Tuesday, September 13, 2011

“The favorable perception of the oil and gas industry polls at seven percent — that’s lower than Congress. The public does not believe us. "

Sep 13th, 2011 | By fjgallagher

The shale gas industry has had its collective ass kicked, and kicked hard, by Gasland and others opposed to hydraulic fracturing and needs to redefine its core messages to defuse a burgeoning negative public perception of the controversial drilling technique, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA) said today.

“What we’ve seen in the last few years, and I hope it’s peaking, is a completely heightened public awareness around hydraulic fracturing and an increase in active opposition,” Tisha Conoly-Schuller said this afternoon. “I hate to credit the movie Gasland, but it’s really changed the conversation.”

Conoly-Schuller made her comments to a group of shale gas industry executives as the Keynote Speaker on the opening day of the “Enhancing Shale Oil & Gas Development Strategies” conference in Denver, Colorado. The conference, organized by Marcus Evans, will continue throughout tomorrow.

The conference offers industry executives a variety of workshops and panel discussions on using “drilling, completion and reservoir engineering knowledge to advance exploration and diversify shale portfolios,” according to material prepared by Marcus Evans describing the event.

NaturalGasWatch.org has been designated the “Official Blogger” of the conference, and is not receiving any compensation from the industry in exchange for writing about the event.

Conoly-Schuller noted that the opposition to hydraulic fracturing — or “fracking” as it has come to be known in the parlance of our times — has evolved remarkably over the last few years, even though the science and empirical data related to hydraulic fracturing indicates that the practice has nothing to do with water contamination.

Shale gas industry executives credit the movie, "Gasland" with helping to shape public opinion about hydraulic fracturing, even though they say there is no proof that the practice contributes to contaminated drinking water. Image from the film, "Gasland."

“The flaming faucet — that was disproven by the Colorado Oil & Gas Authority,” Conoly-Schuller said. “The methane in that well was naturally occurring. People have been lighting their water on fire in that area for 100 years. Josh Fox knows this and he has never admitted it — and he’s working on Gasland II.”

Today, she explained, those opposed to hydraulic fracturing can no longer be characterized as environmental extremists because the movement has gone mainstream. She credited Fox, the producer of the movie, Gasland, which helped to coalesce opposition to fracking, with playing a large role in that shift.

As a result, Conoly-Schuller continued, the industry needs to change not only its messaging, but how it delivers its key talking points.

“The favorable perception of the oil and gas industry polls at seven percent — that’s lower than Congress. The public does not believe us. "

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