Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Being nuts is mainstream

Posted By on Wed, Sep 14, 2011 at 8:47 AM

Oil rig in West Texas.

Everyone knows the pesky media can get people needlessly stirred up about things. You know, unimportant things like open meetings, government corruption and poison flowing from your faucet.

Well, now there's guidance from the top dog at the Colorado Oil and Gas Association for how to deal with "nuts" who read these ridiculous media reports and become activists. Worse yet are the filmmakers who turn these reports into compelling cinematic warnings.

Here's a report about her advice from The Center for Media and Democracy's PR Watch website:

The President and CEO of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, Tisha Conoly Schuller, told attendees at a drilling industry conference in Denver, Colorado, that attention drawn to the practice of fracking by films like Gasland have caused "a heightened public awareness about hyrdraulic fracturing and an increase in active opposition" to the practice.

She credited Gasland with changing the public conversation about fracking. While still denying that fracking contributes to contamination of drinking water, Conoly-Schuller told the audience that the industry needs to change its messaging around fracking. She outlined a list of recommendations for the industry to improve public perception of its practices, including use of more credible third-party messengers — like university professors — to convey positive messages about the industry to the public, making the drilling industry "hipper" so it appeals to young people and reframing the debate about hydraulic fracturing in economic terms, for example by calling energy the "building block of the economy" — all PR techniques first used by the tobacco industry to bolster public perception and delay regulation of their products.

Commenting on environmental advocates and people who claim they have been physically sickened by exposure to drilling chemicals and practices, Conoly-Schuller said, "These nuts make up about 90 percent of our population, so we can't really call them nuts any more. They're the mainstream."

Her comments are timely for El Paso County residents, who soon could see oil and gas drilling towers rise from the eastern plains, including the Banning Lewis Ranch within the city, as drillers go after the Niobrara field that's expected to be a bonanza.

Here's more about the movie GASLAND from

"The largest domestic natural gas drilling boom in history has swept across the United States. The Halliburton-developed drilling technology of "fracking" or hydraulic fracturing has unlocked a "Saudia Arabia of natural gas" just beneath us. But is fracking safe? When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination. A recently drilled nearby Pennsylvania town reports that residents are able to light their drinking water on fire. This is just one of the many absurd and astonishing revelations of a new country called GASLAND. Part verite travelogue, part expose, part mystery, part bluegrass banjo meltdown, part showdown."

will be broadcast on HBO through 2012.

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