PBS ‘Innovation Trail’ Does Sloppy (Lazy?) Reporting on JLCNY

Although it’s often maddening, to MDN, it’s sad to have to report on the bias (or laziness) in the mainstream media with regard to the drilling issue. Today we bring you one of the many examples we could have—and we bring it because of its particularly egregious nature. Innovation Trail is a collaboration between six upstate New York public media outlets. A reporter from the Buffalo PBS station, WBFO, posted an article yesterday that makes a factually wrong statement about the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (JLCNY). If the reporter, Ashley Hassett, had bothered to check with the JLCNY instead of dutifully regurgitating propaganda from a radical group like Food & Water Watch, she might have preserved a bit of journalistic integrity with this story.

Using the ultra-radical Food & Water Watch (FWW) as her only source, Hassett posted a story with the theme that farmers and "foodies" (foodies being the radicals at FWW) are getting together to encourage Gov. Cuomo to adopt a ban on fracking. It was in the context of this so-called story she unknowingly (our preferred view) or perhaps knowingly made a statement about the JLCNY and their position that is an outright lie…

Here’s the brief story as posted yesterday on Innovation Trial (statement about JLCNY is near the end):

A coalition of farmers and foodies are urging Governor Cuomo to ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State right away. Groups across the state are expected to meet throughout the week to alert the public to the risks they believe fracking poses to the state’s agricultural viability.

Food and Water Watch Organizer Rita Yelda helped organize Buffalo’s “Food not Fracking” event.

Yelda argues that the fracking process, involving the underground injection of water, chemicals and sand releases radioactive waste and produces pollution in ground water and soil.

“The soil contamination and pollution combined with the land development and water consumption really threatens the health, safety, and viability of New York State’s production of vegetables, beer, wine, dairy products. It could really have a devastation impact on some of the industries that we really call the pride of New York State,” said Yelda.

Rite Yelda says dairy farmers report that they’re already seeing the negative impacts due to fracking.

“In Pennsylvania, in Tioga County in 2010, there was a fracking waste water storage pond that leaked and it ended up spilling into a pasture where 28 cattle were grazing. Eight of the eleven calves that were born from those cattle were stillborn,” said Yelda.

Yelda said they hope their message will spark change before fracking destroys upstate’s agricultural community.

Industry and groups like the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York dispute claims that fracking waste water poses long-term risks to agriculture.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency is engaged in a major study of waste water generated by the fracking process.*

    The JLCNY has never made such a claim. If you check, starting in 2008 the JLCNY has demanded that any driller signing a lease with their members agree to closed-loop systems and tanks for storage of fracking fluids and fracking wastewater. As they often say—their members actually live on the land that will be drilled. It is in their own self-interest to be ecologically-minded. They don’t intend to pollute their livestock and their families!

    We understand drilling is a complicated issue. We encourage Ms. Hassett and Innovation Trail to go on a few tours of well sites in PA and study up on the difference between a water impoundment used for fresh water, one used for fracking fluid/wastewater, and one used for brine (naturally-occurring salt water that comes out long after fracking fluid is gone). There are important differences. The JLCNY sees no problem with fresh water impoundments—they already have them, they’re called farm ponds! However, they’ve never been in favor of open-air ponds for fracking fluids and wastes. To say otherwise is just not true.

      *Innovation Trail (Apr 15, 2013) – Farmers and foodies call for fracking ban