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'Miracle of American Oil': Continental Resources wooed the corporate media to sell oil exports

Cross publication from DeSmogBlog

A document published by the Public Relations Society of America, discovered by DeSmog, reveals that since the beginning of his public relations campaign, the oil industry wooed media reporters to help him to sell the idea of ​​lifting the ban on crude oil exports to the public and to American politicians.

Calling your campaign the "American Oil Miracle", the successful public relations effort to pressure Congress and the White House to lift the ban on oil exports was led by Continental Resources, a Company known as the shale "King of Bakken" oil basin and founded by Harold Hamm. Hamm served as energy advisor to Republican Party 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

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style= Image credit: Public Relations Society of America

The campaign was launched on December 16, 2013, the 40th anniversary of the embargo Petroleum of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and won the prestigious PRSA Silver Anvil Award.

According to the document, presented to PRSA to detail the logistics and scope of the public relations effort, it was " designed to influence public policy and / or affect legislation, regulations, political activities or candidacies – at the local, state or federal government levels. "

And it all started with an opening dinner at Washington, DC organized by Continental Resources and attended by some of the most influential media reporters in the media at The United States.

Regular readers of the pace of Washington's oil and gas industry will find familiar the names of the dinner attendees, reported in the document.

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style= Image credit: Public Relations Society of America

" The campaign not only served as a catalyst to correct the misconceptions of the public, but also boosted oil exports or raw to the top of the agenda of the US Senate. UU. ", Continental boasted in the PRSA document.

While the document does not mention when and where the dinner was held, Amy Harder, one of the journalists who attended, revealed the details.

In a Dec. 20 article in the Wall Street Journal that offers an overview and an inside look at the industry's export crusade, Harder revealed that the dinner was held at the ostentatious Hay-Adams 5-star hotel in October. 2013 and Harold Hamm attended the meeting.

Harder ended up publishing two export articles favorable to the industry's point of view in the few months following the invitation to the exclusive dinner of the Hay-Adams Hotel .

When asked for more details about the dinner, Harder told DeSmog by email that she did not " feel comfortable sharing more information with you about dinner ", also denying his attendance there in the form of the inclination of his articles.

One of Harder's articles published in January 2014 offers more details of the dinner, noting that "was organized by the Alliance of Domestic Energy Producers" (DEPA) and assisted by " other domestic energy executives" beyond Hamm.

DEPA has spent $ 75,000 lobbying for Congress to lift the ban on oil exports in 2015, according to the lobbying disclosure forms reviewed by DeSmog.

U.S. The representative Martin Frost; Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

One of the lobbyists deployed by DEPA, David Crane of Quadripoint Strategies LLC, formerly served as principal advisor of policies for US Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and US Senator Trent Lott (R-MS). DEPA also deployed the former US representative. UU Martin Frost (D-TX) to press on his behalf on the subject.

The DEPA coalition has also awarded US Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) $ 10,000 in campaign money since the 2014 election cycle, the first cycle campaign of his first term that began in January 2013. Heitkamp has positioned himself among the most open members of Congress in support of lifting the ban.

DEPA has also used the language "miracle" in its defense materials associated with the push to lift the ban on oil exports.

Months after dinner, Hamm testified at a hearing before the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. UU And he asked for the end of oil. export ban. The metadata from that testimony reviewed by DeSmog show that his speech was written by Continental's then director of public relations, Mary Ann Osko .

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style= Image credit: US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

According to a story published by Bloomberg, Hamm " visited the Capitol almost weekly and testified in some of the at least nine congressional hearings on exports."

Rebranding Fracking: "Drilling horizontal "

Continental also made a concerted effort to move away from the term" fracking "and chose to use the term" horizontal drilling "to describe the hydraulic fracturing technique.

" The objectives of the team of public relations to show the benefits of the revival of oil and natural gas in the United States changed the vernacular language of fracking to horizontal drilling and launched exports of crude oil to the Top of the US political agenda UU achieved, "explained Continental in document (emphasis added) .

Continental's choice of diction has a basis in the academic literature on the subject. ]

A study conducted in July 2013 by Louisiana State University (LSU) The professors of the Public Policy Research Lab concluded that "the unpleasant sound of the word 'Fracking' could be partially responsible for the vision of the safety of the process" and that those "Whoever did not hear the word … is more likely to say that they think the process is safe."

A previous study conducted by public relations firm Gregory FCA came to similar conclusions.

"The same term 'fracking' has a negative connotation … The industry needs to identify negatively charged words and replace them with positive language," says a February blog post. and 2011 by Gregory FCA. "The industry needs to control history by controlling the lexicon through creative and positive words that tell a vivid story and block the language of critics."

Hamm used the term "horizontal drilling" five times during his testimony in Congress in January 2014 and four additional times in a Forbes opinion piece published by Hamm advocating a lifting of the US oil export ban.

The company also emphasized that this is a "rebirth " and not a "boom" in its public relations efforts. B ooms are often overlooked since we have shown in DeSmog repeatedly, most recently in the case of where Bakken it can be headed .

Continental representatives also repeatedly used the term " rebirth" in media appearances, during legislative testimony at the state and federal level, at public speaking events, a call for earnings from the company, and on the company's website.

DEPA also uses "Renaissance" language on its promotional website, PowerPoint presentations, press releases, newspaper editorials and in letters written to responsible for formulating policies. DEPA had little to say in response to questions sent by email by DeSmog.

"I can tell you that DEPA is very proud of the bipartisan work to educate that we have done and will continue to do with respect to all forms of energy", Peter Regan , executive director of DEPA, told DeSmog.

Continental replies

L ifting the ban on oil exports is something that Oil Change International called equivalent to cooking the climate an analysis also shared by the Center for Biological Diversity and others.

But when DeSmog asked if Continental thought climate change was a problem, Kristin Thomas, Continental's vice president of public relations, said the company " does not take an official position on the subject ."

Instead, Thomas noted the report of Continental's corporate responsibility that does not mention climate change or global warming. The impacts of climate change on lifting the export ban, as expected, did not become the narrative argument of Continental PR for reporters.

Thomas also denied that the PR campaign, in essence, was aimed at winning continental and oil industry advertising.

"It's not about looking for press coverage to portray [to someone positively ," he said in an email. "This is a subject that was and is very important."

Maura Stephens, associate director of the Park Center for Independent Journalism at Ithaca College, disagrees.

"Obviously, some of its leading editors are being directed by their editors and producers to simply repeat what industry spokesmen and corrupt politicians say," Stephens told DeSmog.

"And apparently American politicians are unable or disinterested to distinguish between public relations propaganda and scientific and economic evidence." This type of parody highlights how critical for democracy is that people tune into independent, non-corporate news sources. "

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