Monday, August 18, 2014

Love NY: Don't Frack it Up and the Misinformation Highway

Betta Broad of Catskills Mountainkeeper and Susan Van Dolsen of SAPE and other antifracking groups

It will be impossible for Betta Broad and Susan Van Dolsen to produce an "episode" on the Rockaway Pipeline project that comes anywhere near truth when their sources are without merit and their knowledge of the topic they are covering is minimal. The result will be more confusion but they won't care because their point will only be to draw attention to the topic they care about and as long as they get the word frack in there it will be all good.

 When Nick Pinto who seems to specialize in pipeline opposition covered the Rockaway project for Gothamist and Vice, some of the reasons his reports were riddled in error are the same. From even the first sentence where he appears to think that Riis beach is in Brooklyn, his report demonstrates not his mastery of the topic he is writing about, but the opposite in fact. The Rockaway Pipeline is 26 inches in diameter with only a certain right of way on either side of its path. It does not pass under two beaches, (Riis and Tilden) but rather one. These errors only have to do with the location of a single cylinder. There are multiple maps on the project in different reports as well as actual maps of the city that one can even view on their computer so it is not like Mr. Pinto needed a FOIA request to get the details straight. Is it picayune to point out that Nick Pinto cannot even get the location of the project down straight, never mind other details more complicated than where this one pipe is going and what borough the Rockaway peninsula is in? It isn't when you consider that all of the activists have made it a point to confuse where this project is being built as well. Nick Pinto's errors are a result of him not knowing the topic he is writing about and him getting information on it from people who also don't know what they are talking about. Who are those people? They are defined as activists. Their activism is mostly connected (although not entirely) to antifracking opposition.

 Is it picayune to also point out that Mr Pinto also inaccurately states that Congressman Grimm introduced HR2606 in 2012? At least he didn't quote Clare Donahue's insane theory from his prior "article" in the gothamist about how less than a month after Sandy, Grimm pushed the law through Congress. The National Park Service and the city of NY in fact give testimony on that bill in the tail end of September 2011, more than a year prior to Mr. Pinto's version of reality, a hearing was had in Senate subcommittee in March of 2012, and the Senate passed their amended version of HR2606 a month prior to Hurricane Sandy. If a reporter cannot even get the who, the what, the when and the where down straight they are not doing quality journalism.

Mr. Pinto's reporting is flawed because he won't do his own research and because he doesn't understand that his sources (and they are activists) on a topic he is uninformed about are not trustworthy. The team of people who came together to produce misinformation on the rockaway project have unfortunately demonstrated that certain activists cannot be taken at their word. Those activists are not just effecting reporters. They actually are influencing people all over New York State and elsewhere, everywhere that a natural gas pipeline is proposed. Remember that they are pretending to be experts on a permitting process that is more complicated than a simple map of a straight line.

Journalists it seems won't look at what all of this means from a broader perspective. What has occurred with the Rockaway Pipeline project, the activism surrounding it and how the media has covered the issues is not actually a small unimportant story. It is one of the important stories of the day.

The militant survivalists, antifrackers and occupying forces who Mr. Pinto deems it important to give a platform to, have again decided they will demonstrate down at Riis.  As they say this will be a commentary on "what world we want to see". I want to see informed citizens in the world not the opposite.  Those activists don't care about the world I would choose to see though.

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