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Our goal at The Daily Digger is to give you an easy one-stop place to link up with the latest oil and gas stories that have a bearing on the Ohio Utica Shale development.  You can spend hours each day combing through the dozens and dozens of various articles that pop up...or you can just come here and find quick references, summaries, and links that will keep you up-to-date.

The fracking debate is fierce, and it is important to many residents in areas where shale development is ongoing.  Are the fears valid?  Should the government hit the brakes and allow for more research in the interest of public safety?  Or are the claims of horrific air pollution and well water contamination overblown or even completely fabricated?  As individuals who live and work in the middle of the shale boom, we wonder about the answers to those questions, just as many who read our blog do.

There is no shortage of sources willing to provide answers.  The difficult thing can be sorting through the biased arguments and trying to find the truth.  We don't claim to be experts, but we work hard to sift through the various articles and reports that are released on a daily basis and bring them to our readers attention right here, so that they can make their own determination.

There are, of course, many stories and events that residents should be aware of just so that they know what is going on in our area, and we make sure to mention those as well.  Where there are articles that offer background on shale development processes or advice for landowners, we see value in sharing them too.  And, occasionally, we'll have some exclusive coverage of the shale boom or articles investigating some of the recent developments.

To help keep things straight, here is some more information about some of the frequent sources of articles that you may see us refer to here.  We have no affiliation with any of them, and their views are their own.  We link to many articles that have a pro-fracking or anti-fracking bias, and we don't take sides.  Only occasionally will we point out the clear bias or flaws that exist, in our view, in a cited or quoted article or report - regardless of which side the obvious bias falls on.

Again, the views of linked, cited, or quoted articles are not ours.

So, here are some of the players in the oil and gas development debate and some background to help you sort out the agendas:

ENERGY IN DEPTH


From their website comes this description of Energy in Depth (or EID):
Launched by the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) in 2009, Energy In Depth (EID) is a research, education and public outreach campaign focused on getting the facts out about the promise and potential of responsibly developing America’s onshore energy resource base – especially abundant sources of oil and natural gas from shale and other “tight” reservoirs across the country. It’s an effort that benefits directly from the support, guidance and technical insight of a broad segment of America’s oil and natural gas industry, led in Washington by IPAA, but directed on the ground by our many affiliates — and IPAA’s more than 6,000 members — in the states.
EID is thus extremely biased in support of the oil and gas industry.  Their articles will staunchly defend fracking and attempt to minimize any dissenting viewpoint.  They are quick to point out bias in articles that cast fracking and the industry in a negative light, and they will always point out if a study or report is financed by environmental groups.  They aren't so quick to point out that reports they like to cite were often funded by the industry.  It's their job - they are an industry PR agency.

That being said, they cite a vast variety of studies and sources that are typically ignored by fracking critics who are biased in the other direction.  Thus, we feel that they are worth referencing in order to give the industry's side of various subjects.

FOOD AND WATER WATCH


Here's how they describe themselves:
Our Mission 
Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainably produced. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping the global commons — our shared resources — under public control. 
Our Vision 
We envision a world where all people have access to enough affordable, healthy, and wholesome food and clean water to meet their basic needs — a world in which governments are accountable to their citizens and manage essential resources sustainably. 
Our Values 
Independence. We are a public interest organization that remains independent of corporate and government influence. We are funded fully through our members, individual donors, and foundation grants. Democracy. We engage and mobilize citizens politically through on-the-ground organizing, educational campaigns and new media technologies. We believe political involvement is critical for holding governments accountable to their constituents and for creating policies that ensure safe food and clean water. Human Rights. There is enough food and water to meet everyone’s basic needs. Creating the political will to address access to affordable food and water is an important component of our work, particularly in our international program. We believe that water is a human right, not a commodity. Sustainability. We believe in a sustainable future — one that ensures access to essential resources for future generations while protecting the quality of our environment.
Predictably, Food and Water Watch is anti-fracking.  They focus on studies and reports that support their agenda and work to bring those into the public eye, while glossing over and attempting to minimize reports and studies that indicate fracking is safe.

NATIONAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL


From their website:
NRDC is the nation's most effective environmental action group, combining the grassroots power of 1.3 million members and online activists with the courtroom clout and expertise of more than 350 lawyers, scientists and other professionals.
The New York Times calls us "One of the nation's most powerful environmental groups." The National Journal says we're "A credible and forceful advocate for stringent environmental protection."
Our dedicated staff work with businesses, elected leaders, and community groups on the biggest issues we face today. Our priorities include:
The NRDC "opposes expanded fracking until effective safeguards are in place."  They also have an anti-fossil fuel agenda, which should be taken into account with any report that they release on fracking.  Are they opposed to it because of the risk factors that have been suggested by critics, or does the opposition stem from the fact that this technology has opened the door to a huge supply of affordable fossil fuels and could slow development of the renewable energy sources that the NRDC promotes?

MARCELLUS DRILLING NEWS


This site often publishes articles similar to ours, with quotes from stories and links - although they charge a subscription fee to access the information.  They add more of their own commentary, though, and they are very pro-drilling.  They do accept sponsor support from Energy in Depth.

PROPUBLICA


Journalist Abrahm Lustgarten has led the charge on ProPublica's fracking investigation series, and it has been a rewarding endeavor for him, as his profile at ProPublica says:
Abrahm Lustgarten writes about energy, water, climate change and anything else having to do with the environment. Before coming to ProPublica in 2008, he was a staff writer and contributor for Fortune, and has written for WiredSalonEsquire, the Washington Post and the New York Times. At ProPublica, his investigation into fracking for natural gas was recognized with the George Polk award for environmental reporting, a National Press Foundation award for best energy writing, a Sigma Delta Chi award and was a finalist for Harvard's Goldsmith Prize. His reporting on BP and the Deepwater Horizon tragedy was nominated for an Emmy.
What is ProPublica?  Here is how they describe themselves on their website:
ProPublica is an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. Our work focuses exclusively on truly important stories, stories with “moral force.” We do this by producing journalism that shines a light on exploitation of the weak by the strong and on the failures of those with power to vindicate the trust placed in them.
And further:
We have created an independent newsroom, located in Manhattan and led by some of the nation’s most distinguished editors, and staffed at levels unprecedented for a non-profit organization. Indeed, we believe, this is the best-led and best-funded investigative journalism operation in the United States.
In the best traditions of American journalism in the public service, we seek to stimulate positive change. We uncover unsavory practices in order to stimulate reform. We do this in an entirely non-partisan and non-ideological manner, adhering to the strictest standards of journalistic impartiality. We won’t lobby. We won’t ally with politicians or advocacy groups. We look hard at the critical functions of business and of government, the two biggest centers of power, in areas ranging from product safety to securities fraud, from flaws in our system of criminal justice to practices that undermine fair elections. But we also focus on such institutions as unions, universities, hospitals, foundations and on the media when they constitute the strong exploiting or oppressing the weak, or when they are abusing the public trust.
We address one of the occasional past failings of investigative journalism by being persistent, by shining a light on inappropriate practices, by holding them up to public opprobrium and by continuing to do so until change comes about. In short, we stay with issues so long as there is more to be told, or there are more people to reach.
We strive to be fair. We give people and institutions that our reporting casts in an unfavorable light an opportunity to respond and make sincere and serious efforts to provide that opportunity before we publish. We listen to the response and adjust our reporting when appropriate. We aggressively edit every story we plan to publish, to assure its accuracy and fairness. If errors of fact or interpretation occur, we correct them quickly and clearly. We aim for a working culture that embraces all of these principles, and insist that they infuse all that we do.
It's a fine line.  ProPublica is searching for stories of big industry running roughshod over the average man, along with stories of the government not doing its best to protect said average man from such exploitation.  To identify that as your specialty is going to immediately cause many to question the reports that you publish, because it's hard to imagine someone entering an investigation hoping to reach a certain conclusion and find a story with "moral force" and not having that influence their views of what they do find, as well as the tone of what they ultimately end up reporting.  The industry definitely has not appreciated Lustgarten's reporting, which has consistently cast them in a bad light and has been a rallying point for fracktivists.  The articles are well-written.  Anyone looking for an anti-gas bias won't have too much trouble convincing themselves that it is there, but it could easily be argued that the tone of Lustgarten's writing about fracking simply reflects what he has uncovered in his investigation.

WATER DEFENSE


This is a devout anti-drilling, anti-fossil fuels organization that is quick to seize onto - and bend, if necessary - everything they possibly can in a way that will cast fracking and the oil and gas industry in a negative light.  If Energy in Depth is the ultimate example of industry bias, Water Defense is the ultimate example of fracktivist bias.  From their website:
Water is our most precious resource. It’s also one of the scarcest. Less than one tenth of one percent of all the water on earth is safe and available for us to use. One in five people worldwide doesn’t have safe drinking water. One in two don’t have water for sanitation. 
Here in America, the fossil fuel industry has brought the water crisis to our doorstep. Mining and drilling have poisoned countless communities' drinking water with methane, benzene, lead, and thousands of other known carcinogens and deadly toxins, leaving parents helpless to protect their children from what comes out of the tap.
What we get in exchange for those billions of gallons of poisoned water is a warming planet. Today, as global carbon emissions continue to rise and we careen towards climate tipping points, humanity faces the most serious crisis in our history. If we don’t dramatically reduce carbon emissions soon, we’ll pass the point of no return. 
America has a choice between dirty fossil fuels that poison water and clean energy that rebuilds our economy. Water Defense's mission is to make sure that America makes the right choice. Co-founded by actor Mark Ruffalo, Water Defense works to create a world where water is safe to drink, a world where the oceans don't rise and the economy is powered by clean, sustainable sources of energy like wind, water and solar.
That is a rundown of some of the regularly featured players in the fracking debate.  Of course, both sides allege bias in articles from various other news outlets.  The industry has pointed the finger at Bloomberg, Reuters, the New York Times, NPR, and others.  For their part, fracking critics have accused reporters from the Associated Press, the New York Times, and others of basically being industry shills.  We will reference their reports and you can decide for yourselves.

Naturally, we will monitor the local news outlets for area developments that you will want to be aware of.  As sources like The Canton Repository, The Times Reporter, The Free Press Standard, Farm and Dairy, and so many more continue their fine job in relaying the latest information, we will be quick to direct your attention to their reports.

If you would like to contact us, please feel free to email admin@thedailydigger.com.  We hope that you find our website a valuable resource for keeping informed on the news and excitement of the Utica Shale boom.

The Daily Digger/Energy News Ohio staff

1 comment :

  1. My name is Michael wade still, I just recently read your article on drugs causing Ohioans to miss out on oil & gas jobs....I can pass any kind of drug screen there is & I know this because I do security for the gas & oil sites...which also means I have security clearance to be on these sites. I have done security on Chesapeake sites as well as chevron sites..I have applied with Chesapeake several times but they won't even give me a interview or a chance... so I kinda wonder if the drugs are just a excuse not to hire Ohioans!!!! I am a Jack of all trades & a master of none. I know that with my skills and willingness to learn I could be a great asset to the industry,but they won't even give me a interview..I wish they would prove me wrong & give me a drug screen and a interview. Thank you , goldwinger73@yahoo.com

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