Help from their peers is on the way to Rockies producers who hope to open more of the region to oil and gas exploration and production programs. The Independent Petroleum Association of America will launch a pilot public-relations program in the Rockies to answer anti-development campaigns. "It's time for the industry to stand up and tell our story," said Steve Hinchman, senior vice president, worldwide production, Marathon Oil Corp. "...If we act, [with] almost any action at all...we can make a difference." Hinchman made the announcement at the annual IPAA meeting, which was in New Orleans. The Rockies advocacy program will include a regional and local media campaign. "Our success depends on your comment and support," Hinchman told fellow IPAA members. The oil industry has an audience anxious to hear the facts, he added. "The people really do want to hear our story and they trust our story more than these [anti-development] groups' [message]." For example, citizens in the Powder River Basin region were shown that the Wyoming Outdoor Council, an anti-development organization, receives most of its funds from out of state, and the information resulted in some new support for E&P interests. "As an industry, we need to take action. It may not be exactly the right action, but no action [is not the answer]," Hinchman said. A bulk of the Rockies anti-development groups' funding comes from West Coast- and East Coast-based philanthropies such as the Ben & Jerry's Foundation, Farm Aid, Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Rockefeller Foundation, Hinchman said. Interestingly, some of the philanthropies-such as Pew and Rockefeller-were founded with proceeds from E&P activity. Ironically, many foundations' investments-their source of profits, which they pay out in grants-include E&P companies. "Capitalists funding anti-capitalism," said Ron Arnold, executive vice president, Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, Bellevue, Washington. He is the author of Undue Influence, about the sources of environmental advocacy groups' funding. Tremendous amounts of money are going into organizations that are protesting oil and gas development in the U.S. and abroad, Arnold told IPAA members. "You may say 'Thank God we're going overseas.' Well, you won't be alone," he added. There are more than 90 activist groups in Russia fighting development, for example. The oil and gas industry's work in the Rockies and elsewhere will be hard, he warned. "You are a day late and a dollar short. Who loves big corporations? You don't hug trees. You don't even kiss babies." And, professional help will be needed. "If you think you're going to do this with just your friends, count your friends." He added that he understands the need for oil and gas exploration and production. "All you producers in the world are [who] keep people alive. What would we do without energy? We would die." He added that he plans another book: Freezing in the Dark-The Green Energy Plan for Your Future. Hinchman said, "The anti-development forces [are]...significantly affecting our industry." He has had personal experience in working with these organizations in the Powder River Basin. In the early 1980s it took two weeks to get a drilling permit in that area; today, 90 days, if at all. Environmental impact statements take years to complete, "with industry paying the bill," he said. "Anti-development organizations are well-funded, well-organized and networked, and their objective is to delay, limit or deny access, and they are succeeding." The oil industry is not measuring up. "The results are obvious: we're losing the battle...The problem is we're not telling our story. We're leaving a vacuum and the vacuum is being filled by the anti-development message." -Nissa Darbonne
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