Sac Bee fracking analysis hides fact Obama admin calls it safe

July 1, 2013

By Chris Reed

The Sacramento Bee has joined the reporting staff of The Los Angeles Times and the Ventura County Star’s Timm Herdt in the Fracking Disinformation Hall of Shame. Bee reporter Tom Knudson has a lengthy, often alarmist look at hydraulic fracturing, its long history in California and the possibility that it could trigger a huge economic boom in Golden State.

But while dwelling on fracking’s purported dangers, what Knudson’s article never does is mention the Obama administration’s extensively documented position on fracking: namely, that it is just another heavy industry that can be made safe with good regulations. Instead, Knudson offers up this sort of passing observation as fact: “fracking’s risks to groundwater remain unknown.”

All the president’s men (and women) disagree

Hey, Tom! I know you’re a Pulitzer Prize winner and all, and that therefore you shouldn’t be subject to questioning or editing, but when writing about fracking, aren’t these facts relevant?

— The president’s first energy secretary, Steven Chu, said: “We believe it’s possible to extract shale gas in a way that protects the water, that protects people’s health. We can do this safely.”

— The MIT physicist Obama chose to succeed Chu, Ernest Moniz, described the risks to water posed by fracking as “challenging but manageable.”

— The president’s first Environmental Protection Agency director, Lisa Jackson, told a House committee that she was “not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water.”

— Sally Jewell, the president’s secretary of the interior, at a May 17 news conference announcing the release of fracking rules for public and Indian land, declared the following: “I know there are those who say fracking is dangerous and should be curtailed, full stop. That ignores the reality that it has been done for decades and has the potential for developing significant domestic resources and strengthening our economy and will be done for decades to come.”

Or just for fun, Tom, maybe you could quote the president himself. The photo atop this post of a recent Huffington Post story shows how he feels.

Maybe Tom Knudson got in the green tank for career reasons

The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times both covered Interior Secretary Jewell’s May 17 news conference. The contrast in their coverage is pretty amazing.

“The L.A. Times’ account put in the ‘fracking is safe and has been around forever’ context by quoting an oil industry trade association spokesperson. The NYT quoted THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR!

“Quite a gigantic difference. But than the LAT’s Neela Banerjee and Wes Venteicher and their editors can’t have Times’ readers knowing the Obama administration likes fracking, can they? It doesn’t fit the West L.A.-Marin County-NRDC narrative.”

Maybe that explains the Sac Bee’s Tom Knudson not mentioning the Obama administration’s view on fracking. He’s angling for a job at the L.A. Times.

Sheesh. If any member of the California journalism corps can offer a logical explanation as to why the environmental and political reporters who cover fracking never mention the position of the greenest presidential administration in history, I will be happy to pass it along.

But that won’t happen, because it is impossible to come up with such an explanation.

Paging Dan Walters, paging Dan Walters

The best explanations are the simplest one: 1) All these political and enviro reporters are in the green tank. They’d rather not get blowback from the people they cover, so they don’t mention an angle so powerful it makes the fracking-is-dangerous crowd look like fools. 2) They’re green activists pretending to be impartial journalists.

On fracking, I look forward to Dan Walters eventually fulfilling his periodic role of pointing out the stupidity of the media party line, like he has this year on budget happy talk and like he did back in late 2006 when reporters actually bought the idea that Arnold Schwarzenegger had figured out to make Sacramento functional.

Dan probably won’t name/shame Knudson, but I’ll settle for any improvement on the Sierra Club fracking propaganda we’ve been seeing masquerade as news and “analysis.”





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