Thursday, April 19, 2012

What's in a Word?

Reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled. ~ Richard P. Feynman

The words used in any public relations campaign are extremely important.  Words (and images) do create the framework to influence public opinion.  The Natural Gas corporations know they have a public perception problem and are in the process of finding and defining new "buzzwords".  

The pattern the Natural Gas industry and it's front groups have devised may be broken down into what I call the 4-Ds:

DENY there is a problem.      
DISTRACT the public.

DISTORT the facts.
DELAY official proceedings
You may have noticed over the past few years, whenever a serious and hazardous event occurs, or there is a report/news article released which highlights the problems of Natural Gas activities - the Marcellus Shale Coalition(MSC) immediately sends out a press release.  These press releases typically ignore the "problem" or "issue" at hand to distract public scrutiny.

They rely on short attention spans and short memories.

Below is a letter, from a fellow fracktivist.  She takes a look at the rhetoric emerging from Kathryn Klaber, Executive Director of the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC).

 Dear Fellows,

Part of what is so disturbing about this letter is the care taken to craft a rhetoric that makes the shale industry sound reasonable--it's an excellent sample of the work and care Kathryn Klaber--who is certainly not stupid--is willing to go to to insure the industry's objectives. The strategy of this letter, I think, is this:

1. Generate sympathy for a "struggling" industry by pointing out "price differential between natural gas and oil." Consider: "Poor poor frackers--we need to do everything we can to help these nice working folks who

2. Just want to bring wealth and prosperity to all Pennsylvanians, and who love those pesky environmentalists and other assorted do-gooders even though they're, well, rather in the way of

3. Fracking, and all those fracking-profits. So,

4. Can't we all just be reasonable? That is, can't we just step aside and let those smart folks and their bought off university professors, elected representatives, government representatives, tell us what "reasonable" means?

5. And what does "reasonable " mean? Well, reasonable might mean "regulation" if we weren't in a recession, but since we are, regulation just needs to wait for another day. Right now, folks need all those natural gas benefits like jobs, and collateral industry and such--and well, we can all stand a teeny bit of dirt, can't we, for the sake of all those wondrous profits that will trickle down to Pennsylvania citizens and communities."

The trouble with all of this, of course, is that its false.

Staggeringly false.

From the exploitation of the "recession" (at least in PA) as a way to justify what amounts to a fracking-free-for-all to the claims about jobs to the use of buzz words like

  • "Reasonable,": No regulations, thanks--unless they're ours, in which case, let's call them "Schmegulations.".
  • "Uniform": Whatever we say goes.
  • "Safety": "Did somebody say "safety"? Safety Schmafety!"
  • "Growth": Profiteering; Profits out the wazoo for a few.
  • "Market dynamic": "The fake free market's not quite as awesomely profitable for us as it would be if we could pillage without end."
  • "We wish to commend you for your work": "Get out of our goddamn way. And THANKS! We just knew you would. Let's smooch."
  • "Nation’s Energy Security": "the conversion of America to America, Inc. by way of fear-mongering slimy appeals to patriotism. Only them damn communist lefty-environmentalists would oppose fracking--so opposition=anti-American."
  • "These enhanced standards are not without cost": Didn't I already ask you to get out of the damn way? And t
  • "Impact fee": "sure, we'll toss your communities a crumb in exchange for their wholesale capitulation to, say, fracking 1000 ft from a public school."
  • "The magnified impact of any increased costs in the current economic situation for natural gas producers": Poor poor Aubrey McClendon--it's just not enough to be the highest paid CEO in America, Inc."
And on and on and on. THIS is nothing at all but a rapacious wolf in a very thin sheep outfit. It is monumentally insulting, and represents the lengths to which the MSC will go to manipulate and extort our ELECTED representatives--representatives that are already in bed with the frackers.

The only question that's really important here is: What are we going to DO about this? I write and write and write about this issue, I share posts on Facebook with hundreds of like-minded folks. I rant. I rave. I bitch. But we all know that what's going on here is the RAPE of our state forests, our game-lands, our WATER, our private properties, and our communities, and we all KNOW that the price we are preparing to pay for what jobs there are vastly exceeds the value of those jobs, and we all KNOW that the health risks are immense and that these risks will be borne entirely by regular folks like US. We all KNOW that this letter is just the latest masturbatory exchange in the sick romance between the industry and the state it effectively owns.

So, I keep thinking I still live in a free country where the people have a voice about the conditions under which they are expected to live. Have we conceded this to the corporate profiteers? Are we comfortable with corporate feudalism? What are we going to DO? I'm a writer, and I'm getting tired of writing.

Wendy Lynne Lee

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