Orange County Register Flambéed for Fawning Over Frickin' Fracking

A media watchdog is barking about a recent Orange County Register editorial on an industry-friendly study boosting fracking, the controversial oil drilling technique critics fear causes earthquakes and groundwater contamination.

"Despite the Register's ringing endorsement of the findings, experts have challenged the study on several fronts," writes Salvatore Colleluori of the progressive Media Matters for America.

The Register's unsigned, Jan. 4 editorial "No Need to Fear Fracking" deemed the technique safe because it says so in a 206-page study that was required as part of a 2011 legal settlement between community and environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Plains Exploration and Production Co., owner and operator of the Inglewood Oil Field in Los Angeles County.

"Indeed, the weight of objective scientific evidence suggests that fracturing is a safe technique," the Santa Ana daily concluded. "Properly regulated, there is no reason for California to restrict it."

First off, the Register is endorsing regulations? Wow, things really have changed on Grand Avenue. But what the funny paper conveniently left out is the NRDC took issue with the study because it focused on the short- rather than long-term effects of fracking, as Colleluori writes.

The environmental group also has problems with calling the evidence presented in the study as "objective" because it was funded by PXP, an oil company, and at least one peer reviewer, John P. Martin, has ties to the oil and gas industry, Damon Nagami observes in a NRDC blog.

The NRDC and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Scott have called for more review from independent experts who have no financial stake in the study's outcome. Ridley-Scott's supervisorial district includes the oil fields, the Register's circulation area does not.

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