It appears that Colorado oil and gas lobbyists are back to playing their old games of lies and misinformation. Monday, the industry-sponsored, blatantly anti-science group Energy in Depth (EID) put out new propaganda in an attempt to distract from the truth of how damaging oil and gas operations are to western air quality. In an interesting twist, EID’s Simon Lomax chose to attack Denver Post environmental reporter Bruce Finley as a means of casting doubt on the studies and data Finley references in his stories. Lomox spent a great deal of time and a lot of column inches cherrypicking to try and refute the negative effects of oil and gas drilling pollution on air quality. Our favorite line here at C&BP is when Lomax blames trees for smog.
"…and, not for nothing, those percentages don’t even include the biggest source of smog-forming emissions, which is the “biogenic” category – meaning trees and other vegetation." — Simon Lomax, "What Bruce Finley Failed to Mention About Air Quality," Jan. 29, 2013
EID is a front group that was launched in 2009 by the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) – a.k.a the natural gas lobby. It has a team that works in various energy producing states where citizens are rightly concerned about the impacts of oil and gas to clean air, clean water, and property values.
It was disappointing to see that Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) CEO Tisha Schuller decided to insert her group into the theatrics. It was just over a month ago that Schuller began her “charm offensive,” announcing that she would tour Colorado in an attempt to depolarize the debate around drilling and fracking near communities. One way for her to do that would be to publicly distance herself and her organization from disinformation producers like EID. Instead, COGA retweeted EID’s claims.
Speaking of claims, here are a few other facts regarding fracking and air quality that EID would much rather the public wasn’t aware of.
- According to the EPA, “Methane, the primary constituent of natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas…oil and natural gas production and processing accounts for nearly 40% of all U.S. methane emissions, making the industry the nation’s single largest methane source.”
- According to the EPA, “Some of the largest air emissions in the natural gas industry occur as natural gas wells that have been fractured are being prepared for production.”
- CU’s Colorado School of Public Health determined that residents living within one half mile of natural gas wells are at greater risk for potential health problems.
- The EPA has found emissions from drilling, including fracking, and leaks from transmission pipes, totaled 225 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide equivalents during 2011, second only to power plants.
- Fracked wells leaked 40 to 60 percent more methane than conventional natural gas wells.
Front groups like EID detract from the real conversation around fracking and drilling in the west. Unfortunately, it seems as if industry is turning to them out of fear, as more western communities move to install common sense protections for their residents. If people like COGA's Tisha Schuller really want to have a depolarized conversation, they need to publicly distance themselves from groups like EID. Instead, Schuller is doing what every other mouthpiece for Big Oil does, spreading lies and misinformation so that the oil and gas companies she represents can continue to pollute.