How Fracking Propaganda Can Be Dangerous: Urging Oil and Natural Gas Companies to Take Precautions

by Kathleen Sgamma, President on April 27, 2017 - 1:27pm

Last Friday, Western Wire published an article exposing an April 19thletter to the editor by Andrew O’Connor published in the Boulder Daily Camera that called for blowing up wells and violence against industry workers. O’Connor is pushing an anti-fracking ballot initiative. The fact that there are crazies out there on the radical fringe is not surprising to us, and I’m regularly “attacked” on Twitter by unhinged people just because I dare to point out the stellar environmental and safety record of our industry. 

The real surprise is that the Daily Camera, a seemingly respectable newspaper, would publish a letter threatening violence. Not only did it do so, but the next day edited the letter to soften the message while still leaving in the overall threat. The Western Wire stories exposing the letter and subsequent editing was picked up by Colorado Politics and the national news site Daily Caller.

Rather than apologizing and retracting the letter, the Daily Camera doubled down. Following the negative attention that Western Wire initiated, the editorial editor issued a sort-of apology that puts the original letter to the editor in the same light as civil disobedience from Thoreau to Mahatma Gandhi.

But then the executive editor at the Daily Camera  further supported publishing the letter by equating our industry to bombing Syria. This rhetoric is simply unacceptable, and truly reveals the breakdown of objectivity in many media outlets. It also shows what we’re up against as an industry when it comes to media coverage. The routine anti-development, anti-industry bias in the media is the reason we started Western Wire. Without Western Wire, the story would not have been exposed and a counter reaction started.

By early this week, the story was being picked up in the mainstream media. After Western Wire published an article highlighting the condemnation of the call to violence by Colorado State Rep. Chris Hansen (D), 9News jumped in on the story, also reporting how the Secretary of State had to arrange extra security for a meeting that O’Connor would be at to discuss the ballot initiative. After all, this fine upstanding gentleman has since followed up with statements that he wouldn’t have a problem with a sniper shooting a worker. 9News continues to cover the story, and other papers like the Colorado Springs Gazette have also weighed in.

I urge you to follow the Secretary of State’s examples and take added precaution with your employees. Your folks are out there reaching out to communities and speaking at public hearings. Please take steps to ensure the safety of your employees.