A coalition of environmental groups formed to launch an ad campaign against fracking is out with a new radio spot about the busing of people to a public hearing 200 miles away, including one man who said he came from a homeless shelter and several who didn’t seem to know why they were there.
“They’re at it again,” a male narrator says in the ad. “Looks like the oil and gas guys are so morally bankrupt they’re busing homeless people to public hearings on fracking, hoodwinking them into wearing pro-fracking T-shirts because they’re so desperate for supporters.”
The ad by the N.C. Environmental Partnership is running statewide until Sept. 30, the last day for public comments to the state Mining and Energy Commission, which is developing regulations for drilling for natural gas. The commercial calls for listeners to contact the commission.
The coalition, which is funded by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Southern Environmental Law Center, is comprised of eight conservation organizations. It’s involved in a slug-fest with the American Petroleum Institute, which last month bought radio ads promoting fracking, and thanking seven state lawmakers who support it, six of whom are up for re-election. Most of those legislators were targeted in N.C. Environmental Partnership TV ads that dubbed them “The Fracking Crew.”
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Last week, the free-market Civitas Institute filed complaints contending state elections and lobbying laws were violated by the two environmental organizations paying for the TV ads.
Newspaper coverage and a video by the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League indicate several people with pro-fracking T-shirts attended the Sept. 12 hearing in Cullowhee, and knew nothing about the issue. One of the men told The Sylva Herald that he stayed at a homeless shelter in Winston-Salem.
The Winston-Salem Journal talked to a Winston-Salem businessman who is chairman of an American Petroleum Institute-sponsored group that supports fracking, who said he arranged for the bus trip. The man, Algenon Cash, has done charitable work with the shelter.
Cash told the newspaper he solicited through his email distribution list people who might want to take the bus to the meeting. He said one man said he would attend and bring others. The paper said Cash didn’t know that some of the approximately 30 people who took the bus might have been misinformed. Cash said he drove there separately.