Reclamation: the industry’s image problem

The Thompson Divide Coalition wasn’t the only group to launch a PR campaign last week.

Energy group launches ‘Common Ground’ videos

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ­— The Western Energy Alliance, an energy industry advocacy organization, has launched a series of videos entitled “Common Ground” that are “designed to inform the public about how western oil and natural gas producers are providing abundant, affordable energy for Americans while protecting the environment,” according to a statement from WEA.

The first video, with the oxymoronic title Developing Energy, Protecting the Land, only lasts a minute and a half because when it comes to reclamation, the industry doesn’t have much to show for itself.

In what can only be described as a karmic twist of fate, WEA shone the spotlight on the reclamation issue to launch their PR campaign during the same week—perhaps even the same day—the COGCC released its report of the leaking abandoned wellhead buried in a pasture in DeBeque.

Leave it to a pro-industry group to show you a pond, native grasses, and wildflowers on one ranch and call it reclamation. Leave it to Mother Nature to belch forth the ugly truth about reclamation.

Of course in his statement, WEA President Tim Wigley didn’t mention reclamation. Instead he attacked environmentalists. Blaming consumers for your bad reputation is not a very effective corporate PR strategy.

“The environmental lobby often presents the public with a false choice — either the environment or affordable energy,” said Tim Wigley, president of WEA, according to the statement.

“Their answer is scarcity — we must have less domestic energy development in order to protect the environment,” Wigley added. “Meanwhile, the oil and natural gas industry has responded to every environmental challenge, developing technologies that have unlocked huge new American energy supplies while significantly reducing environmental impact.”

No. The answer is abundance. Environmentalists insist we have an abundance of solar and wind power, which are currently underdeveloped, and in areas where they have been developed these energy resources are under-utilized because the infrastructure doesn’t exist to support them because the oil & gas lobby prevents governments from funding alternative resources.

The video format was chosen, Haubert [Jon Haubert public affairs spokesman for WEA] said, because “We (and I think others do, too,) feel that video is one of the best mediums to show/tell our story. A picture says 1,000 words, right?”

Absolutely. And every picture tells a story, don’t it? These next four pictures pretty much say it all.

Maybe I’m missing something but where is the reclamation here?

Roan Plateau and I-70 corridor – Garfield County, Colorado [photo courtesy Ecoflight]

Roan Plateau and I-70 corridor – Garfield County, Colorado [photo courtesy Ecoflight]

Or what about here?

Uintah Basin, Utah

Uintah Basin, Utah

Any reclamation here?

Jonah gas field – Pinedale, Wyoming [photo courtesy Ecoflight]

Jonah gas field – Pinedale, Wyoming [photo courtesy Ecoflight]

Nope, not here either.

Aztec gas field -- Farmington, NM [photo courtesy Ecoflight]

Aztec gas field — Farmington, NM [photo courtesy Ecoflight]

Ross Lane, director of the new Western Values Project, pointed out the hypocrisy of the WEA’s video campaign.

“I think Western Energy Alliance is spending money to tell people they are protecting the environment,” said Ross Lane, director of a new conservation group called Western Values Project, an offshoot of the Checks & Balances Project, another watchdog organization.

But, Lane added, “I think Coloradans are sick of campaign-style rhetoric and P.R. spin” about the industry’s effects on land and communities.

He said that the drilling companies who support the WEA “are polluting their [Colorado residents’] air and their water, without taking responsibility for the damage they do.”

Rather than accept the videos’ contention that the industry is “reducing [the] environmental impact” of its activities, Lane said of Coloradans, “They’ll believe it when they see it.”

The problem is, the WEA’s has taken on a comprehensive and complex issue – reclamation – and tried to portray it like this:

Flower-bambi-6334693-360-270After I watched the video I did some research on oil & gas reclamation and found out it looks a lot more like this:

sludge  monsterSince they brought it up this is as good a time as any to look at oil & gas reclamation, especially with the sludge monster bubbling up in DeBeque. I’m still doing research and the issue deserves its own post. Send your links to reclamation disasters to me:

In the meantime, WEA released their second video, Water.

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2 Comments on “Reclamation: the industry’s image problem”

  1. Bob Arrington Says:

    Well said, you showed the Orwellian doublespeak of their Bogus Untrue Lacking Lies Styled Hopelessly In Temerity

  2. Carl Mc Williams Says:

    Karen and I bought Matt Damon’s PROMISED LAND (DVD). The story was written by Damon and John Krasinski and in the opening scene Damon’s character, who is a “land man” for a drilling company mentions “Rifle, Colorado”.

    What is quite compelling is how the story turns at the end……….Damon and Krasinski are very astute in the screenplay and the plot and you see how the O&G industry manipulates every facet of the controversy over fracking and its environmental impacts.

    Buy the DVD, you’ll watch it three or four times, because of the twisting plot. You will be enlightened.

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