Shepstone Management Company, Inc.
UPDATED – SEE BELOW!….
John Hanger, the former DEP Secretary for Pennsylvania, has taken on StateImpactPA in a very smart way and exposed their bias. Bravo!
I have many disagreements with John Hanger but he’s just done something wonderful. He’s gone after StateImpactPA for spinning a false narrative about hydraulic fracturing. He did it on Twitter and got them to acknowledge the funding that drives their reporting. He also got them to admit their definition of fracking includes drilling. That’s the only way they can claim it’s ever impacted water to any degree.
John Hanger, following his stint with the Wolf administration (and a run for governor), has gone back to talking energy. I’m glad he has. While he expresses many views I do not share and some I loathe, he’s consistently supported natural gas development. He’s done so since serving as DEP Secretary for Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. He had a blog for a while where he wrote stories such as this one, for example. Now, he tweets.
Hanger is pretty effective on Twitter and has even gone after us on occasion (he doesn’t like it when we go after SolarCity). That’s just fine because he also extols the benefits of natural gas. He has a particular problem with people who distort the record on hydraulic fracturing. He directly took on Josh Fox, for instance, when Fox used a flaming faucet to falsely indict the process.
Now, he’s taken up pretty much the same battle with StateImpactPA on Twitter. It started with the former publishing a story suggesting the EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) disagreed with the agency’s conclusion that hydraulic fracturing was not a problem when it comes to drinking water. The SAB has said no such thing as Katie Brown notes in her reporting on the same thing. The SAB is merely suggesting the EPA not equivocate, rely upon the evidence and not conflate drilling and hydraulic fracturing (the Fox trick). Most of us agree.
John Hanger decided to call out the StateImpactPA spin, firing a shot over its bow with this exchange:
Susan Phillips, the big gun at StateImpactPA, decided to return fire and cited another piece, as if the outlet had no slant. Hanger then responded with the obvious; that 75% of StateImpactPA reporting is negative. That’s, of course, what the Heinz Endowments and William Penn Foundation pay them to do. They’re a sister entity to the Clean Air Council, Delaware PovertyKeeper and PennFuture, all funded by the same foundations. Hanger, as a former PennFuture guy, knew this, of course. That’s why he tweets “I assume funders want that. Right?”
It was a very clever move and Phillips tried to ignore it with a deflection. She resorts to the “journalism professional” defense (misspelling “judgment” in the process). It was pitiful considering what we know about her and her organization.
Hanger then pressed the question for which he already knew the answer, leading Phillips to post the information box from her website. That box discloses the role of the two foundations. It was, once again, a very clever way for Hanger to make his point.
After getting what he wanted, John Hanger then drives the point home. “Explains a great deal” he says. Yes, indeed.
There were other tweets as well that led up to the exchange. Hanger, for example, made the point “There are arguably none & less than 5 cases of chemicals contaminating water due to hydraulic fracturing.” He did this while acknowledging there have been cases of methane migration, effectively reminding Phillips he wasn’t buying her own attempt to conflate drilling and hydraulic fracturing. The only thing he might have done better is to cite the latest DEP report showing even methane migration cases dropped to zero in 2015.
It was, in short, a beautiful takedown of StateImpactPA. My hat is off to John Hanger.
UPDATE: John Hanger reports the following on Twitter: