John Hanger Reports the Shale Gas News Too Good to Print in the New York Times

Michael Giberson

John Hanger is former head of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and former member of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, among other public positions. He was founding president of the group Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture) which carefully tracked energy and environmental issues in the state. Hanger knows a few things about energy and the environment.

He also knows a cheap, sensationalist, newspaper smear job when he sees one, and on Sunday he read the New York Times article highlighting various shale gas skeptics claims. On his blog Facts of the Day Hanger shot back:

Could anyone imagine more sensationalistic narratives than Radiation, Ponzi, and Enron?

Consistent with this reporter’s method, today’s article uses often anonymous statements to paint a sensational narrative and leaves out or underplays critical information that is inconvenient to establishing the credibility of the dominant anti-gas narrative.

For example, the reader will not learn the following:

1. That 2010 natural gas production in the United States reached the highest levels since 1973 and neared record levels.  Nor will the reader be told that the US produces more natural gas than any nation.

4. The reader will not be told that actual large shale gas production has shattered the historic pricing link between oil and gas and now oil prices have gone up while gas prices have gone down

5. The reader will not be told that, while oil prices have spiked up due to supply straining to meet demand, actual shale gas production has caused gas prices to decline.

6. The reader will be told that the alleged shale ponzi scheme could harm consumers, but the reader will not learn that actual shale gas production so far has saved a consumer heating with natural gas about $5 to $8 per thousand cubic feet or conservatively $500 per year.

7. The reader will again be warned that consumers could be hurt by the alleged ponzi scheme, but the reader will also not be told that actual shale gas production has lowered the wholesale price of electricity about 5 cents per kilowatt-hour and saved a residential electric consumer using 10,000 kilowatt-hours per year another $500 per year.

9. All the reader is told about the Marcellus is that a Penn State professor reports well production is meeting or exceeding expectations in the Marcellus.  No charts or bar graphs.  No data. Nothing. Why? Very inconvenient facts for the ponzi, enron narrative is the answer.

12. The reader is told that improvements in shale gas drilling are lowering costs but no details. The details are impressive and in a separate posting we will discuss them. Again getting into this detail would be inconvenient to the ponzi, enron narrative.

And who are among the victims of the alleged Ponzi scheme?  Exxon, Chevron, Shell, Statoil who all have made substantial investments in the Marcellus shale plays.  They could be wrong.  They could be victims of a crime.  But they are incredibly sophisticated companies that engage in massive due diligence before making big investments.

Hanger continues his post with his view of current industry conditions. Following his Sunday riposte, Hanger has been furiously blogging the shale gas news “not fit to print” in the New York Times because it would undermine their sensationalist tale-telling:

This morning Hanger appeared with the New York Times writer, Ian Urbina, and others on the Diane Rhehm show, a public radio show broadcast in Washington, DC. Podcast available here.

One thought on “John Hanger Reports the Shale Gas News Too Good to Print in the New York Times

  1. The surge in shale gas production, and as important, its potential to keep surging is very bad news for many traditional New York Times constituencies.

    Consider how many New York Times stories have reported over the years on: fears of running out of fossil fuels, increasing greenhouse gas emissions from burning oil and coal, “exciting” new solar and wind technologies, and various energy efficiency mandates and regulations.

    NYT business, energy, and environment reporters have extensive contacts with people working in dozens or hundreds of for-profit, non-profit, and government organizations invested in these technologies and worldviews, each undermined one way or another by safe and plentiful natural gas supplies.

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