In The Pipeline 7/19/11

Remember the biased NYT hit piece on Nat Gas? Well, even the NYT’s public editor agrees that the article was an unfounded hit piece New York Times (7/18/11) reports: A New York Times article last month, “Insiders Sound an Alarm Amid a Natural Gas Rush,” warned across two columns at the top of the front page that high expectations for companies drilling shale gas might be headed for a fall. It was the kind of story you wish The Times had written about Enron before it collapsed. Or about Bernard Madoff…The June 26 article, written by Ian Urbina, was clearly intended to offer that kind of signal and specifically invoked “Enron,” “Ponzi schemes” and “dot-coms” in the early paragraphs…Raising the prospect of a fall, though, is a journalistic gamble. Adding to the risk, the story painted its subject with an overly broad brush and didn’t include dissenting views from experts who aren’t entrenched on one side or another of the subject. After publication, critics jumped in with both feet…A UBS investment analyst, William A. Featherston, and colleagues issued a report saying that the article, part of The Times’s continuing “Drilling Down” series on shale gas, was “unduly harsh,” failed to recognize the “enormous” growth of shale gas in recent years and offered no “credible source and context.”…An M.I.T. natural gas study group released a statement taking issue with The Times’s analysis of shale gas economics, well productivity and other matters. Other commentators assailed the sourcing used to support the article’s premise: only two people named in the text, plus a large trove of e-mail from people whose names were redacted by The Times.

Our friends over at GMU provide some context and analysis of the NYT Nat Gas hit piece Stats (7/19/11) reports: The New York Times’ public editor, Arthur Brisbane, finally weighed in on the much-criticized reporting on natural gas by DC-based Ian Urbina—and it came as a sharp and almost unprecedented rebuke of the reporting techniques and ethics of its national editor and staff…The Times has raised eyebrows across the ideological spectrum for its “Drilling Down” series—what has appeared to many to be a year long un-nuanced attack on natural gas and the shale gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing. A slew of commentators, from liberal Joe Nocera (of the very same Times) to Scott Anderson of the Environmental Defense Fund to almost every energy expert, from MIT to Wall Street, have made hash of claims by a faction of environmentalists, previously hyped in a series of articles by Urbina, that fracking poses extraordinary environmental dangers…But the Urbina ‘the sky-is-falling’ express went off the rails completely on June 25 and 26 with two front page stories asserting that shale gas reserves are being hyped by the natural gas industry. Urbina and the sources he selectively quoted suggested parallels to Ponzi schemes, Enron and the housing bubble…Scientists at MIT and elsewhere, who have confirmed massive shale gas reserves but whose research was not even referenced in the piece, immediately issued sharp rebukes of the Urbina narrative. As I noted in a critique for RealClearPolitics, the Times’ article left out key editorial framing details, such as the dubious credibility of the only two identified sources. And as Michael Levi of the Council of Foreign Relations pointed out in his blog, this latest critique of shale gas consisted almost entirely of cherry picked comments from anonymous sources.

Even the cars in East Berlin worked, but then again there was only one type to buy…perhaps that’s the next step for the Obama Administration KSBW (7/18/11) reports: Wave of the A Salinas car manufacturing company that was expected to build environmentally friendly electric cars and create new jobs folded before almost any vehicles could run off the assembly line…The city of Salinas had invested more than half a million dollars in Green Vehicles, an electric car start-up company…All of that money is now gone, according to Green Vehicles President and Co-Founder Mike Ryan…The start-up company set up shop in Salinas in the summer of 2009, after the city gave Ryan a $300,000 community development grant…When the company still ran into financial trouble last year, the city of Salinas handed Ryan an additional $240,000. Green Vehicles also received $187,000 from the California Energy Commission…Salinas Mayor Dennis Donohue said he was “surprised and disappointed” by the news. City officials were equally irked that Ryan notified them through an email that his company had crashed and burned…Salinas Economic Development Director Jeff Weir said Green Vehicles flopped because of a lack of investors.

Oil is Mother Nature’s gift to man and right now North Dakota is reaping the benefits Forbes (7/19/11) reports: North Dakota ended the decade with more than 430,000 workers, up more than 61,000 since 2000 and an increase equal to the population of Bismarck, the state’s second biggest city, a Job Service analysis showed…Thousands of jobs remain unfilled in a state that’s enjoying a robust economy thanks to its booming oil patch and healthy agriculture markets, the agency said… While North Dakota lost residents for decades, it has gained population and jobs as oil production has increased in the past few years…”Oil is not the only game in town, but they are important to us,” said Michael Ziesch, a Job Service North Dakota research analyst…The state added 17,755 jobs from 2008 to 2010, more than two-thirds of which were filled by workers from elsewhere. They came from every state in the nation, led by neighboring Minnesota, Montana and South Dakota, Job Service records showed…Large influxes of workers also have come from states with similar climates and geographies as North Dakota, such as Wisconsin, Idaho and Michigan, Ziesch said. Residents from states with strong energy sectors such as Texas, Wyoming and Colorado also have flocked to North Dakota to fill jobs, he said.

Duh or should they being saying, D’OH? Reuters (7/19/11) reports: The International Energy Agency has not yet decided whether to conduct a second release of emergency oil reserves by its member countries, executive director Nobuo Tanaka said at a seminar in Tokyo…The IEA in June announced a 60 million-barrel one-month release from emergency stockpiles in a temporary measure to fill a supply gap from missing Libyan output before extra Saudi Arabian production emerged, the third such move in its history…The IEA is expected to confer with its member countries by July 23 to decide whether to draw further on emergency oil stocks…Tanaka also said the IEA is checking how long top producer Saudi Arabia will continue to increase its oil output and how much of the released oil reached the markets.

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