New Evidence Exposes Gov. Kasich's Role in PR Plan to Promote Fracking in State Parks
As reported Sunday, new evidence was released today showing Ohio Gov. Kasich's involvement in the communications plan that detailed how the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) would “marginalize” opponents of fracking by teaming up with “allied” corporations—including Halliburton, business groups and media outlets—to promote this controversial drilling technique in state parks.
Among the Kasich staff invited to the meeting were: Gov. Kasich Communication Director Scott Milburn, Chief of Staff Beth Hansen, Senior Advisor Jai Chabria, former Director of Legislative Affairs Matt Carle (now Gov. Kasich’s campaign manager) and former Policy Advisor Craig Butler (now Kasich’s Ohio Environmental Protection Agency director).
“It is simply astonishing that the agency tasked with protecting the environment would see Halliburton as a friend and the Sierra Club as an enemy,” said Deb Nardone, director of the Sierra Club Beyond Natural Gas Campaign. “It’s shocking to see an orchestrated PR hit job in black and white.”
The communications plan refers to stakeholders and key influencers, and refers to adversarial opinion leaders as “‘eco-left’ pressure groups” and goes on to say, “opponents will attempt to create public panic about perceived health risks” and “opponents’ proxies in the media will slant news coverage against us.”
One of the communication objectives in the document states, “Marginalize the effectiveness of communications by adversaries about the initiative.”
The document lists the following as opposition groups and forums:
- The Sierra Club
- The Ohio Environmental Council
- Rep. Robert Hagan
- Rep. Nickie Antonio
- WaterKeeper Alliance
- OMB Watch
- Marcellus Earth First
- Marcellus Shale Protest
- The Natural Resource Defense Council
The document lists the following as allied groups and forums:
- Natural Resources Advisory Board
- Chambers of Commerce, including Ohio, Canton, Cambridge and U.S Chamber
- Ohio Oil and Gas Association
- America’s Natural Gas Alliance/Regina Hopper
"Our state government should not be frittering valuable time and taxpayer money on a PR campaign designed to 'neutralize' legitimate concerns about impacts to public lands and public health and safety from fracking in our state parks and forests," said Nathan Johnson, staff attorney for the Ohio Environmental Council, one of the groups listed in the document.
"The ODNR should be an impartial watchdog, not an industry cheerleader. It's shocking to learn that ODNR laid plans to actively enlist the help of extractive industries to 'marginalize' respected voices for the preservation of our natural heritage.
"The public would be better served if ODNR focused its public relations efforts, instead, on more constructive efforts. They could start by helping the public understand the basic link between the rate of taxation on oil and gas production and funding for more adequate state oversight and enforcement of oil and gas regulations.
"It is interesting to note that the communication plan listed 'disseminate videos about inspections' to help garner favor for public lands drilling. This is hardly a selling-point, however. An analysis of ODNR records reveal that only 1 in 10 active oil and gas wells in Ohio were inspected by ODNR officials in 2010," Johnson concluded.
The ODNR goes as far as saying in the PR document that “this initiative could blur public perception of ODNR’s regulatory role in oil and gas,” and will require “precise messaging and coordination” to eliminate confusion.
“There are valid concerns about fracking, which the plan seems to disregard," said Katherine McFate, president and CEO of the Center for Effective Government, which operates OMB Watch, one of the groups targeted in the plan.
"A recent Associated Press investigation found documented cases of water contamination from fracking in Ohio, and other studies have shown a link between earthquakes and the drilling practice, including one in Youngstown in late 2011. The Ohio DNR should be spending its time and resources wisely, protecting citizens from real harm rather than denying known risks."
A second press event will take place at the Ohio Statehouse tomorrow where Representatives Hagan and Antonio will discuss how the Kasich administration’s cozy relationship with the oil and gas industry is putting corporate interests over the public concerns of safety and job opportunities with regard to fracking in state parks.
“As a state legislator, it is my duty to advocate for the safety and health of our constituents and to respond to their concerns by raising questions and demanding answers,” Rep. Hagan said.
“The oil and gas industry would love nothing more than to sweep those concerns under the rug, and it appears that they have enthusiastic partners in Governor Kasich and the ODNR.”
Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.
Britain's Prince William interviewed famed broadcaster David Attenborough on Tuesday at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Switzerland.
During the sit-down, the 92-year-old naturalist advised the world leaders and business elite gathered in Davos this week that we must respect and protect the natural world, adding that the future of its survival—as well as humanity's survival—is in our hands.
What's more, the accounting firm predicts that another 21 million electric cars will be on the road globally over the next decade due to growing market demand for clean transportation, government subsidies, as well as bans on fossil fuel cars.
By Matthew Savoca
Plastic pollution in the world's oceans has become a global environmental crisis. Many people have seen images that seem to capture it, such as beaches carpeted with plastic trash or a seahorse gripping a cotton swab with its tail.
Greenland is melting about four times faster than it was in 2003, a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found, a discovery with frightening implications for the pace and extent of future sea level rise.
"We're going to see faster and faster sea level rise for the foreseeable future," study lead author and Ohio State University geodynamics professor Dr. Michael Bevis said in a press release. "Once you hit that tipping point, the only question is: How severe does it get?"
Finally, some good news about the otherwise terrible partial government shutdown. A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration cannot issue permits to conduct seismic testing during the government impasse.
The Justice Department sought to delay—or stay—a motion filed by a range of coastal cities, businesses and conservation organizations that are suing the Trump administration over offshore oil drilling, Reuters reported. The department argued that it did not have the resources it needed to work on the case due to the shutdown.
Most people have heard of the Amazon, South America's famed rainforest and hub of biological diversity. Less well known, though no less critical, is the Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetland.
Like the Amazon, the Pantanal is ecologically important and imperiled. Located primarily in Brazil, it also stretches into neighboring Bolivia and Paraguay. Covering an area larger than England at more than 70,000 square miles, the massive wetland provides irreplaceable ecosystem services that include the regulation of floodwaters, nutrient renewal, river flow for navigability, groundwater recharge and carbon sequestration. The wetland also supports the economies of the four South American states it covers.
By Andrea Germanos
Organizers said 35,000 people marched through the streets of the German capital on Saturday to say they're "fed up" with industrial agriculture and call for a transformation to a system that instead supports the welfare of the environment, animals and rural farmers.
By Patrick Rogers
If you have ever considered making the switch to an environmentally friendly electric vehicle, don't drag your feet. Though EV prices are falling, and states are unveiling more and more public charging stations and plug-in-ready parking spots, the federal government is doing everything it can to slam the brakes on our progress away from gas-burning internal combustion engines. President Trump, likely pressured by his allies in the fossil fuel industry, has threatened to end the federal tax credits that have already helped put hundreds of thousands of EVs on the road—a move bound to harm not only our environment but our economy, too. After all, the manufacturing and sale of EVs, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids supported 197,000 jobs in 2017, according to the most recent U.S. Energy and Employment Report.