concerned about the drinking water. I am concerned about the livestock. How many times did that happen? She failed to mention that. I never heard of an epidemic.
Comment by sesport on November 21, 2010 at 3:06pm
Keith - Have you considered polishing this up and sending it in as a letter to CBS/ "60 Minutes?" Don't they have a segment on the show when rebuttal/response letters are read, I believe it's called "Letters from Our Viewers."

80)
Comment by Sarah on November 20, 2010 at 3:34pm
I agree Anna- about the cadillac references. It gets old and makes people look like a bunch of rednecks. Leslie Stahl came across condescending towards the guys who did do well thanks to the Haynesville shale.
Comment by Donny Leatherwood on November 19, 2010 at 3:20pm
I found it amusing how the prior to introducing the "Shaleionaires" footage of shacks were shown, who knows where they are even located, implying that CB & Mike came from something of that nature prior to their NG "millions". Of course, the Cadillac reference only added to the perception that they both were "poor farmers". Both of those gentlemen had very successful careers before the money "fell from the sky". And CB probably knows more about the actual drilling of a well than all others interviewed by Ms. Stahl.

I was equally amused by the lighting of the water. I know several people who had to drill many wells on their property to find clean water that wasn't tainted with gas, and that was over 30 years ago. We used to light my cousin's parents house when we were kids. Its that type of misinformation that could lead to the demise of fracturing as we know. And the dead cows? Give me a break. There are enough chemicals in drilling fluids to kill animals; DON'T ALLOW THEM TO DRINK IT!
Comment by R Stoll on November 19, 2010 at 3:03pm
This is the same media that has given Kate and William a hard row to hoe before they are married by challenging her to live up to Diana. And the same ones that are firing travelers up a week ahead of time before they go to the airports Thanksgiving week.
Comment by Keith Mauck (Site Publisher) on November 19, 2010 at 2:52pm
@jffree1 - "anyone" was not referencing you, but the people you referred to in the blogs
Comment by jffree1 on November 19, 2010 at 2:41pm
Wilie, if you were addressing that to me, I am most definitely not a progressive. I was somewhat pleasantly surprised that the piece was not a total hatchet job on Natural Gas. I almost didn't watch it because I felt like it would be. Could it have spent more time on the benefits of NG and the good that it has done in our communities? Absolutely. Could it have refrained from spending a full minute showing dead cows in that pasture or well water igniting? Without doubt. In that sense it was not balance and fair. But the issues of health & safety concern are out there. It doesn't help the NG side to try to ignore or minimize them. That only makes us look greedy and selfish. There will be regulation. I only hope we can keep it at the state level, where it is now.
Comment by Bob Tucker on November 19, 2010 at 2:35pm
Wilie hit the nail on the head. Progressive is a new word for Socialist which is a nice word for "Commie Blasterd." Cute dog......

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