A Year Ago, IBD Noted Venezuelan Funding of Flawed 'Gasland' Documentary on Which EPA's 'Crucify' Official Collaborated

A year ago in March, an Investor's Business Daily editorial ("America's Enemies Don't Want U.S. Drilling") informed readers that "the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington put out a Twitter post expressing disappointment that the documentary 'Gasland' didn't win an Academy Award." Specifically: "Sadly, 'Gasland' didn't win an Oscar, because a Vzlan helped make it," Venezuela's Twitterer whined." IBD went on to note that "Gasland" had "a Venezuelan production assistant, Irene Yibirin, who ... (has) ties to the (Chavez) government's Foundation National Cinematheque. ... [O]n the site, she praised Chavez."

Why is this relevant? Well, as another IBD editorial on Thursday noted, EPA Region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz, who became deservedly infamous last week when his public articulation of his "Crucify Them" philosophy towards enforcement of environmental laws and regulations in a speech a year ago was exposed, really loves the film, which industry officials have shown is riddled with deceptions and outright falsehoods. Not only that, he was also involved in making it:

Armendariz said in the same speech his proudest moment in his first year at EPA was to have its enforcers watch “Gasland,” an anti-fracking propaganda documentary financed by the government of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, who also opposes all U.S. drilling. Armendariz collaborated with its makers, and got his name in the credits.

IBD could have and perhaps should have gone much further in its criticism of Antagonistic Al. Armendariz, whose resume communicates what should be a high level of relevant scientific expertise, had to throw any fealty he had to the scientific method overboard by becoming associated with the "Gasland" and praising its final result.

The Independent Petroleum Association of America's Energy In Depth blog thoroughly debunked so much of what is in "Gasland" in June 2010 that one almost has to conclude that the list of truths in the film was miles shorter than the list of false assertions and contentions. The film misstated facts about provisions in laws passed by Congress; misrepresented the degree to which fracking is currently regulated; completely miscommunicated key facts relating to the fracking process; recycled long-discredited environmentalist memes; and in at least seven instances, in the blog post's words, was "just making stuff up." In February 2011, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ignored industry objections to the film's eligibility for an Academy Award. Well, at least it didn't win. Sorry, Hugo.

Further, it would appear that:

  • One of the film's "hooks," namely that producer Josh Fox was offered $100,000 for the right to drill on his land, is highly questionable at best and complete fiction at worst. This claim was parroted in a June 1, 2010 Associated Press story, which also relayed Fox's claim (with what I believe to be little or no skepticism) that he was still receiving such offers. A separate EID blog post on June 7, 2011 by Tom Shepstone makes a compelling case that it's virtually impossible that Fox received such an offer, and that if he did, it couldn't have come from the company whose documents are, according to Shepstone, the only ones which conform "with the format and wording of the document displayed in Gasland."
  • Another dramatic hook, namely "the much-vaunted and disturbing image of flammable running water from faucets," is similarly bogus in the supposed "lesson" it tries to communicate: "Well yes, apparently many can (do this) – but sadly for Gasland, for reasons au naturelle. Fox highlights the instance of a flammable faucet in Fort Lupton, Colorado pinning the blame on gas development. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission however disagree(s), maintaining, 'Dissolved methane in well water appears to be biogenic [natural occurring] in origin” and they found “no indications of oil and gas related impacts to the water well.'"
  • In general, filmmaker Josh Fox is a guy who isn't exactly wedded to the concepts of total accuracy and thorough vetting, having been quoted as follows: "I’m sorry but art is more important than politics. … Politics is people lying to you and simplifying everything; art is about contradictions."

Armendariz's involvement with "Gasland," especially as an alleged scientist, his praise of its deeply deceptive content, and his eagerness to brainwash his subordinates with it, all should make it obvious that he is unfit to hold his EPA post or any other position involving regulation.

Following the lead of the Obama administration, which IBD correctly asserted is protecting Armendariz, the establishment press is ignoring the aforementioned crucial elements of this story. Just two examples: The Associated Press, which on Thursday covered the EPA administrator's "apology" while erroneously reporting that Armendariz's outlook only applies to "bad players" who are "not complying with the law (Christopher Helman at Forbes made mincemeat of that claim by recounting the EPA's fantasy-based attempted crucifixion of Range Resources), has done no follow-up story in the intervening 2-1/2 days. Similarly and just as incorrectly, John M. Broder at the New York Times's Green Blog on Thursday claimed that Armendariz's crucifixions remarks targeted "some violators of pollution laws." Helman demonstrated that Range Resources violated no laws, and thanks to its corporate spine eventually forced an EPA courtroom retreat.

What's described here exemplifies yet again how reading key stories and editorials at Investor's Business Daily is indispensable if one wishes to be truly informed, because it so often addresses and exposes matters the establishment press should be covering -- and won't -- and is absolutely fearless in calling them out.

As to Armendariz's continued presence at EPA, I wrote on Thursday that "If this guy holds onto his job — forget the 'apology,' which can’t possibly undo Armendariz’s outlook as practiced — we will know all we need to know about the Obama administration’s regulatory mindset."

Well, now we know, and there can be no remaining doubt.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

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