“Amid the ongoing battle in New York and elsewhere over hydraulic fracturing, one thing has become clear: The pro-drilling side is losing the public relations fight.”
Robert Bryce writes in the New York Daily News,
… From a public relations standpoint, the opponents of fracturing are winning the debate because they have a simple and effective message that sows fear of an industry that Americans are predisposed to loathe. It could easily fit on a bumper sticker: “Big Oil wants to pollute your water.” The mere notion scares people.
How has the drilling industry responded? Their messages vary, but they inevitably revolve around something like, “Oh, no, we don’t.” Following that is a wonkish explanation of why the process is safe, how only minute quantities of chemicals are used and how the men and women in the drilling sector love all things green and leafy. But an old saw in politics and public relations warns that “if you are explaining, you are losing.”
Combine the difficulty of explaining a rather complex engineering process like fracturing with a dreadful public image, and the oil and gas sector’s problems become even more apparent. A 2006 Gallup poll found that just 15% of Americans had a positive view of the oil and gas industry, while 77% had a negative image. Of 25 business and industry sectors in the Gallup survey, the oil and gas industry ranked dead last. Even the federal government ranked ahead of the oil and gas industry in the collective opinion of the general public. Last August, Gallup repeated the poll. The results were almost identical, with the oil and gas sector again trailing the federal government in negative views…