We were intrigued by this “letter to the editor” because it was so obviously not from an ordinary newspaper reader and because its claims for the benefits of fracking even outranked the disproved claims the high speed rail hustlers have made for their visionary predations on public funds. So we began to ask a few questions about the “authorities” quoted by this Dave Quast, (we are sure) quite well paid hack for the frackers. We include the results of our research below, noting that it took about two hours to reveal this piece of oil-company propaganda for what it is. – blj
“Letter to the editor”
A Dec. 8 letter asks: "Exactly how many Californians will get out of the unemployment line due to fracking?" (we were unable to locate this letter on the Internet. A “Dec. 8 letter” where? –eds)
According to a study by the Craig School of Business at Fresno State, developing the Monterey shale could create up to 195,000 direct jobs and generate more than $22 billion in personal income in the unemployment-ravaged San Joaquin Valley. Further, a study by USC found that development of the Monterey shale could potentially create one million jobs by 2015 and 2.8 million by 2020.
Contrary to the author's claims, hydraulic fracturing does not pose a credible threat for earthquakes. A recent study from Durham University found "it is extremely unlikely that any of us will ever be able to feel an earthquake caused by fracking." A study from the National Research Council affirmed a low risk of fracking inducing a felt seismic event.
As for water contamination, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has said, "I still have not seen any evidence of fracking per se contaminating groundwater." Numerous Obama administration officials and state regulators agree.
The science clearly tells us that fracking is safe, and developing California's vast resources will create jobs and grow our economy. That's something we should welcome.
California Director of Energy in Depth
Our frack hack’s front group, “Energy in Depth,” describes itself as:
Launched by the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) in 2009, Energy In Depth (EID) is a research, education and public outreach campaign focused on getting the facts out about the promise and potential of responsibly developing America’s onshore energy resource base – especially abundant sources of oil and natural gas from shale and other “tight” formations across the country.
It’s an effort that benefits directly from the support, direction and technical expertise of a broad segment of America’s oil and natural gas industry, led in Washington by IPAA, and guided on the ground by IPAA’s more than 6,000 members and affiliates in the states.
The mission and purpose of IPAA, its parent organization, in its own words:
The Independent Petroleum Association of America is dedicated to ensuring a strong viable domestic oil and natural gas industry, recognizing that an adequate and secure supply of energy is essential to the national economy.
The Independent Petroleum Association of America is the national association representing the thousands of independent crude oil and natural gas explorer/producers in the United States. It also operates in close cooperation with 44 unaffiliated independent national, state and regional associations, which together represent thousands of royalty owners and the companies which provide services and supplies to the domestic industry.
The frack hack begins his propaganda letter to the editor with claims that fracking the Monterey Shale Formation will produce two hundred thousand jobs and $22 billion in personal income, “According to a study by the Craig School of Business at Fresno State.” This must be the only business school in the United States, possibly in the entire globe, that gives a damn about job creation. It’s just so radical it’s hard to believe. And right there in Fresno, financial center of San Joaquin Valley agribusiness, which has been mechanizing and technologizing to reduce the number of workers required for its operations ever since farming became agribusiness.
And likewise for the USC study, investigation of which led to the very apt new words, “frackademia” and “frackademics,” universities and professors producing PR for the fracking industry. We include Steve Horn’s rundown on the USC study in full from his blog, desmogblog.com.
"Frackademia" Strikes Again at USC with "Powering California" Study Release
"Frackademia" - shorthand for bogus science, economics and other research results paid for by the oil and gas industry and often conducted by "frackademics" with direct ties to the oil and gas industry - has struck again in California.
It comes in the form of a majorUniversity of Southern California (USC) report on the potential economic impacts of a hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") boom in California'sMonterey Shale basin that's hot off the presses, "Powering California: The Monterey Shale and California's Economic Future."
California Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown recently gave his cautious support to fracking, the toxic process via which oil and gas embedded deep within shale rock basins made famous by the documentary film "Gasland," currently a topic of contention in California. The new report gleefully says we could be witnessing 1849 all over again, the second-coming of a "Gold Rush," a term the co-authors utilize 9 times in the Preface.
The report, co-authored by a Los Angeles-based public relations firm, The Communications Institute (TCI), concludes that "development of the 1,750-square-mile formation in central California could generate half a million new jobs by 2015 and 2.8 million by 2020," as reported by The Los Angeles Times, which blared the headline, "Tapping California shale oil could add millions of jobs, study says."
Given California's population of 37,683,933 people, this would mean 7.4 percent of the state's citizens can gain employment and economic uplift from the industry. It would also shrink the 20.3-percent unemployment rate in the Golden State down drastically, to 12.9 percent.
"The Monterey shale would help stimulate the California economy to a significant extent," USC professor and co-author Adam Rose told The Times. "It's not just a benefit to the oil industry. These impacts ripple throughout the economy."
While a nice sentiment, the age-old questions quickly arise: who are the authors and who funded this study?
The answers to these questions, a DeSmogBlog investigation has revealed, paints an entirely different picture of the report's findings and how it came to such rosy conclusions.
Study Funded by Big Oil, Co-Author's Industry Connections Tell the Story
Off the bat, the report acknowledges financial support - though failing to disclose how much funding - from the Western States Petroleum Asssociation (WSPA). WSPA, "the oldest petroleum industry trade association in the United States," has a membership list that includes Chevron, ExxonMobil, Occidental Oil and Gas Corporation and Shell, to name several. All of these corporations are actively involved in exploration and prospective production of the Monterey Shale.
Just as importantly, one of the co-authors of the "study" - Fred Aminzadeh - is currently an oil and gas industry employee.
Aminzadeh serves as a Research Professor and Executive Director at USC's Global Energy Network (GEN) and Executive Director of USC's Reservoir Monitoring Consortium (RMC) and worked in various technical and management positions at Unocal - purchased by Chevron in 2005 - for 17 years.
GEN, credited as one of the report's lead conductors, does not list its funders, but given the steep membership fee - ranging between $25,000-$500,000 per year - one can safely guess that at least some of its funding comes from the deep pockets of the oil and gas industry. In fact, BP America, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Anadarko and General Electric all have members sitting on GEN's Advisory Board.
GEN, according to its website, pays The Communications Institute to do PR work on its behalf, and TCI registered the website the report was originally set to be published on, poweringcalifornia.org. In essence, this piece of the puzzle serves as Exhibit A of this study serving moreso as industry PR salesmanship than as legitimate scholarship.
RMC also does not list its funders, but its personnel, like GEN, are also directly tied to the oil and gas industry. All three members of its Technical Advisory Board have industry jobs. Andrei Popa works for Chevron; Kurt Strack is the President of KMS Technologies, an oil services corporation whose clients include BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Shell and Saudi Aramco; and Wang Shangxu is a professor at the China University of Petroleum.
Prior to coming to USC and after his Unocal stint, Aminzadeh was the CEO of dGB Earth Sciences USA, self-described as a firm that offers "innovative seismic interpretation solutions to the oil and gas industry."
Though he conveniently leaves it out of the biography he included in the report, Aminzadeh, alongside the paycheck he earns at USC, also serves asFounder and President of FACT-Corp. FACT is a global oil and gas industry consultancy firm whose technology partners include dGB Earth Sciences, where he used to be the CEO, as well as clients such as Chevron, BP, Saudi Aramco and Eni.
Aminzadeh is also Chairman of the Advisory Board of both Western Standard Energy Corp. and is also on the Advisory Board of Saratoga Resources andformely served on the DOE Unconventional Resources Technology Advisory Committee from 2007-2008, right as the fracking boom was beginning in the U.S.
The latter committee was created under the dictates of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 in Sec. 999, which calls for the DOE to work with oil and gas industry stakeholders to "carry out a program of research, development, demonstration, and commercial application of technologies for...onshore unconventional natural gas."
John Martin - former head of the now-shuttered SUNY Buffalo Shale Resources and Society Institute (SRSI), peer reviewer of the Inglewood Oil Field environmental impact assessment (done by the same contractor the Obama State Department used for the first TransCanada Keystone XL environmental review, Cardno Entrix) that concluded fracking in Los Angeles would have no negative ecological impacts, and head of his oil and gas consultancy firm JP Martin Energy Strategy - currently serves on the DOE Unconventional Resources Technology Advisory Committee.
Outside Reviewers Tied to Big Oil
The non-peer-reviewed "study" wasn't published in an academic journal, but rather was published "in association with" TCI - a PR firm - on its website. Though not peer-reviewed in accordance to conventional legitimate academic standards, the co-authors did thank three people for "taking the time to review this study."
Two of those three people, it turns out, also have direct ties to the oil and gas industry.
One of them is Harvard's Henry Lee. His CV details his past work as a consultant for General Electric, Gulf Oil and Texaco, the latter of which Chevron purchased as a wholly-owned subsidiary in 2002.
The other: Hillard Huntington, Executive Director of Stanford's Energy Modeling Forum (EMF), is one of 200 members of the National Petroleum Council (NPC). The NPC is a federally-chartered, corporate-funded advisory committee started by President Harry Truman in 1946, now overseen by the DOE under the dictates of the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972. Its purpose is "to advise, inform and make recommendations to the [DOE] with respect to any matter relating to oil and natural gas, or to the oil and gas industries."
NPC's membership includes former Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon, Chevron CEO John Watson, ExxonMobil former CEO Lee Raymond and current CEO Rex Tillerson, former Shell North America CEO John Hoffmeister, and TransCanada (of contentious Keystone XL fame) CEO Russ Girling, among many others.
Huntington's EMF is funded by the oil and gas industry as well, with partners including the likes of Saudi Aramco, American Petroleum Institute, BP America, Chevron, ExxonMobil and others.
Public Relations and Advocacy Costumed as Scholarship
USC's report is now the second case of "frackademia" in the state of California in the past half-year and another example of the oil and gas industry's public relations strategy espoused at the Nov. 2011 "Media & Stakeholder Relations: Hydraulic Fracturing Initiative" conference held in Houston, TX.
At that same Houston conference in which Range Resources PR flack Matt Pitzarella admitted his company utilizes psychogical warfare personnel and techniques in the communities in which Range operates, New York Independent Oil and Gas Association's S. Dennis Holbrook stated that it's crucial for industry to "seek out academic studies and champion with universities—because that again provides tremendous credibility to the overall process" because the gas industry is viewed "very skeptically" by the public.
SUNY Buffalo came under fire in the second half of 2012 for partaking in the industry's shady PR game made public at that Houston conference, ending its SRSI after months of outside agitation from critics. With time we'll see if the same endgame is in-store at USC.
As for the innocuous reference to Durham University, concerned Britons, a number of them Oxford University graduates, were highly critical when Oxford formed a partnership last year with Shell Oil Co. for fracking research, lamenting that Oxford (the elder university by seven centuries) would follow the path of Durham University’s partnerships with Shell, Chevron and PB. (May 6, 2013, “Shell funds shale gas research at Oxford University,” Extreme Energy Initative).
As for “National Research Council,” that title was so vague it sent us to the “disambiguation” page on Wikipedia.
Re: Energy Secretary Earnest Moniz, we are grateful again to Steve Horn for his illuminating research into Moniz's ties to the fracking industry:
Ties That Bind: Ernest Moniz, Keystone XL Contractor, American Petroleum Institute and Fracked Gas Exports
Congress will review the Obama Administration's nomination of Ernest Moniz for Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE) in hearings that start today, April 9.
Moniz has come under fire for his outspoken support of nuclear power,hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") for shale gas and the overarching "all-of-the-above" energy policy advocated by both President Barack Obama and his Republican opponent in the last election, Mitt Romney.
Watchdogs have also discovered that Moniz has worked as a long-time corporate consultant for BP. He has also received the "frackademic" label for his time spent at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At his MIT job, Moniz regularly accepted millions of dollars from the oil and gas industry to sponsor studies under the auspices of The MIT Energy Initiative, which has received over $145 million over its seven-year history from the oil and gas industry.
MIT's "The Future of Natural Gas" report, covered by many mainstream media outlets without any effort to question who bankrolled it, was funded chiefly by the American Clean Skies Foundation, a front group for the shale gas industry's number two domestic producer, Chesapeake Energy. That report concluded that gas is a "bridge fuel" for a renewable energy future and said that shale gas exports were in the best economic interests of the United States, which should "not erect barriers to natural gas imports and exports."
As first revealed on DeSmogBlog, Moniz is also on the Board of Directors of ICF International, one of the three corporate consulting firms tasked to perform the Supplemental Environmental Impact Study (SEIS) for TransCanada's Keystone XL (KXL) tar sands pipeline. KXL is slated to bring tar sands - also known as"diluted bitumen," or "dilbit" - from Alberta to Port Arthur, TX, where it will be sold to the highest bidder on the global export market.
Moniz earned over $300,000 in financial compensation in his two years sitting on the Board at ICF, plus whatever money his 10,000+ shares of ICF stock have earned him.
Moniz's American Petroleum Institute Ties to Shale Gas Export Advocacy
Another controversial oil and gas industry export plan exists for fracking.
In this arena, the DOE - via the consulting firm National Economic Research Associates (NERA), a firm with historical ties to Big Tobacco - said exports of the U.S. shale gas bounty (LNG exports) were in the best economic interests of the U.S. in its long-awaited Dec. 2012 report.
In a Feb. 2013 follow-up report the American Petroleum Institute (API) sang the same tune, agreeing with the NERA assessment. In actuality, that report was not even done by API itself, but instead was outsourced to ICF International.
If he receives congressional confirmation, this means Moniz will jump ship from his ICF Board of Directors position and have the final say over DOE LNG export decisions.
While heading the MIT Energy Initiative, Moniz also worked alongside John Deutch.
Deutch headed the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) under President Bill Clinton and now serves as head of the Board of Directors of Cheniere Energy, a corporation that owns many proposed LNG export terminals along the Gulf coast.
Cheniere was the first corporation to sign a deal to export gas from its Sabine Pass terminal
and it recently filed a
. He also headed the
DOE fracking subcommitteeconvened by President Obama in May 2011, which