I was originally going to call this Update 2 and add it to the previous post on Murray Energy's control over the news flow in the Ohio Valley. The more research that I did, however, the more that I was bothered by the Intelligencer's willingness to print what looks like a PR release without first checking its accuracy and so I decided that it deserved its own post.
This morning's front-page story by Casey Junkins, "American Energy Dispute At an End," discusses the decision in a lawsuit brought by Murray Energy against American Energy Partners for use of the name, American Energy. (Murray Energy owns and operates a coal mine near Bealsville, Ohio called American Energy Corp.) My first reaction to this article was another "how is this news?" followed quickly by "and what is it doing on the front page?" If it were news, it would have been picked up by a number of newspapers in the region. But a quick google search revealed that only the Intelligencer and another Ogden newspaper, the Times-Leader, carried the decision. (Additionally, a blog post at Ohio.com at the Akron Beacon-Journal summarized the decision.) What about its news value? I don't think that it is much of a stretch to point out that the story impacts very few people beyond Robert Murray.
My guess is that this article is a rewritten PR release from Murray Energy. Look at the story's opening paragraph -- it has nothing to do with the subject at hand:
Since he had to object to an Ohio Department of Natural Resources plan that would have allowed natural gas companies to drill into his coal seams in 2012, Robert E. Murray has been battling to keep coal competitive with the alternative fuel amid increased environmental scrutiny.
Huh? Since when is natural gas considered an "alternative fuel" -- or is this part of the "newspaper's" recently-developed efforts to demonize natural gas? And what does it have to do with a lawsuit about a name? The article continues:
Murray, chairman, president and CEO of Murray Energy Corp., believes he scored somewhat of a victory after Aubrey McClendon's Oklahoma City-based natural gas firm, American Energy Partners, agreed to change the name of its Upper Ohio Valley operating division to Ascent Resources-Utica.
"We consider this matter resolved, and American Energy Corp. will continue to vigorously preserve, protect and defend its very good name," Murray spokesman Gary Broadbent said. "American Energy Corp. was pleased that the defendant in our lawsuit agreed to change its name to Ascent Resources-Utica."
"Somewhat of a victory?" Here's what Marcellusdrilling.com found:
American Energy Partners, LP (AELP) announced today that on September 9, 2015, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division dismissed all claims and counterclaims in the litigation commenced by American Energy Corporation (AEC), a subsidiary of Murray Energy Corporation, against AELP and Aubrey K. McClendon. This dismissal ends the litigation commenced by AEC over AELP’s alleged wrongful use of the name “American Energy.”
Note -- the Murray Energy site has nothing to say about the decision.
Additional note -- the Intelligencer is correct that American Energy Appalachia Holdings did change its name to Ascent Resources although this happened last January. (I could not find a reason for the name change.) The parent company that owns Ascent, however, is still called American Energy Partners -- that's also the name at the top of its website.
This is now the third day in a row that Murray Energy news has found its way to the front page. My guess is that tomorrow's News-Register will be different -- the Murray Energy world view will be moved to the editorial section where it will be found in either a Mike Myer's column or an editorial. If it does make it, look for phrases like "war on affordable electricity" and "sensible energy policy" and if Thursday's hearing is mentioned, "radical environmentalists."