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Energy in Depth

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

Learn more about the threat drilling for methane gas poses to fresh water.

Energy in Depth (EID) is a pro-oil-and-gas drilling industry front group formed by the American Petroleum Institute, the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and dozens of additional industry organizations for the purpose of criticizing the documentary "Gaslands", their latest attempt being a documentary produced by a political attack ad agency for EID, the ironically titled "Truthland"[1] which was exposed as a gas industry infomercial[2] as soon as it was released. The domain for the website promoting the film —Truthlandmovie.com — is owned by gas driller Chesapeake Energy.[3]

EID consists of several interrelated fronts in several states, with ties to various PR firms, gas companies and political lobbyists, as detailed by Dory Hippauf in "The Gas Roots". [4]

EID attacks grassroots opposition to fracking as part of a conspiracy, and denounce specific legislation, such as legislation proposed by Colorado U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette to regulate underground hydraulic fracturing fluids.

Hydraulic fracturing of underground geological formations, commonly called "fracking," was invented by the Halliburton Company. It is done to increase the amounts of oil and gas that can be extracted from existing wells. The companies that specialize in shale gas development have been the target of various investigations for tending to overstate the extent of their resserves.[5] Accordingly, EID was formed to counter critics of the industry's financial and environmental practices. [6]

Energy in Depth (or EID) attempts to paint grassroots opposition to shale gas fracking as being part of a conspiracy of NGOs. How such a conspiracy applies to grassroots opposition in Quebec, Bulgaria, France and the UK is not clear - since the conspiracy theory of opposition exists primarily in Energy In Depth's Power Point presentation.[7]

Energy in Depth hires locals as bloggers and PR types with varying degrees of crediblity and effectiveness, such as Tom Shepstone, formerly an accredited land planner, now "political organizer" for EID in New York. [8]

Energy in Depth tends to wrap its arguments in the flag, having denounced DeGette's proposed fracking legislation as an “unnecessary financial burden on a single small-business industry, American oil and natural gas producers.” In June, 2009, Energy in Depth started a multimillion dollar lobbying and public relations campaign aimed at derailing public health legislation that would require the disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking fluids. In addition to a Web site, EID's campaign includes a Twitter feed, a Facebook group, a YouTube channel and an aggressive advertising campaign.

Energy in Depth trumpets the economic benefits of shale gas industrialization - which have been grossly overstated, most recently in New York.[9] When, in New York, dry gas from shale is not currently economic. [10]

Energy in Depth is, in a sense, one of the most conspicuous manifestations of the gas industry's avowed "counter-insurgency" to attempt to discredit grass roots environmental activists; even to the extent of employing ex-military "psy-ops" specialists.[11] The simplest tactic of which is to make ad hominem attacks on grassroots activists.[12]

Energy in Depth have been featured speakers at gas industry conferences explaining how to counteract grass roots opposition with what it describes as fracking "Counter Insurgents".[13] In this regard, Energy In Depth is part of a subculture of gas industry consultants that specialize in dealing with local opposition to fracking, via paid $hils.[14]


Funders

Energy in Depth is funded by the El Paso Corporation, XTO Energy, Occidental Petroleum, BP, Anadarko, Marathon, EnCana, Chevron, Talisman, Shell, API, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, Halliburton, Schlumberger and the Ohio Oil and Gas Association.[15]

Website domain

The website for Energy in Depth was registered on February 23, 2009 by the PR firm Dittus Communications.[16] Dittus, which is now known as FD Americas Public Affairs, boasts on its website that "energy clients have formed the backbone of FD Americas Public Affairs’ clientele for more than a decade." Clients have included Alabama Power, American Energy Alliance, Center for Clean Air Policy, Consumer Energy Alliance, FutureGen, Georgia Power, Independent Petroleum Association of America, Institute for Energy Research, Salt River Project and U.S. Department of Energy.[17]

Background on health and safety hazards

The chemicals companies use in their fracking fluids are considered trade secrets and have traditionally been undisclosed.

Under the Bush administration, fracking was exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act by the Energy Policy Act of 2005.[18]

Fracking has resulted in the documented contamination of groundwater wells and other environmental and public health hazards. In December, 2008, the Web site "OMB Watch" reported that

Among the reports of damage to environmental and public health resulting from hydraulic fracturing are more than 1,000 cases of documented water contamination in Colorado, New Mexico, Alabama, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. In addition to contamination from the below-ground drilling, leaks and spills from trucks and waste pits are also causing problems. Tracking the contamination is especially difficult because drillers refuse to disclose the chemicals being used. Despite the secrecy, some information on the chemical mixture has been pieced together. Among the identified chemicals are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, and xylene.

OMB Watch further reported that a Colorado nurse suffered multi-organ failure after being exposed to a gas worker who had been brought into the hospital soaked with fracking fluid:

The health risks from fracking chemicals was made clear in the summer of 2008 when a Colorado nurse almost died from exposure while treating a gas field worker whose clothing had been doused with the chemicals. Despite the nurse suffering from heart, lung, and liver failure, plus kidney damage and blurred vision, the drilling company refused to reveal to her doctors the "proprietary" chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. While the nurse eventually recovered, she was never told to what she had been exposed.[19]

Personnel

On its website, Energy in Depth lists[20] its press contacts as being:

It also lists its "policy contacts" as being:

Contact information

Energy in Depth
Web site: http://www.energyindepth.org/
(No physical address is given on its Web site)
General phone number: (202) 346-8825 (NOTE: This is the same phone number as the Institute for Energy Research)

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. [3]
  4. [4]
  5. The Shale Game by Deborah Rogers [5]
  6. Alexandra Kougentakis, Brad Johnson What The Frack? Gas Industry’s Multimillion-Dollar Campaign Demonizes Hydraulic Fracturing Bill, Think Progress; The Wonk Room. June 12, 2009
  7. Energy in Depth [6] Houston conference, 2011
  8. New York EID [7]
  9. Frackonomics
  10. Shale Gas Frackonomics [8]
  11. Industry Use Psy-Ops On Critics
  12. [9]
  13. "Counter Insurgents"
  14. $hils
  15. Barry Russell, Independent Petroleum Association of America President and CEO Hydraulic Fracturing Under Attack, memo/newsletter to IPAA members, June 5, 2009
  16. "energyindepth.org", Joker.com., accessed June 2009.
  17. FD Americas Public Affairs, "Energy and Environment", FD Americas Public Affairs website, accessed June 2009.
  18. Alexandra Kougentakis, Brad Johnson What The Frack? Gas Industry’s Multimillion-Dollar Campaign Demonizes Hydraulic Fracturing Bill, Think Progress; The Wonk Room. June 12, 2009
  19. Brian Turnbaugh Gas Drilling Threatens Public with Undisclosed Chemicals, OMB Watch, December 2, 2008
  20. Energy in Depth, "Contact Us", Energy in Depth website, accessed June 2009.

External resources

External articles