“The goal of United Shale Advocates (USA) is to give a voice and a platform to those who support shale development in Pennsylvania but who are not directly involved in the industry”, said Steve Forde, vice president of communications and outreach for the Pittsburgh-based Marcellus Shale Coalition.
What does that mean? It means we have yet another fossil fuel funded public relations campaign masquerading as grassroots.
The term “grassroots” implies that the creation of the movement and the group happens at the local level, as many volunteers in the community give their time, energy and resources to work on an issue which concerns them. A true grassroots organization does not typically have the funding and organizational backing of a corporation or related lobbying or trade organization.
United Shale Advocates (USA) is GASROOTS not grassroots and is reminiscent of the Independent Petroleum Association of America’s (IPAA) public relation campaign Energy In Depth (EID), which also claimed “grassroots”.
USA is an illusion of widespread support by “regular people” of the fossil fuel industry’s activities in the Marcellus Shale region. It’s an illusion because it is created by and led by a fossil fuel funded lobbying organization.
USA was officially announced at a big meeting and press conference in March of 2014 and numerous articles have been written about it. The formation and launch of a real grassroots movement usually goes unnoticed by the media.
USA has a big splashy web site with nice slick photos and full of the standard fossil fuel talking points. One thing is missing – nowhere on the webpage does it mention any names of real people leading this supposed “grassroots” organization. On the CONTACT US page of the website, you are presented with a “form”. There are no names, no phone numbers, no addresses and no other way to contact USA. Conspicuous by its absence there is also no mention of MSC.
USA GASROOTS ON FACEBOOK
Another clue that USA is not grass roots is the “About” section of their facebook page.
United Shale Advocates (USA) as an online community for committed advocates of natural gas use and development.
“Online Community” implies real people, but is it really?
Reading USA’s Description you find:
United Shale Advocates is a coalition of natural gas companies, local businesses and citizens who are working together to educate the public about the benefits of shale gas around the world.
Note that COALITION OF NATURAL GAS COMPANIES is listed first and mention of citizens is third.
A real grassroots organization would have put people first, not corporations.
Clicking on links to events or “action items” will take you yet another USA Facebook page, but before you can access those other USA Facebook page you need to give USA permission to access your public profile, friend list, email address and likes.
Why do they want access to your Facebook account? One reason that comes to mind is they are paranoid about being followed by “non-believers of fracking”.
If USA/MSC doesn’t like your likes or friends will they bounce you from their pages?
And what’s up with wanting YOUR email address? I don’t know about you, but I get plenty of spam already.
FAST WORK RALLY
USA lost no time organizing a rally. It comes complete with bus transportation, “approved” signs to carry and “approved” t-shirts to wear.
Everything you need to put on GASROOTS show.
Control and coordination off this thinly disguised gasroots show is evident by the info waaaay at the bottom of the event sign-up page.
Note: * Transportation is limited to those authorized by the organizers of this event (United Shale Advocates and the Marcellus Shale Coalition). The Marcellus Shale Coalition reserves the right to approve or deny all transportation requests.
To join the “citizens” rally you need to be authorized by USA and MSC, furthermore MSC (not USA) has the right to approve or deny your request to attend.
LOSING THE MESSAGE
The fossil fuel industry has been operating in the Marcellus Shale area for many years. They have spent millions upon millions of dollars with all sorts of PR messaging on radio, television, print media, internet websites and social media in addition to the millions spent on campaign donations and lobby local, county, state and federal elected officials.
(SIDE NOTE: For those with gas leases, did you know MARKETING COSTS, which would include PR campaigns such as USA are deducted from your royalties?)
The fossil fuel industry has failed to fool real people.
Real people know that putting a pretty ribbon around a pile of poop doesn’t mask the smell or the fact that it’s still poop.
The other reason is it’s an election year. Their favorite advocate, PA Governor Tom Corbett is up for re-election, and his polling numbers are bad. Additionally, many Harrisburg legislators are also up for re-election, many of whom enjoy the financial benefits of the generous fossil fuel contributions.
The Democratic candidates have pretty much voiced support for a severance tax, and to some extent are calling for tougher regulations. The fossil fuel industry doesn’t like this, they prefer Gov. Corbett’s position of frack it all.
I’d like to mention one last thing. Corbett, many elected officials, the fossil fuel industry and their supporters often and repeatedly state that Pennsylvania has the toughest regulations when it comes to fossil fuel extraction.
The question we should be asking is NOT which state has the “toughest” regulations, but rather are the regulations tough enough to protect REAL people, our water, our air, our land, our food and our communities.
Given the fossil fuel’s track record in Pennsylvania and the response from PA Department of Environmental Protection – the answer to that question is “NO”.
©2014 by Dory Hippauf