Senate bill 508, which severely limits nuisance lawsuits against frackers and companies that cause pollution, noise, or any other disruption, was introduced on February 4 and was passed and sent to the House of Delegates on February 23. (I've previously written about this bill here and here). With the same morning and afternoon article, today's local "newspapers" cover the bill for the first time - a month after the bill was introduced. Unfortunately for its readership, the locals' coverage appears to be an industry PR release with a Jeff Kessler quote added to give the article the appearance of balance. Here is why I believe the article is nothing more than a public relations release:
The article claims to be from Charleston but it has neither an AP byline nor any reporter's name attached to it. A Google search of the article or the quoted industry sources yields nothing.
More importantly, there is very little balance in the article. While industry sources are quoted throughout the article, opposition to the legislation is represented by four sentences including a two-sentence quote from Senator Jeff Kessler. (My hunch is that the Kessler quote, from an earlier Charleston Gazette-Mail article on the legislation, was added to the PR release to give the appearance of balance.) Kessler's reason for opposition is a good one, that the 60-day notice prolongs the problem for the homeowner, but it sets it up as a straw-man since it is certainly not the only reason to oppose the bill. The industry sources include a homebuilder and Chris Hamilton, who is listed as the Chairman of the West Virginia Business and Industry Council. Hamilton may be the chair of that council but shouldn't readers also know that he is also Co-Chairman of the WV Coal Forum and Senior Vice President of the West Virginia Coal Association? (At least he was a month ago when the Intelligencer quoted him on severance tax relief.) Thus the article extensively quotes two sources with much to gain yet it cites nothing from homeowners or citizen-groups with lots to lose.
Once again we find the local "newspapers" functioning as the propaganda outlet for the fossil fuel industry.