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Friday, October 11, 2013

Controlling the message

On Thursday, the fracking industry's mouthpiece, the Marcellus Shale Coalition, held an invitation-only "educational" meeting for local elected officials in Washington County - a county they've essentially taken over - an area where many fracking-related accidents and illnesses have been reported. Interestingly, the press and certain local officials were excluded. Those officials who have been asking hard questions about worker safety, about radioactivity in our rivers (which ultimately become our drinking water), about the destruction to our landbase that NO amount of the much-vaunted impact fees will ever rebuild once the frackers have fracked us...those people were not welcome, not invited. (News of the event was reported, but what was actually said was not, to be clear.) Industry-friendly non-officials running for office were certainly invited; they spent valuable time last night, glad-handing the conveniently assembled elected officials, greasing their way to election victory.

Controlling the message... .

What is the Marcellus Shale Coalition afraid of? If they are so sure of the safety of fracking, why do they feel the need exclude the public's access to just how they are "educating" our elected officials? Dangling the promises of tantalizing impact fees and much-needed jobs in the faces of township supervisors - officials who want to believe that the jobs will be safe (they aren't), that the water won't be polluted (it is) - all the while dismissing the MANY downsides of this boom-bust, polluting, industrial process... . What an unethical, immoral way to do business.

It is however, demonstrably, "standard operating procedure" for the Marcellus Shale Coalition members; their modus operandi is exactly that: Isolate the decision-makers, feed them industry propaganda, pay them off if you have to, all while saturating the public airwaves and billboards with rosy pictures of fracking prosperity. It's helpful when PA senators like Tim Solobay (D-Canonsburg) are on board as head fracking cheerleaders. (MSC must've bought him a coffee or two; although for his sake, if said coffees were made with Canonsburg water and consumed breathing the air near a Washington County fracking site, he might want to be concerned.) Yup, "enlist" insider power brokers.

Oh, yes, and demonize anyone who asks the hard questions. And keep them out of the "educational" meetings, where their insights might cause those being "educated" to see/hear a rather more complicated picture than the simplistic, drill-baby-drill one.

Can you say "undemocratic"? Can you say "tactics one sees in controlled nation-states like Russia," countries/economies who have no interest in an informed populace? Why here, in God Bless America, where we pride ourselves on truth and honesty (supposedly), where in fact people simplistically wrap themselves in Old Glory and apple pie, all while applauding the corporate scoundrels as they bleed the vast majority of us dry?

What happens outside the light of day, in closed meetings, cannot be trusted, especially when the only true concern of industry behind those doors is their bottom line. They don't give a crap about Pennsylvania, people, and after the last bubble of natural gas is sucked out of the Marcellus shale in 10-15 years, they will turn off the lights and leave... . 

We will be left with the devastation.

Industry-cleansed "education" needs to be questioned, needs to be open for rebuttal, and for comprehensive press reporting.