Pot Meet Kettle: Oil Executive Says “Misinformation And Fear” Hurting Fracking Efforts

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Ryan Lance, CEO of oil giant ConocoPhillips, issued a dire warning to colleagues at an energy conference earlier this month.  According to Lance, “misinformation and fear” could easily derail the current financial boom that is taking place within the shale gas industry.

According to The Hill, Lance told those gathered at the conference that they need to actively engage with government officials to fix the problem.  From The Hill’s report:

Industry groups contend that concerns about fracking have been badly overstated and say the method is safe.

Lance accused critics of “creating fear” and touted steps he said the industry is taking on water conservation, disclosure of chemicals and other areas.

To address Lance’s first claim (fear and misinformation), the only misinformation being pushed out related to the safety of fracking is coming from the industry.  The best available research tells us that natural gas fracking activities have been linked to increased seismic activity, groundwater pollution, and abnormally higher concentrations of air pollution near fracking well sites.  The full list of dangers from fracking can be found in DeSmogBlog’s “Fracking The Future” report. 

But focusing on Lance’s claim that “misinformation and fear” are thwarting fracking operations misses another important statement from the CEO.  He also said that he and his colleagues in the industry are taking the initiative in being more transparent in disclosing the chemical cocktails being injected into the ground, as well as improvements in “other areas.”

Lance’s claim is at odds with the truth.  In fact, his company, ConocoPhillips, has helped lead the charge to prevent any form of disclosure.   While they have complied with state regulations that are beginning to require disclosure from shale gas companies, they have done only the bare minimum of reporting, and the majority of wells operated by both Conoco and the rest of the industry continue to skirt disclosure requirements

Conoco’s history goes far beyond fighting disclosure.  They have also been a heavy hitter in Washington when it comes to lobbying against oversight of fracking operations.  According to Polluter Watch, ConocoPhillips has spent $69 million on lobbying efforts over the last 5 years, and poured an additional $2 million into direct political campaign donations.  Polluter Watch also notes that the company is ranked #11 on the list of worst polluters in the country. 

The oil giant also worked alongside other dirty energy companies like BP to lobby against any form of EPA oversight for fracking companies.

Lance’s bio also states that he is a board member of the American Petroleum Institute, an industry-funded think tank that has been one of the strongest opponents of oversight for the shale gas and fracking industry, claiming that the current oversight (or lack thereof) is more than the industry needs.

If the industry, and people like Ryan Lance, wish to be taken seriously, they need to admit to the reality that no form of fossil fuel, especially fuel obtained from fracking, comes without significant health and environmental threats.

Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine, and his articles have appeared on The Huffington Post, Alternet, and The Progressive Magazine. He has worked for the Ring of Fire radio program with hosts Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Mike Papantonio, and Sam Seder since August 2004, and is currently the co-host and producer of the program. He also currently serves as the co-host of Ring of Fire on Free Speech TV, a daily program airing nightly at 8:30pm eastern. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009.  Follow him on Twitter @farronbalanced.

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