Energy In Depth

Energy In Depth

Background

Energy In Depth (EID) is a program launched as a joint effort of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and the “independent global business advisory firm” FTI Consulting to promote and defend unconventional gas development (fracking). In a October 2014 “Technical Paper,” FTI Consulting outlined how it teamed with the IPAA in 2009 to launch EID as “a research, education and rapid response platform specifically focused on telling the story of unconventionals development.” [1]

PR Watch reported in 2012 the campaign was effectively a “PR operation for the industry's multi-billion dollar financial interests in 'unconventional' drilling” of natural gas. DeSmog obtained a leaked memo in 2011 that revealed Energy In Depth “would not be possible without the early financial commitments” of major oil and gas interests including BP, Halliburton, Chevron, Shell, XTO Energy (now owned by ExxonMobil), and several other large oil and gas companies. [2][3]

A October 2014 technical paper from FTI on “tools and tactics used to manage aboveground risks” — “aboveground risks” being opposition to oil and gas development and fracking — outlines EID as an example of a “successful rapid response campaign” (emphasis added): [1]

“Through our experience managing aboveground risks in the United States and around the world, we have learned that no matter what challenge a company, coalition or organization is facing - whether it is opposition to hydraulic fracking, widespread deception about oil sands and pipelines, or lack of awareness on LNG exports - all risks can be managed and eventually neutralized if addressed early on and with the right set of tools and tactics,” the paper, which FTI presented at a 2014 Oil & Gas Expo and Conference, concludes. [3]

FTI also discuses how it employs “rapid response” to criticism of the oil and gas industry by amplifying its message through “allies.”

EID is constantly and proactively setting the record straight by engaging and educating the public and consistently holding the opposition accountable. It has installed a system that lets allies be identified and their activities intensified and maximized on a daily basis. It has raised a group of local supporters and been successful in mobilizing the community to advance all the objectives of the industry, no matter if local, national or international.” Emphasis added).[3]

DeSmog reported in 2011 how Energy In Depth launched a public relations effort to discredit the documentary Gasland. At that time, DeSmog found that Energy In Depth's website was registered to FD Americas Public Affairs, formerly Dittus Communications. FD Americas Public Affairs is listed on FTI Consulting's annual reports as a subsidiary. [4], [5], [6], [7]

Stance on Climate Change

2019

FTI Consulting's Energy In Depth campaign has consistently advocated for natural gas as a solution to reduce carbon emissions. EID maintains its own subdomain, EnergyInDepth Climate and Environment (eidclimate.org), promoting the “Climate Benefits of Natural Gas” and criticizing the #ExxonKnew initiative to determine if the oil company had misled the public about climate change: [8]

“You’ve probably heard environmental activists attack hydraulic fracturing (fracking) because they say it worsens climate change. But like so much of the anti-fossil fuel “Keep It In the Ground” campaign, what they are saying has no basis in science or evidence.”

[…]

“By unlocking an abundant and low-cost fuel like natural gas, the fracking revolution has been a clear winner for the economy, our national security, and the climate.”

Funding

DeSmog obtained a leaked memo in 2011 that revealed Energy In Depth “would not be possible without the early financial commitments” of major oil and gas interests including BP, Halliburton, Chevron, Shell, XTO Energy (now owned by ExxonMobil), and several other large oil and gas companies. [3]

Key People

Nicole (Jacobs) Schomburg — Team Lead

According to LinkedIn, Schomburg is a senior consultant at FTI and has been team lead for Energy In Depth since April 2011. [9]

Mike Catanzaro — Former managing director.

Mike Catanzaro previously worked as a managing director at FTI Consulting before going to work as a top energy policy aide in the Trump administration from 2017 to 2018. [10]

Steve Everley Managing Director of Strategic Communications.

Everley is senior advisor to Energy In Depth and current spokesman for Texans for Natural Gas. He was also energy policy advisor to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich at the American Enterprise Institute and American Solutions. [11]

Dave Quast — Senior Director of Strategic Communications. [12]

Dave Quast is a California director of Energy In Depth. Quast formerly worked as director of public affairs at the Cato Institute.

Steve Wright — Hired by FTI Consulting in Australi and worked as director of the pro-fracking Energy Resource Information Center. [13], [14]

Katie Brown — Director of Strategic Communications

Katie Brown joined FTI Consulting in 2013, and as of 2015 she was a spokesperson for Energy In Depth. According to her profile in a 2015 FTI Consulting presentation to the oil industry, “in addition to a similar role played for the Shale Resource Centre (Canada’s Energy In Depth program). She was also a spokesperson and primary writer for Oil Sands Fact Check, an education campaign on the Keystone XL pipeline.” She previously served for the Republican minority at the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. [15]

Chris Tucker — Managing director, strategic communications.

Tucker was listed as team lead for Energy In Depth, according to a 2013 profile, which notes “His primary areas of focus and expertise reside in the oil, natural gas and mining sectors.” Tucker was a communications and energy advisor to U.S. Rep. John Peterson (Pa.) and Minority Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.) and also communications director to the House Energy Action Team. [16]

Jim Willis — Previously described as a “special correspondent” for Energy In Depth Marcellus (EID-M). DeSmog has reported that Willis runs Marcellus Drilling News (MDN), a website with commentary that “frequently carries overtones of religious and racial animus.” [17], [18]

“Run by Jim Willis, MDN has compared multiple fracking critics — everyone from state attorneys general to climate scientists to a group representing 16,000 doctors and medical students — to Nazis. One of Willis’s apparent favorite images, used to accompany more than two dozen articles, shows a bright green man wearing a gas mask, surrounded by a garish rainbow, with a giant swastika on his chest. 'Enviro-Nazis Say Marcellus Pipelines Equal Global Warming,' a headline to one such piece reads.” [18]

Willis also used the image next to commentary on #ExxonKnew. He has said such investigations were demonstrating “[u]nbridled, Nazi-like powers against private citizens and private companies by a state run amok…” [18]

Simon R. Lomax

According to his profile at the Independence Institute, Simon Lomax formerly served as research director and western director for Energy In Depth. He was also a managing director of FTI Consulting from 2012 to 2017. [19], [20]

Chris Broyles — Managing director, strategic comunications, FTI Consulting.

According to his profile at FTI, Broyles has had EID as one of his clients. [36]

Matt Dempsey — Managing director of strategic communications, FTI Consulting.

Matt Dempsey has been a consultant for Energy In Depth, according to his profile at Western Wire where he works as opinion editor. Dempsey formerly worked as communications director for the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Committee, and also in the same role among the personal staff of notorious climate change denier Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla). [42]

Northwest Marcellus Initiative

EID previously maintained a website for a Northeast Marcellus Initiative with the following staff listed as of 2012: [21]

  • Tom Shepstone — Campaign Manager.
  • Bill deRosiers — Field Director.
  • Nicole Jacobs — Field Director.
  • Rachael Colley — Field Director.
  • JD Krohn — Communications Director.
  • Chris Tucker — Team Lead.

Actions

September 17, 2019

Energy In Depth, and its affiliated website Energy In Depth Health & Safety, provided a selective interpretation of a health study on fracking suggesting that the “New Report Shows No Link Between Fracking And Health Problems.” [39]

The original report, which was an examination of available literature on the health effects of fracking and related activities by the Health Effects Institute affiliate HEI Energy, suggested that due to the recent emergence of fracking there needs to be more studies to fully understand the health effects. EID's interpretation capitalizes on this as a supposed lack of clear evidence, and suggests the report is evidence of “no direct association between fracking and illnesses.” [40]

Contrary to this EID claim, the original study suggests that a lack of data in many cases was the issue, and the takeaway point is that more studies need to be done to fully assess the health impacts:

“The limitations [on existing studies] include the lack of quantified exposures, the potential for residual confounding, inconsistencies in design and results across studies, and the limited number of studies for any one outcome,” the HEI Energy study notes.

“The Committee noted, however, that given the range of activities and chemicals to which populations surrounding UOGD activities may be exposed, it is critical that additional high-quality research be undertaken to better understand the potential for human exposure and health effects from UOGD.” (Emphasis added).

Among the reasons cited for the limitations on prior studies was the secrecy of the fracking industry itself, with some chemicals used in the fracking process remaining unidentified.

“All of the hazard identification papers were limited by the fact that some chemicals used in UOGD operations have not been identified (Fisk and Good 2019), while other chemicals have limited toxicity data (Yost et al. 2016a).”

It is also worth noting that the sponsors of HEI-Energy, the group that conducted the study, is almost entirely comprised of major oil and gas companies: [41]

  • Chevron
  • ConocoPhillips
  • Equinor
  • Halliburton Energy Services, Inc.
  • Noble Energy
  • Schlumberger
  • Shell Oil Company
  • ExxonMobil

November 2017

EID launched a new microsite, Energy In Depth Climate & Environment. In addition to advertising the “climate benefits of natural gas,” the website is dedicated to criticizing #ExxonKnew, which included efforts by attorneys general to determine whether oil giant ExxonMobil had deceived the public regarding how much it knew about climate change science and when. [22], [23]

The website claims that #ExxonKnew was an elaborate campaign funded by the Rockefellers and brand it as a threat to free speech: [24]

“Well-devised and generously funded environmental campaigns are nothing new. But from the very beginning, the #ExxonKnew campaign has been different. It has brought together activists, rich donors (like the Rockefellers), academics, and even organizations that pass themselves off as news outlets. It has manufactured its own echo chamber not just as a vehicle for advocacy, but also to prod government officials to open investigations into entities that haven’t supported the kinds of policies that environmentalists want.

If you think that sounds like a threat to free speech, you’re right – and the #ExxonKnew activists have admitted they are doing exactly that.”

Under a “What Experts Say” section, the website cites nearly entirely sources from conservative and industry-funded think tanks or representatives directly from the oil industry. Examples include Horace Cooper of the National Center for Public Policy Research, Craig Richardson of the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, Jay Timmons of the National Association of Manufacturers, Ben van Beurden (CEO of Royal Dutch Shell), and C. Boyden Gray. [25]

October 2017

DeSmog reported that EID was active in quashing an anti-fracking initiative by activists in Youngstown, Ohio. Despite receiving the required number of signatures to get on the ballot, on October 6, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that two proposed ballot initiatives — one to outlaw fracking and fracking waste injections and another to regulate political campaign contributions within city limits — would not be up for a vote in November 2017: [26]

Soon after the Community Bill of Rights Committee gathered enough signatures for both initiatives to head to vote, the oil and gas industry launched a unique media campaign against not only the initiatives but the local ballot initiative process itself. The talking point: Local ballot measures cost taxpayers too much money and should be avoided.

Earlier this year the pro-fossil fuel outreach website Energy In Depth filed a freedom of information request from the City of Youngstown for costs associated with the local ballot initiative process. (In 2011 DeSmog exposed Energy In Depth, which billed itself as the product of small, independent oil and gas producers, as being funded by some of the biggest fossil fuel companies on the planet, including BP, Shell, Chevron, and XTO Energy/ExxonMobil.)

Energy In Depth reported that the city had spent $185,000 on the previous six anti-fracking ballot measures. 

However, a DeSmog analysis of the same records shows that this figure is misleading and inaccurate. The $185,000 figure represents the total cost of six primary and general elections between 2013 and 2016, which included much more than just the anti-fracking initiatives.

According to the fiscal officer of the Mahoning County Board of Elections, which bills the City of Youngstown for election costs, there were five other charter amendments, 15 liquor options, and one county health board question that contributed to the city’s election invoice. Additionally, the figure touted by Energy In Depth includes paying poll workers in half of those elections, a regular cost incurred whether or not ballot measures were up for vote.

Despite this inaccuracy, Energy In Depth’s talking point and the $185,000 figure were quickly picked up by local outlets, fossil fuel–friendly publications and business journals. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce even compared the $185,000 to the amount of money that was spent managing the months-long anti-Dakota Access camps at Standing Rock (roughly $38 million) in a post called “The High Cost of Fracking Protesters.”

Energy In Depth celebrated the “the worst year on record for fringe environmental activists like CELDF.” [27]

“This isn’t the first time the Ohio Supreme Court has struck down CELDF in Ohio and it probably won’t be the last. But for now, and for the first time since 2013, Youngstown voters won’t have to fork over thousands of dollars of taxpayer money to put the so-called “Community Bill of Rights” measure on the ballot. And for the people who actually live and work here (unlike Mazza and CELDF) we applaud the Ohio Supreme Court for its swift action to — at least temporarily — bring an end to CELDF’s costly madness.”

January 7, 2017

Energy in Depth (EID) wrote a blog post alleging — as DeSmog reported was without evidence — that Russia funds the anti-fracking movement in the United States. EID pointed to a then-recent intelligence report examining Russia's attempts to influence the 2016 US Election. [28], [29]

March 25, 2015

Energy in Depth promoted a study to discredit prior work by Duke University that had found hydraulic fracturing in Pennyslvania could be contaminating drinking water supplies. [30], [31]

View the original study by Duke University here.

“A new peer-reviewed study discredits findings of controversial research claiming that higher concentrations of dissolved methane in domestic water wells can be associated with proximity to nearby gas-producing wells in northeastern Pennsylvania – and it does so using a much larger sampling size and pre-drill baselines,” the Energy In Depth article begins.

A correction has since been added to the original study cited by EID to “thank the Chesapeake Energy Corporation for access to their baseline groundwater data” for use in the study and noting that “The lead author was funded privately by Chesapeake for this work.” [32]

EID/FTI Consulting later list this as a success story in a 2015 presentation to the Tennessee Oil and Gas Association: [32]

2011

DeSmog uncovered an industry memo that outlined the major oil and gas interests behind Energy In Depth including companies such as BP, Halliburton, Chevron, Shell, and XTO Energy (now owned by ExxonMobil).

The 2009 memo describes Energy In Depth as a “major initiative to respond to […] attacks” and to devise and circulate 'coordinated messages' using 'new communications tools that are becoming the pathway of choice in national political campaigns.'” The memo states:

“The 'Energy In Depth' project would not be possible without the early financial commitments of: El Paso Corporation, XTO Energy, Occidental Petroleum, BP, Anadarko, Marathon, EnCana, Chevron, Talisman, Shell, API, IPAA, Halliburton, Schlumberger and the Ohio Oil and Gas Association.”

View the full memo, dated June 2009, below:

January 2011

As reported at DeSmog, shortly after the release of the award-winning documentary Gasland was released, Energy In Depth launched a public relations offensive against the film.[4]

A 2015 presentation made by FTI Consulting to the Tennessee Oil and Gas Associations outlines how they viewed Energy in Depth's attack on Gasland as a success:

EID Debunking Gasland

Energy In Depth also goes on to take credit for launching “Truthland” to combat Gasland. Lee Fang reported in The Nation that data from 990 tax forms had revealed Truthland was funded with a $1 million grant from America's Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA), “a consortium of fracking firms including Devon Energy, Apache, Noble Energy, Range Resources, XTO Energy, Southwestern Energy and Pioneer Natural Resources, among others.” Ben Nelson of LittleSis reported that the Truthland website was briefly registered to the Oklahoma office of Chesapeake energy before the registration was changed and hidden behind a proxy. [33]

Below is a screenshot of the Energy In Depth/FTI Consulting slide taking credit for the campaign:

Related Organizations

EID maintains numerous state-level affiliates:

EID Iterations

Energy Resource Information Centre (Australia)

According to an archive of the group's now-defunct website, the Energy Resource Information Centre “promotes the natural gas industry and provides a fact based, evidence led source of information about natural gas exploration and development.” [34]

We are funded by the natural gas industry, and make no secret of that fact.

Our membership includes major exploration and production companies, along with companies that support the responsible development of Australia’s natural gas industry. 

With support from industry participants, the Energy Resource Information Centre builds on the deep expertise of the US-based Energy In Depth campaign, the Shale Resource Centre Canada, and Shale Gas Europe.”

The website notes that “Resourcing for the Centre is provided by FTI Consulting, a global business advisory company.”

Shale Gas Europe

FTI Consulting noted in a report that it also runs the Shale Gas Europe campaign. According to an archive of the group's now-defunct website[37]

The shale gas debate in Europe is extremely important for the future of our energy supply. It is therefore essential that the debate is balanced, informative and engaging to allow the public to come to their own conclusions on the issue.

As a result, the industry decided to set-up a dedicated resource centre that is open to anyone who wants to understand more about shale gas, tight gas and coalbed methane. The secretariat of Shale Gas Europe is managed by FTI Consulting.

Launched in 2012, this platform will bring together industry, experts and academics to collect, share and communicate the interesting science and technology involved in shale gas exploration. It will also show the facts about the potential of responsibly developing Europe’s onshore energy reserves of shale gas.”

Energy Resource Information Centre (Australia)

According to an archive of the group's now-defunct website, the Energy Resource Information Centre “promotes the natural gas industry and provides a fact based, evidence led source of information about natural gas exploration and development.” [38]

We are funded by the natural gas industry, and make no secret of that fact.

Our membership includes major exploration and production companies, along with companies that support the responsible development of Australia’s natural gas industry. 

With support from industry participants, the Energy Resource Information Centre builds on the deep expertise of the US-based Energy In Depth campaign, the Shale Resource Centre Canada, and Shale Gas Europe.”

The website notes that “Resourcing for the Centre is provided by FTI Consulting, a global business advisory company.”

Contact & Address

EID listed the following on its web contact form, as of September 2019: [35]

Address
1201 15th Street NW
Suite 300
Washington, DC 20005

Phone:
(202)346-8879

Social Media

Resources

  1. Managing Aboveground Risks: Experience from the United States,” FTI Consulting, October 2014. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  2. Lisa Graves. “'Energy In Depth' – A Reporters' Guide to Its Founding, Funding, and Flacks,” PR Watch, December 28, 2012.

  3. Brendan DeMelle. “‘Energy In Depth’ Was Created By Major Oil and Gas Companies According to Industry Memo,” DeSmog, February 17, 2011.

  4. Emma Pullman. “Industry Groups Fight Dirty Against Oscar-Nominated Hydraulic Fracturing Documentary 'Gasland',” DeSmog, January 25, 2011.

  5. Kevin Grandia. “Who are the spindoctors behind the attack on Gasland?DeSmog, June 22, 2010.

  6. FD Americas Public Affairs,” FD Americas Public Affairs. Archived August 4, 2010. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/BtcO9

  7. “Expanding Global Capabilities: Annual Report 2011” (PDF)FTI Consulting. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  8. THE CLIMATE BENEFITS OF NATURAL GAS,” Energy In Depth. Archived September 20, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/DlrJk

  9. Nicole (Jacobs) Schomburg,” LinkedIn. Accessed September 21, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  10. Steve Horn. “Trump Names Industry Lobbyist and Climate Science Denier Mike Catanzaro as Top White House Energy Aide,” DeSmog, February 8, 2017.

  11. Steve Everley,” FTI Consulting. Archived September 20, 2019.

  12. Dave Quast,” FTI Consulting. Archived September 20, 2019.

  13. FTI Consulting adds 4 senior hires to its Australian team,” Consultancy.uk, October 17, 2014. Archived September 19, 2019. Archive.fo URL:https://archive.fo/JWxW0

  14. Coal seam gas debate: Dayne Pratzky vs Steve Wright,” ABC, March 18, 2015. Archived September 20, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/FarLw

  15. Katie Brown. “The American Shale Boom: Looking Back and Forward” (PDF), FTI Consulting, May 21, 2015. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  16. “Environmental Issues Affecting Midstream and Downstream Oil & Gas Development” (PDF), Joint presentation of HULL and Blank Rome LLP, October 23, 2013. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  17. SENATOR TOM LIBOUS TALKS TO EID MARCELLUS,” Energy In Depth, March 5, 2012. Archived September 20, 2019.

  18. Sharon Kelly. “In Some Pennsylvania Pro-Fracking Corners, Name-calling, False Claims, and Swastika-Laden Images Circulate,” DeSmog, May 1, 2019.

  19. Simon Lomax,” Independence Institute. Archived August 13, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/c5rJR

  20. Pamela King. “Western energy group launches publication,” E&E News. January 25, 2017. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  21. Who We Are,” Energy In Depth Northeast Marcellus Initiative. Archived december 6, 2012. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/D9L8v

  22. Get the Facts on the Climate Benefits of #NatGas at EID's New Microsite, Energy In Depth Climate & Environment,” Tweet by @EnergyInDepth, November 10, 2017. Archived .png on file at DeSmog.

  23. THE CLIMATE BENEFITS OF NATURAL GAS,” Energy In Depth. Archived September 20, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/DlrJk

  24. AN ORCHESTRATED CAMPAIGN,” EnergyInDepth Climate & Environment. Archived September 20, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/cWNcd

  25. WHAT EXPERTS SAY,” EnergyInDepth Climate & Environment. Archived September 20, 2019. Archive.fo URL:https://archive.fo/LFlDs

  26. Simon Davis-Cohen. “Fossil Fuel Misinformation Helps Quash Community Effort to Ban Fracking in Youngstown, Ohio,” DeSmog, October 18, 2017.

  27. CELDF’S WORST YEAR YET: OHIO SUPREME COURT REJECTS YOUNGSTOWNBILL OF RIGHTSAPPEAL,” Energy In Depth, October 9, 2017. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/aNWeD

  28. Steve Horn. “Fracking Fans Use Intelligence Report to Revive Baseless Claim Russia Funds U.S. Anti-Fracking Movement,DeSmog, January 10, 2017.

  29. Seth Whitehead. “REPORT: RUSSIA BACKED ANTI-FRACKING PROPAGANDA IN ATTEMPT TO UNDERMINE U.S. INDUSTRY,” Energ In Depth, January 9, 2017. Archived September 20, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/ie267

  30. Pennsylvania fracking called peril to water,” The Toledo Blade, July 9, 2012. Archived September 20, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/yqaEv

  31. NEW PEER-REVIEWED STUDY LATEST TO DISCREDIT DUKE METHANE PAPERS,” Energy In Depth, March 25, 2015. Archived September 20, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/5l78I

  32. Correction to Methane Concentrations in Water Wells Unrelated to Proximity to Existing Oil and Gas Wells in Northeastern Pennsylvania,” ACS Publications.

  33. Lee Fang. “The Fracking Industry’s Dishonest Response to ‘Gasland’,” The Nation, November 18, 2013. Archived September 20, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/TUCub 

  34. About Us,” Energy Resource Information Center. Archived June 22, 2017. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/sGg6i

  35. CONTACT US,” Energy In Depth. Archived September 23, 2019. Archive.fo URL:https://archive.fo/wxdYD

  36. Chris Broyles,” FTI Consulting. Archived September 23, 2019. Archive.fo URL:https://archive.fo/vsrWZ

  37. About Shale Gas Europe,” Shale Gas Europe.  Archived January 6, 2014. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/VyiSg

  38. About Us,” Energy Resource Information Center. Archived June 22, 2017. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/sGg6i

  39. William Allison. “New Report Shows No Link Between Fracking And Health Problems” (PDF), Energy In Depth Health & Safety, September 17, 2019. Archived September 23, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/06cKu

  40. POTENTIAL HUMAN HEALTH EFFECTS ASSOCIATED WITH UNCONVENTIONAL OIL AND GAS DEVELOPMENT: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW OF THE EPIDEMIOLOGY LITERATURE” (PDF), HEI-Energy Research Comittee, September 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  41. Sponsors,” HEI Energy. Archived September 23, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/RnK6N

  42. About Us,” Western Wire. Archived September 19, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/Sw8r1

Other Resources