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On Propaganda: Fracking Fun for the Very Young

Monday, June 27, 2011

By Alex Formuzis, Father of Two and EWG V-P for Media Relations

The natural gas industry has lost much support among adults who live in communities where fracking has left the water undrinkable and home values plummeting, but all is not lost. The frackers have set their sights on children, who are much more trusting. And like coloring books. Brilliant. [That's a friendly "fracosaurus" to the right, from the coloring book.]

"Let's keep in mind our audience. If you're talking age 9 or younger, you can't get into the questions like, 'What is in fracking fluid?'" said Natalie Cox, Talisman Energy's head of U.S. communications to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Erich Schwartzel.

"If we were making a presentation to the governor in Harrisburg," she continues, "we'd get into technical details. But we wouldn't give him a coloring book, either."

Too bad. He might like it.

We should test this theory. I know dozens of children between the ages of 3 and 9 who are some of the most inquisitive people on the planet. My own three-year old peppers me with needling questions constantly, asking follow-ups until she gets the answer she's looking for - like a prosecutor during cross examination.

It's exhausting.

I'm fairly certain that Lily (that's my daughter) would challenge Talisman Terry and Chesapeake Charlie with a withering - and very logical, honestly truthseeking - line of questioning (like: "is it safe?", "how do you know it's safe?", "why do you put dangerous chemicals in the ground?", "why don't you want to tell people what the chemicals are?"). If the opportunity presented itself, I'd happily make her available.

When an industry needs to go after young children to reverse a public relations disaster (and carefully cultivate future customers), it's a pretty clear sign they're getting desperate.

Good things kids aren't that gullible. Were Congress just as withering.

PS - Grab some crayons and download the whole coloring book. It might make you laugh, but it might just as easily make you cry.

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