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Misleading Reporting On Oil And Gas Comes In Many Forms

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Written by: David Blackmon

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Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton penned a very good piece recently titled “Media Should Focus on Accuracy When Reporting on Oil and Gas Issues”.  It’s too bad such a piece discussing what should be a matter of journalistic professional duty had to be written, but unfortunately, it did.

Commissioner Sitton’s piece focused on inaccurate media reporting around the issue of seismicity in Texas, but the truth is that he could have zeroed in on any number of other issues related to the oil and gas industry about which media coverage is often biased and/or inaccurate.  I add in the qualifier “and/or” because media outlets often provide coverage that can be technically described as “accurate” while giving the reader a highly inaccurate impression at the same time.

A great example of this manner of coverage came up in Texas this week with the release of a new “study” from two radical anti-development groups, Earthworks and a group of activists who call themselves the “Clean Air Task Force” (CATF).  The “study” is the latest in a long line of attempts by such groups to allege negative health impacts from oil and natural gas production in Texas.  This “study” – as products from these groups are wont to do – cherry-picks stale data, ignores a wealth of countervailing information, and fails to take into account a raft of recent state and federal regulations in its “analysis”.

I’m not going to give the report bandwidth by going into its details, other than to say it was not peer reviewed or scientifically conducted.  The CATF staffer who conducted its “study” is identified as a “Technical Analyst” who holds a masters degree in Public Policy along with a BA in History and Economics.  That’s a great education, but doesn’t exactly qualify anyone to study health effects from ozone and air emissions. Unsurprisingly, this person came to CATF via Union of Concerned Scientists, another leftwing radical anti-development group. If you want a full debunking of the study itself, follow this link.

The point of this piece is the manner in which this “study” was covered by multiple media outlets in Texas and elsewhere.  Within 24 hours of its release, the “study” had received coverage under inflammatory headlines from the Fort Worth Star Telegram, the Texas Tribune, the Texas Observer and the Denver Post.  It was pretty much uniformly portrayed as a legitimate study and without inclusion of an accurate description of the true nature of the sponsoring activist groups.

TAGS: Oil, Gas, Texas

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Written by: David Blackmon
Click HERE to Read Article From Publisher
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