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The New York Times Flays Natural Gas to the Cheers of the Oil Industry, OPEC, and Coal Producers

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Quite incredibly, for two days running including a two column boldface headline on this Sunday's front page, "Insiders Sound Alarm Amid a Natural Gas Rush", and again on Monday, "Behind Veneer, Doubt on Future of Natural Gas" The New York Times descended into a realm approaching yellow journalism: reportage of freighted opinion presented as news often with only the flimsiest attribution, often undated or old enough no longer to be germane given the explosive developments in the field, repeatedly out of context and clearly selected to substantiate a predetermined point of view. In doing so, offering a selection of documents "including hundreds of industry emails, internal agency documents and reports by analysts" imparting the New York Times' imprimatur to documents whose "names and identifying information have been redacted to protect the confidentiality of source, many of whom are not authorized by their employers to communicate with the Times." Documents presented without context nor permitting the reader in too many cases to be able to ascertain the who, why, and motivating factors. Is this the new world of newspaper reporting?

The articles are shameless in deprecating the standing of institutions that hold differing views than that of the Times. The United States Energy Information Administration is excoriated for its optimistic assessments of shale gas reserves and its potential by inferring their research relies on "outside consultants with ties to the industry". This from the masters of redacted references.

In its attempt to minimize the enormous advance in natural gas potential that shale gas brought to the nation, no mention is made that after the retracement of oil and gas prices post the events of 2008, natural gas prices have barely increased because of the abundant new shale gas supply and continue to stay near $4.00 mmbtu with corresponding and significant benefit to gas consuming home heating bills and monthly electricity budgets. This while the price of oil has more than tripled to circa $100/bbl responding in part to market conditions where no such new abundance of supply has evolved to hold prices down.

No mention is made that the abundance and potential of shale gas is at the cusp of turning the United States into an energy exporter with the Macquarie Group (a major Australian company) and Freeport LNG making a significant investment to produce 1.4 billion cubic feet/day of Liquefied Natural Gas together with loading and export facilities at Freeport, Texas.

The New York Times' articles go on heavy-handedly interjecting terminology such as "Ponzi Scheme", "Replay of Enron", "Replay of the dot com bubble", "Looks like crap", with but a faintly passing reference that major and well schooled oil companies such as ExxonMobil have bought into shale gas recently. Cleverly omitted is the important fact that Exxon spent $1.7 billion buying shale gas reserves earlier this year, and they didn't buy them from Bernie Madoff. That in 2010 Shell paid $4.7 billion for the shale gas producer East Resources. That BHP, perhaps the world's largest mining company, made a significant investment in shale gas with Chesapeake Resources earlier this year. Nor that earlier this year as well, Exxon teamed up with Total, the French oil giant, to develop shale gas deposits in Poland. And on.

The Times has a long history of buttering up the oil industry, an industry that would be a major loser if the projections for shale gas are proven out over time. The Times' obeisance to the oil industry, oil interests and OPEC has been touched in these posts gong back five years:

- The New Times Shamelessly Shills For OPEC
- The New York Times Mouthpiece of the American Petroleum Institute" 07.23.07
- The New York Times Wins The Alfred E. Neuman Award For Its OPEC Coverage
- Paul Krugman and the 'Time's' Pious Pontifications at the Pump
- The New York Times Pipes The Saudi Production Polka
- The New York Times' Hidden Hand on Oil's Agenda
- The New York Times Pumps for Higher Oil and Gas Prices

The Coal Industry will also be celebrating the New York Times' "exposee". Happily for the coal industry the articles will be referenced by those with the responsibility or conscience to reduce carbon emissions resulting in further delays to the conversion of coal fired power plants to natural gas feedstock. Hereby we all owe the New York Times a word of thanks.