Snow White and Her Seven Drilling Rigs
As a mom of an eight-year-old and a six-year old, I can’t escape Disney. But thankfully, my little princesses haven’t yet been exposed to the company’s pro-fracking campaign, “Rockin’ in Ohio.”
According to my go-to resource, Environmental Health News’ Above the Fold, Radio Disney, the Internet radio station targeted to ‘tweens, partnered with the natural gas industry to try to convert kids into fracking boosters.
As journalist Peter Moskowitz of Al-Jazerra America reported last week, the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program, which is funded by the natural gas industry, and a Radio Disney deejay promoted natural gas and oil drilling at 26 elementary schools across Ohio. Students used ping-pong balls and straws to simulate oil and gas drilling and enjoyed all kinds of wacky contests and games.
This ill-conceived public relations campaign went viral – and boy, did it backfire. Parents circulated petitions to tell Radio Disney to stop trying to influence their kids. Our friends at the Sierra Club launched a Twitter campaign. A day into the controversy, Radio Disney issued a statement to Huffington Post declaring that it would withdraw from airing the programs' last installments.
While “Rocking in Ohio” may just be another ridiculous natural gas propaganda piece, it joins the ranks of some of the industry’s other failed greatest hits:
- Talisman Energy's Terry the fracosaurus coloring book:
- Chesapeake Charlie, the friendly fracking beagle:
- EnCana’s fracking exercise with cupcakes and icing:
These cynical marketing efforts to kids concern me, especially given the recent reports that shale gas drilling may cause water contamination and seismic activity. Radio Disney’s decision to scrap the program shows that parental outcry can stop these ploys -- a silver lining, but this whole debacle makes the sounds of KidzBop even more grating. And the time I’ve spent worrying about what a princess culture could do to my daughters now seems pretty mild compared to Disney’s fracking agenda.