FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Fracking Good Letter

by

The oil and gas industry has retreated from its entrenched position to have the public delete the “k” in “fracking,” and write it as “frac’ing” or “fracing.” Those who have been the strongest advocates for fracking scorned and mocked those who place the “k” in the word. The problem is that without the “k,” the word sounds like “frasing.” However, the first use of the word “fracking” can be traced to an oil and gas journal article in 1953.

As hydraulic horizontal fracturing became a standard to extract gas and oil about 2008, anti-fracking activists began using the word—with the “k”—in advertising, social media, and public protest campaigns that slyly bordered on the obscene—“Frack off!” and “No Fracking Way!”

The oil and gas industry, faced with being the brunt of a series of near-obscene jokes, dug in and demanded that “unconventional drilling” or just “horizontal fracturing” were the “proper” terms. But, if “fracking” had to be used in print, the preference was for “frac’ing” or “fracing.” Most dictionaries—including the Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster—use the word “fracking”–with the “k”—as the preferred and acceptable term.

In September, the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC), a front group for the oil and gas industry became proactive with a series of newspaper, radio, TV, and YouTube ads. The ads, scheduled to run through the beginning of 2015, were revealed at the annual Shale Insight conference, sponsored by the MSC in Pittsburgh.

The fractivists “tried to hijack that word and paint it as something negative,” David J. Spigelmyer, MSC president, said, pointing out it was the industry’s intention “to take that word back.” Randy Cleveland, XTO Energy president, told the conference where people said “frac’ing,” the industry thrived, but where they said “ ‘fracking,’ we have difficulty.” The PR and advertising campaign, said Cleveland, is “to regain the high ground.”

Stephen Moore, chief economist for the conservative Heritage Foundation, told the conference, “The disinformation and propaganda machine against what you do is frightening,” adding that the campaign against fracking “may have been instigated by outside agitators.” It was a claim echoed by thousands in the industry.

With absolutely no proof, Moore was referring to the possibility that Russia and the oil-rich oil countries, and not millions of Americans, were behind the anti-fracking campaign. Russia’s Gazprom is the world’s largest natural gas distribution company, and many in the U.S. oil/gas industry believe Gazprom or Vladimir Putin wanted to increase Russia’s share and domination of the natural gas industry by closing down American natural gas production. The same gaseous windbags blamed the Arab countries for being anti-fracking because they were making money off oil and didn’t want competition. None acknowledged that the Arab countries have been far ahead of the United States in the development of renewable energy, knowing that fossil fuel contributes to global warming, is not infinite, and there are no more dinosaurs willing to die to allow greedy corporations to make outrageous profits.

Nevertheless, the industry is digging in and defending not only its destruction of the environment and public health—which it doesn’t acknowledge, even though dozens of peer-reviewed scientific studies indicate otherwise—but to recapture “fracking”— with a “k”—as good and pure.

In the newspaper ad, the word “fracking” is used five times; the largest word in the ad is “JOBS”—the ad emphasized job creation, using the inflated and discredited number of 240,000. (The Pennsylvania Fiscal Office reports only about 17,500 new jobs were created since 2007. Dr. Tim Kelsey, Penn State professor of agricultural economics, reports that at most there were fewer than 35,000 jobs, only about half in the core industry. No matter what the critical number is, Pennsylvania was 49th in the nation in jobs creation in 2012, two years after it was ranked seventh in the nation.)

Anchoring the ad is a new aphorism: “FRACKING: ROCK SOLID FOR PA.” In radio and TV ads, a girl says, “Fracking rocks! My dad does it.” At the conclusion of a three-minute YouTube video, in which a series of rumors was replaced by a series of half-truth “facts,” one of the narrators tells the audience, “Fracking, a good word,” and concludes with the newly-created motto. One of those many half-truths is that fracking has been around for more than six decades and has been proven to be safe. That part is relatively accurate—but it is “vertical” fracking, an entire different process than the recently-developed “horizontal” fracking, that has been around since shortly after World War II. Horizontal fracking uses significantly more water, sand, and toxic chemicals, and has significantly more methane leaks than vertical fracking.

No matter how well the industry tries to shine up its 120-foot phallic-like rigs and spew prattling absurdity, the reality is that fracking has not added much to the economy or many new jobs. As in every other energy development, when mining the gas becomes unprofitable, possibly within five years in the Marcellus Shale, the industry will move elsewhere and continue the “boom and bust” economy. What it has done is to cause additional problems leading to increases in air, water, and ground pollution. It has caused documented health problems. And, it has, despite all the PR about “clean energy,” contributed to global warming.

Walter Brasch, an award-winning journalist and former reporter and editor, is the author of 20 books. The most recent book is Fracking Pennsylvania: Flirting With Disaster, an overall look at the health, environmental, agricultural, and economic effects of fracking, combined with an investigation into the connections between politics and the oil/gas industry.

More articles by:

Walter Brasch is an award-winning social issues journalist. His latest book is Fracking Pennsylvania, an analysis of the history, economics, and politics of fracking, as well as its environmental and health effects.

February 21, 2018
Ajamu Baraka
Venezuela: Revenge of the Mad-Dog Empire
Edward Hunt
Treating North Korea Rough
Binoy Kampmark
Meddling for Empire: the CIA Comes Clean
Ron Jacobs
Stamping Out Hunger
Ammar Kourany – Martha Myers
So, You Think You Are My Partner? International NGOs and National NGOs, Costs of Asymmetrical Relationships
Michael Welton
1980s: From Star Wars to the End of the Cold War
Judith Deutsch
Finkelstein’s on Gaza: Who or What Has a Right to Exist? 
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
War Preparations on Venezuela as Election Nears
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Military Realities
Steve Early
Refinery Safety Campaign Frays Blue-Green Alliance
Ali Mohsin
Muslims Face Increasing Discrimination, State Surveillance Under Trump
Julian Vigo
UK Mass Digital Surveillance Regime Ruled Illegal
Peter Crowley
Revisiting ‘Make America Great Again’
Andrew Stewart
Black Panther: Afrofuturism Gets a Superb Film, Marvel Grows Up and I Don’t Know How to Review It
CounterPunch News Service
A Call to Celebrate 2018 as the Year of William Edward Burghardt Du Bois by the Saturday Free School
February 20, 2018
Nick Pemberton
The Gun Violence the Media Shows Us and the State Violence They Don’t
John Eskow
Sympathy for the Drivel: On the Vocabulary of President Nitwit
John Steppling
Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk Into a Bar…
John W. Whitehead
America’s Cult of Violence Turns Deadly
Ishmael Reed
Charles F. Harris: He Popularized Black History
Will Podmore
Paying the Price: the TUC and Brexit
George Burchett
Plumpes Denken: Crude thinking
Binoy Kampmark
The Caring Profession: Peacekeeping, Blue Helmets and Sexual Abuse
Lawrence Wittner
The Trump Administration’s War on Workers
David Swanson
The Question of Sanctions: South Africa and Palestine
Walter Clemens
Murderers in High Places
Dean Baker
How Does the Washington Post Know that Trump’s Plan Really “Aims” to Pump $1.5 Trillion Into Infrastructure Projects?
February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
Sheldon Richman
‘Peace Through Strength’ is a Racket
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Taking on the Pentagon
Patrick Cockburn
People Care More About the OXFAM Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic
Ted Rall
On Gun Violence and Control, a Political Gordian Knot
Binoy Kampmark
Making Mugs of Voters: Mueller’s Russia Indictments
Dave Lindorff
Mass Killers Abetted by Nutjobs
Myles Hoenig
A Response to David Axelrod
Colin Todhunter
The Royal Society and the GMO-Agrochemical Sector
Cesar Chelala
A Student’s Message to Politicians about the Florida Massacre
Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail