You know you’ve got them worried when they can’t stop talking about you: Energy in Depth’s faux-reporting at Schlumberger, 8.11.12

Energy In Depth “reporters” Rachel Colley and Joe Massaro photographed at the Schlumberger Demonstration. Photo by Wendy Lee

Energy in Depth (EID) faux-reporters Rachael Colley and Joe Massaro really only have one teeny-tiny problem with respect to their reporting at the Schlumberger Direct Action, 8.11.12: only the most trivial aspects of their report are actually true. True! There was a protest which assembled at a Park-n-Ride. True! Human beings did attend the action. True! EID dispatched Colley and Massaro to “cover” the day’s events. True! Massaro wore a black T-Shirt with a drinking skull on the back. True! Colley and Massaro are speakers of English (although they could use a Basic Grammar refresher course: “where several out of state vehicles driven helped filled the parking lot”?).

But that’s pretty much where the truth leaves off and EID’s commitment to “truthiness” takes the floor.

To be specific:

1. It’s a sure sign that C&M had few facts at their disposal when, in the very first lines of this woeful “report” they resort to ridicule: “This was like some Back to the Future time machine trip to the 1960′s without the magic or the DeLorean and nothing but the eccentric Doc Brown.” This, of course, is an attempt to discredit the action by (a) comparing it to something we’d presumably all find ludicrous, and (b) making fun of the participants by comparing them to their 1960’s incarnations. But the comparison begs the question by presupposing that the protests of the 1960’s were ludicrous–and this, of course, is not the case. Indeed, many (including those who opposed, for example, the Civil Rights Movement, The Feminist Movement, the Gay Rights Movement, the Anti-War Movement) would certainly beg to differ here. Taking C&M’s remarks at face value, we can only conclude that they’d have opposed the Civil Rights Movements, et. al, and that they’d prefer a time when, say, African Americans couldn’t enter the front door of a restaurant like Frank Maine’s, or women were relegated to jobs a lot less fun than Rachael’s. Unfair? Hardly–If C&M want to compare the protests of the present to those of the past, they’d do themselves a service by getting it clear that THAT past is about far more important things than what’s depicted in Back to the Future, and that the concept of having and exercising a RIGHT is what connects Civil Rights and Environmental Integrity.

2. Frank Maines of the Redwood Inn has every right to believe what he wishes and say so, but he is hardly an objective source as he stands to profit directly from the fracking boom via filled rooms for which he can charge an exorbitant rate. Sad reality check for Mr. Maines: should New York lift its moratorium, and the boom he’s jazzed about now turn, as it will inevitably, to bust–leaving in its wake all of the erosion, blight, and joblessness that he thinks fracking is going to cure, the joke will be on him. Only worse–he will be poisoned by the very water and air he’s willing to see sacrificed for the green-backs sticking out of his fat wallet. Even worse than that: we’ll all be poisoned.

3. C&M claim that because Schlumberger knew of the protest plans and diverted some of their trucks accordingly, that the protester’s discovery of this fact deflated the protest. Moreover, they claim that this diversion away from the main gate was of no consequence to Schlumberger. Both are laughably false:

(a) The notion that the protesters did not know that Schlumberger knew of the action only indicates how genuinely naive are C&M about the orchestration of protests. I have no illusions–and I seriously doubt than any in the anti-fracking movement do–that fracking and fracking associated representatives regularly troll Facebook pages and event sites for information just like this. The event was posted on Facebook. Of COURSE, Schlumberger knew. So, we knew that they knew. Honestly: DUH! This is not only NOT deflating, it is galvanizing because….

(b) Schlumberger DID have to divert truck traffic away from that gate. And this DID cost them money. How do I know? Because they were continuing to load sand trucks in another part of the compound–but they were avoiding the use of roads near the gates. How do I know this cost them money? Because when I drove back on public access roads to survey activity on the enormous Schlumberger compound, I was followed by a company representative who was simply furious that I had discovered the sand trucks idling. He threatened to call the police back to the location where I was taking pictures (pretty silly–the police were already on the compound), and he demanded that I leave. I did. But the pictures speak for themselves. I only wish I could have taken more. C&M’s claim, of course, is that the fact that work was still going on shows that we had no effect at all on the money-making of that day. But were THAT the case, “red truck guy” wouldn’t have been so keen to get me away from the sand-trucks. After all, pictures of what really goes on there every single day would not make the residents of Horseheads, NewYork feel all that safe.

(c) It doesn’t really matter where we had staged the action. The gates, the road, Schlumberger’s corporate offices. We are exposing this corporation for the environmental polluter whose profits are not–contrary to Mr. Maine’s assumptions–destined for “cheap, natural, and abundant,” but in fact for the global market and China, and THAT is the point: “Oilfield services players are actively looking to export the shale gas revolution in the U.S. to foreign markets in Asia and in Latin America. The Chinese government has made shale exploration one of its priority items in its latest five year plans. Shale exploration in the country could boost the rig count in the region as well as the average service intensity at each rig, boosting revenues for companies like Schlumberger

4. While C&M accuse Sandra Steingraber of hyperbole and exaggeration with respect to Steingraber’s comparison of the anti-fracking movement to the Revolution for Independence, they don’t bother to spell out why the comparison is ill-conceived. Again–begging the question–they simply assume that we’ll get the hyperbole. Let me help: Steingraber’s point is that members of the anti-fracking movement are like these brave predecessors in that we are willing to lay down our bodies (not to mention our time, money, and labor) to protect our water, air, and soil from the well-established consequences of an industry whose commitment is not to the improvement of the human condition but to maximizing profits.

In short: we are at war against what can only be called genocidal profiteering–genocidal because the industry KNOWS the consequences of the fracking process and all of its attendant infrastructure; profiteering because corporations like Schlumberger are willing to go to any lengths (including, it must be noted, unvarnished bribery to lull us into complacency about their real objectives and generate good–contract generating–PR) to acheive this goal–just like their predecessor in a long and hoary history of extraction. To point out that Steingraber uses natural gas is, of course, just more personal attack (ad hominem) which completely ignore the substantial differences between vertical wells and fracking–but I’ll leave this to another day.

5. I was at the Bloomsburg University action where Tom Shepstone made the argument that fracking was good for water because baseline testing exposed problems that might have otherwise gone undetected. Indeed, I helped organize that action for the last night of the Green Campus Initiative’s week of panels and discussion opportunities on fracking. Shepstone’s argument is absurd:

(a) THAT heretofore undetected pollutants might be revealed through baseline testing only verifies a history of egregious dumping into our rivers and streams from the same industries who’d bamboozle us now via the very same rhetoric we heard from their predecessors in the extraction rackets. Such arguments aim at nothing more than the same manipulations and extortions of that ugly coal-burning, petro-polluting legacy.

(b) Of what benefit is it to us that a problem with a well might be exposed if its integrity will NOW be jeopardized by fracking? here’s what Shepstone is REALLY saying: Hey! let’s find out if your well (creek, tributary, stream, river) has any pollutant problems. Then, Hey! Why don’t YOU pay to fix that, and then Hey! Let’s frack, say 300 ft. over there, and see what happens? We know what happens, Tom. Here’s just a tiny-tiny sample.

6. As for C&M’s personal attack on me: HAHAHAHAHA! I’d rather be riding on the back of a high-horse raging chicken than in an emergency room or cancer ward diagnosed with a fracking-chemical-exposure disease treatment for which I can give no informed consent because my state’s (Pennsylvania, INC) Act 13 prevents my doctor from revealing to me the chemical cocktail to which I was exposed. All mirth aside, however, you know you’re accomplishing something when your opponent has to go after you by name. Sorry, C&M, for the giggling.

7. Lastly, about Schlumberger’s public statement:

(a) the appeal to a worry about the safety of their employees is poppycock. If Schlumberger were concerned for the employee’s health and safety, they wouldn’t be involved in the fracking industry at all. Indeed, if Schlumberger were concerned with anything other than their profit margins and their new spiffy deal with China, they’d do a 180 degree turn and aim to restructure their entire enterprise around renewables. They have the ability and the resources to do exactly that. But they won’t. Not while they can fool a public into thinking that poisoning them is good for them because it keeps mom and dad working–at least until they get that diagnosis of, say, pancreatic cancer or, say, something neurologically nasty caused by the constant exposure to chemical-laced dust. Or their kid gets asthma.

(b) Schlumberger didn’t engage with the protesters because it makes them look precisely like the genocidal profiteers they are. They can’t win on any honest scientific assessment of the facts, so they evade any possibility that they might be made to face them. We’re bad advertising–it’s just that simple.

(c) Schlumberger is lying about the effects on its work detail that Saturday. See #3.

So there you have it. It must be hard to be Colley, Massaro, and Shepstone. Thank the gods their making good money. These are the paid shills who you can imagine defending, say, Union Carbide, after the horrific Bhopal disaster that took the lives of 3,787 human beings (not to mention countless nonhuman animal lives)

Colley: Those Indian families that lost their little ones to this unfortunate “incident” should just be glad they had jobs!

Massaro: Yes! Think of the jobs!

Shepstone: Yes! Think of the jobs! AND had it not been for the “incident” the residents of Bhopal might not have known about how pesticides can hurt you! Now they know! They should be thanking Union Carbide!

Colley: Yes!

Massaro: Yes! AND look at how much Union Carbide cares about the safety of their workers!

No doubt, C&M (and Shepstone) would be horrified by this comparison–not to mention my little satire here. But they’ve no right to be. They propagandize for an industry that has the potential to cause the next Bhopal. They earn a living propagandizing for an industry that–behind the cloak of jobs–is poisoning our water and air. How–other than that with EID’s help the frackers can do a better job of concealing this slow-burning catastrophe– is it different? Is it unfair to compare Schlumberger (et. al.) to Union Carbide? Nope:

And that’s just a taste of what’s coming. Multiply Schlumberger with Chesapeake, Cabot, Aqua America, Chief, Halliburton, Exxon, BP…..

Back to the Future? Not if we don’t act to save ourselves and our children in the present.

For photographs, please see:


Wendy Lynne Lee


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