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 William Gardner on November 19, 2010 at 12:05
I think portions of the program were needed and depending on how you look at it, necessary even if it shed such a negative light on aspects. You said yourself Keith in your second paragraph that "you need to know what you are getting yourself into" and your right. The problem was that there was such a fast and furious onslaught to the people of E TX and NW LA that the adage of money talks BS walks took over. And there was a lot of money being thrown around.
Based upon Ms. Stahl's article, we the industry, the public and the government should take a deep breath and look at what has transpired to date and make the adjustments needed to sustain an active production while at the same time do everything we can to protect our environment as well as our public. One thing to remember is that even after the hoopla of the shale play is over, the infrastructure will still be in place, wells will be extracting and pipes will still be in the ground. All this needs to be monitored and maintained so we don't have big booms occur a few years down the road.
I'm off my soap box now.
Comment by Anna Remedies on November 19, 2010 at 12:00
I get so tired of the references about the Cadillac dealerships hopping, it makes people sound like rednecks who never owned anything decent in their lives!
Comment by Joey on November 19, 2010 at 11:52
I totally agree with what you said. The segment was completely disappointing! Why must TV always dwell on the negatives...

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