‘Energy In Depth’ Was Created By Major Oil and Gas Companies According to Industry Memo

Thu, 2011-02-17 03:35Brendan DeMelle
Brendan DeMelle's picture

‘Energy In Depth’ Was Created By Major Oil and Gas Companies According to Industry Memo

Update 11:35am PST: IPAA link is broken again, so use this link to view the memo.

Update 9:48am PST: It looks like the IPAA link works again. Here is the original link. In case similar access issues arise, I will continue to host the document at DeSmogBlog.

*Update 9:03am PST: It appears IPAA may have removed the memo from its website today in the wake of this report, so I have attached it to this post as a PDF and updated the links in the post so the memo is available for the world to see.

DeSmogBlog has uncovered an industry memo revealing that ‘Energy In Depth’ is hardly comprised of the mom-and-pop “small, independent oil and natural gas producers” it claims to represent.  In fact, the industry memo we found, entitled “Hydraulic Fracturing Under Attack,” shows that Energy In Depth “would not be possible without the early financial commitments” of major oil and gas interests including BP, Halliburton, Chevron, Shell, XTO Energy (now owned by ExxonMobil), and several other huge oil and gas companies that provided significant funding early on and presumably still fund the group’s efforts.

According to the 2009 memo, Energy In Depth was orchestrated as a “major initiative to respond to…attacks” and to devise and circulate “coordinated messages” using “new communications tools that are becoming the pathway of choice in national political campaigns.”

Energy In Depth (EID) is featured in the news a lot these days, chiefly for attacking the Oscar-nominated documentary Gasland, but also for its extensive efforts to malign the excellent reporting done by ProPublica, the Associated Press and other outlets. EID seems to attack everyone who attempts to investigate the significant problems posed by hydraulic fracturing and other natural gas industry practices that have been shown to threaten public health and water quality across America.

Here is how Energy In Depth describes itself on its ‘Contact Us’ page:

“Energy In Depth is a project of America’s small, independent oil and natural gas producers…”

    While EID prefers to project this ‘mom and pop shop’ image, the June 2009 memo authored by Barry Russell, president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), reveals the seed funding provided by many of the world’s largest oil and gas companies for the creation of Energy In Depth.

    The memo states:

    “The “Energy In Depth” project would not be possible without the early financial commitments of: El Paso Corporation, XTO Energy, Occidental Petroleum, BP, Anadarko, Marathon, EnCana, Chevron, Talisman, Shell, API, IPAA, Halliburton, Schlumberger and the Ohio Oil and Gas Association.”


    However, none of these major oil and gas companies, or the industry’s largest trade association - the American Petroleum Institute - are acknowledged on the ‘About Us’ page of Energy In Depth’s website.

    Instead, Energy In Depth portrays modest origins, suggesting that its “website and affiliated educational programs were created by” a coalition of state-based oil and gas associations, whose logos are featured on the ‘About Us’ page.  This all seems designed to leave the impression that the EID was launched by small, “independent petroleum producers” rather than by the largest oil and gas companies on the planet.

    Additionally, Enegy In Depth fails to acknowledge openly that its website URL was created by Dittus Communications, a Washington DC public relations firm best known for its work for major tobacco and nuclear industry interests. (Dittus is now part of Financial Dynamics, an international communications conglomerate.)

    For a group that has accused Gasland director Josh Fox of creating an “alternate history,” and claims to want to “set the record straight” about the motives of anyone who dares to question the natural gas industry’s highly controversial hydrofracking practices, EID seems awfully disingenuous about its own ‘humble’ beginnings and ultimate interests.

    The memo reveals the key role that the Independent Petroleum Association of America played in launching Energy In Depth:

    “For months, IPAA’s government relations and communications teams have been working around-the-clock on a new industry-wide campaign – known as “Energy In Depth” (www.energyindepth.org) – to combat new environmental regulations, especially with regard to hydraulic fracturing.”


    Two IPAA staffers, Lee Fuller and Jeff Eshelman, spearheaded the launch. Chris Tucker is also listed as staff on the current ‘Contact Us’ page.  Tucker did double duty in 2009 handling communications for Energy In Depth and the Institute for Energy Research, using the same phone number for both. (IER has received over $300,000 from ExxonMobil and an untold amount from other oil and coal interests to confuse the public about climate change and to attack clean energy sources. For example, IER was busted last year by Danish journalists for financing an infamous anti-wind study.)

    Why would Energy In Depth want to hide its high-profile sources of funding? 

    Perhaps because these same companies are responsible for some of the worst environmental disasters in history, including last year’s BP/Halliburton/Anadarko blowout in the Gulf of Mexico; Shell’s multiple atrocities in Nigeria; Chevron’s court-affirmed destruction of the Amazon rainforest; El Paso Corp’s deadly pipeline explosion in Carlsbad, New Mexico; Occidental’s Piper Alpha explosion - the deadliest oil rig disaster in history; to name just a few incidents among this group. 

    Perhaps Energy In Depth thinks it might lose credibility with the media and the public if it revealed such key support from these notoriously reckless companies.

    Perhaps it should?

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    Comments

    So Energy in Depth is funded by the gas industry? Is that shocking or outrageous - or unexpected? The only controversy is over whether its funded by the moms and pops or the corporates. To be fair to EID, it is far more up front about funding that American Clean Skies for example.

    I have posted on Gasland frequently at www.nohotair.co.uk. I do not get any corporate funding, wish I was so lucky.

    Maybe, just maybe it wont win the Oscar because there are better movies in the category? Gasland is to energy what MMR controversy is to medical research. What I cant figure out is why people who accept the scientific consensus that global warming is real (as I do, I hasten to note), will not accept the similar consensus that shale gas, while just as imperfect as any other form of energy, is perfectly safe when properly regulated.
    Gasland is part of the Green Tea Party. They exist in an echo chamber where they only speak to one another (note how Fox never speaks to MSM as his hijinks at the FT recently show) and anyone who disagrees is either funded by big business or corrupt regulators.

    Congratulate Desmogblog for championing transparancy but it should practice what it preaches.

    Desmogblog indicates nowhere that it recives funding from the U.S.-based Rockafeller Foundation (http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/02/18/kevin-libin-environmental-activists-hide-behind-a-screen-of-u-s-money/) so request that you also make clear all your funding sources, including Jim Hoggan's entire client list, which includes Shell.

    Energy In Depth is a blog that posed as a grassroots group in New York, until they were outed as the fracking shills that they are. Then they fessed up - "We're the creation of a PR firm for the gas lobby." 

    They hired bloggers who attempted to retain their pre-shill credentials, up until they too were outed as frack flaks.

    This has done nothing for their credibility, which mirrors the lack of credibility of the other fracking apologists and camp followers in New York.

    See for instance: 

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/78149419/Energy-in-Depth-Tom-Shepstone

     

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