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Butler County's great daily newspaper

Unfair comparison

The Butler Eagle, which bills itself as “Butler County’s great daily newspaper,” revealed itself to be little more than a propaganda organ of the Marcellus Shale Coalition. The recent article describing a program put on by Marcellus Outreach Butler and Section 27 Alliance which featured Raina Rippel, director of the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project (SWPA-EHP) was sloppy at best and reckless at worst.

SWPA-EHP is a nonprofit public health organization made up of, according to its website, “medical professionals, community service professionals, and public health scientists.” The information presented by Rippel was backed up by extensive research (with citations) and the ground work carried out by the team at SWPA-EHP. Rippel’s presentation reflected the fruit of the organization’s work with communities in its service area and the ever growing body of peer reviewed research about the health impacts of shale extraction, transport, and end use.

The article described Rippel as an “activst.”

The Marcellus Shale Coalition describes its mission as providing, “in-depth information to policymakers, regulators, media, and other public stakeholders on the positive impacts responsible natural gas production is having on families, businesses, and communities across the region.” The leader of that organization, David Spigelmyer, who has spent his entire career as a mouthpiece and fixer for the industry, lived up to that mission, providing only cherry picked quotes from studies that were not exactly positive for the industry after proclaiming residents deserve “a fact and science based discussion.” Spigelmyer’s testimony was a sales pitch and crisis management.

Spigelmyer was described as president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

I’m an activist. Spigelmyer is an activist. Rippel is the director of a public health organization. Equating the work of Rippel and Spigelmyer is like comparing Shakespeare with Pee-Wee Herman. One makes you think and the other makes you wonder what’s going on in the dark.

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