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ConocoPhillips launches natural gas campaign

Two weeks ago Conoco-Phillips invited me to a “Community Leader Engagement Meeting” in Durango, Colorado.

Besides a couple of environmental leaders, the room was filled with elected officials, school administrators and business leaders all hungry for donations and new convention centers.

C-P is the largest company operating south of the state line in San Juan County, New Mexico. It's the fifth largest producer in La Plata County, Colorado.

Five minutes into the “engagement” it was clear that the C-P employees had no intention of sharing future drilling plans and what steps they were going to take to prevent and minimize impacts to protect public health and the environment. Instead, the meeting was about what a great corporate neighbor the company is and how much the company contributes to local schools and communities.

At the time, the meeting was puzzling mainly because so little information was conveyed other than where C-P has its major oil and gas operations around the world.

During the question and answer period, C-P's public relations staff did reveal that they're working hard in New Mexico and Colorado to pave the way for a more friendly business environment by working to eliminate “onerous” oil and gas regulations, like New Mexico's Pit Rule.

The reason for that meeting started making sense when I read today's headlines that C-P has launched a national campaign to convince lawmakers and the public that more gas drilling is necessary to provide low-cost energy and high-paying jobs. C-P and the industry in general is telling everyone that will listen that they've been doing a terrible job telling the public what a marvel hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is.

Public concerns about contamination from drilling and fracking are prevailing and now C-P's CEO claims the industry needs to de-mystify fracking and do a better job promoting itself.

Hold on to your hats and get ready for more industry “spin.”

At least some newspapers across the country are staying afloat with all those full-page “Clean natural gas provides jobs, jobs, jobs” ads from the last industry campaign. The tens of millions of dollars that the industry has spent on advertising to convince the public that gas is clean adds insult to injury to the communities across the country and Canada that are being sacrificed to supply our energy needs.

No matter how they spin it, gas will never come out clean.