GLENWOOD SPRINGS — The Western Energy Alliance, an energy industry advocacy organization, has launched a series of videos entitled “Common Ground” that are “designed to inform the public about how western oil and natural gas producers are providing abundant, affordable energy for Americans while protecting the environment,” according to a statement from WEA.
The first of a series of four has been released, and can be viewed on the WEA website, by going to the home page, clicking on the menu-bar button, “Why Western Oil and Natural Gas?” and scrolling down to “Protecting the Environment.”
The initial video is entitled “Land,” and according to Jon Haubert of WEA, is to be followed in the coming months by “Water,” “Air” and “Wildlife,” which are to be released through the same website.
“The environmental lobby often presents the public with a false choice — either the environment or affordable energy,” said Tim Wigley, president of WEA, according to the statement.
“Their answer is scarcity — we must have less domestic energy development in order to protect the environment,” Wigley added. “Meanwhile, the oil and natural gas industry has responded to every environmental challenge, developing technologies that have unlocked huge new American energy supplies while significantly reducing environmental impact.”
Haubert, public affairs spokesman for WEA, told the Post Independent on Thursday that the Land video features Stephanie Tomkinson of the QEP Resources oil and gas company, talking with Rancher Scott Chew about the positive relationship he has had with oil and gas companies in his region.
“Our videographers traveled to four basins across the West with our staff to film and produce the videos,” he said, adding that the videos are not a response to films critical of the industry, such as “Split Estate,” a documentary by Red Rock Pictures, or the two “Gasland” movies by filmmaker Josh Fox.
The video format was chosen, Haubert said, because “We [and I think others do, too,] feel that video is one of the best mediums to show/tell our story. A picture says 1,000 words, right?”
Not unexpectedly, critics of the industry do not see the videos in the same light.
“I think Western Energy Alliance is spending money to tell people they are protecting the environment,” said Ross Lane, director of a new conservation group called Western Values Project, an offshoot of the Checks & Balances Project, another watchdog organization.
But, Lane added, “I think Coloradans are sick of campaign-style rhetoric and P.R. spin” about the industry’s effects on land and communities.
He said that the drilling companies who support the WEA “are polluting their [Colorado residents’] air and their water, without taking responsibility for the damage they do.”
Rather than accept the videos’ contention that the industry is “reducing [the] environmental impact” of its activities, Lane said of Coloradans, “They’ll believe it when they see it.”