Enough with the Park Foundation nonsense already
May 31, 2012 —
In the dispute as to whether hydro-fracking for natural gas is desirable in this area (or anywhere), there are a number of legitimate bones of contention. Take jobs, which all agree are important: one valid topic of discussion is the question as to whether the number, quality and sustainability of jobs provided to local residents by gas drilling would outweigh the practice’s economic, environmental, health and social costs.
But there are other lines of argument that are pure drivel. The idea that opposition to gas drilling is an inimical conspiracy funded by the Park Foundation is a case in point. It’s not only drivel, it’s dangerous drivel, because it sets up a scapegoat—a propaganda technique that serves only to sow irrational suspicion and fear in the community, while diverting attention from legitimate concerns. This contention has been a favorite talking point for some time on the Energy in Depth (EID) Marcellus website, which admits openly (to its credit) the fact that it is funded by the natural gas drilling industry. More recently, public comments attacking the Town of Highland’s Local Law #3—which would ban hydro-fracking—on the grounds that it can be “traced back” to the Park Foundation, indicate that the idea is gaining broader currency.
It’s time to call a halt.
Yes, it’s true that the Park Foundation has been a major funding source for individuals and entities that oppose gas drilling, from Josh Fox and “Gasland” to the Community Environmental Defense Council (CEDC). So what?
To find out what kind of organization this must be to earn the aspersions cast upon it, we went to its website. Here’s its mission: “The Park Foundation primarily supports scholarships in higher education, quality media that heightens public awareness of critical issues and protection of the environment.”
Aha! So people who fear that hydro-fracking will damage the environment are being funded by, wait for it—a foundation that aims to protect the environment.
Well, duh. Argue that hydro-fracking does not damage the environment if you must. But there’s nothing nefarious about an organization whose mission is to protect the environment funding people who want to protect the environment. There’s no hidden agenda here.