The American Oil and Gas Reporter - January 2012 - (Page 249)

Foundation For Energy Education TV Show To Tackle ‘The Hard Question’ By Danny Boyd Special Correspondent HOUSTON–As it steps into 2012 with an eye toward broadening its growing membership and industrywide appeal, Texas’ Foundation for Energy Education is playing a major role in helping to launch a television program aimed at educating the public about the realities of the oil and gas industry in Texas and energy challenges facing the nation. Plans call for The Hard Question to air initially in Houston, followed by a rollout in five other major media markets in Texas, says foundation President Pat French. “The bottom line is that energy is the most important issue of our age,” he stresses. “The Hard Question, as the title suggests, deals with tough issues that the public wants answers to.” The 30-minute program will include a news talk format and social media presence through Twitter and Facebook, as well as a major, informative online presence, French says. The foundation will use in-depth tracking and analysis to measure its influence with the broadcast team adhering to journalistic integrity and a commitment to exploring the most critical energy issues, he adds. The show, which will air on Sunday mornings, is being positioned to tap into audiences that already watch Face the Nation, Meet the Press, and other nationally popular Sunday news programs, he says. Veteran broadcaster Blanquita Walsh Cullum will moderate The Hard Question, French details. He says Cullum, who began her 25-year broadcasting career in San Antonio, is a regular on national network news and political talk shows. She was appointed to the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors by former President George W. Bush. Under George H.W. Bush, Cullum was White House liaison to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and executive assistant to the deputy director. Emmy-award winner Arthur Bergel will be director, French adds, with triple Emmy winner Michelle Fitzgerald serving as producer. Game Changer New Foundation for Energy Education Chairman David L. Bole says the production team of accomplished heavy-hitters will enable The Hard Question to correct incomplete and untruthful information about the industry for a U.S. public that remains skeptical or uniformed about the industry’s economic contributions and the solutions it offers. “In America, we face a tremendous challenge to provide our citizens with affordable, reliable energy,” says Bole, managing director at Quantum Energy Partners in Houston. “Educating the public about the technology, economics and politics associated with producing oil and gas will have a tremendous impact on our industry. Energy is so important to the future of our nation that we can’t afford to have decisions made on untruthful or incomplete information.” French says he believes the show will be a game changer for oil and gas. “The Hard Question will personify excellence and provide a platform to engage the public directly,” he asserts. “Paid advertising can be very successful, but it has limitations. The Hard Question allows us to engage the public directly and address our critics.” The program will be produced in Houston, ostensibly the world’s energy capital and home to a growing number of industry critics, French points out. In 2005, the Foundation for Energy Education conducted statewide studies about public attitudes toward the oil and gas industry. The results were a call to action, French recalls: Public perceptions were far more negative than expected. “Demographics in Texas have changed dramatically, and the amount of misunderstanding about our industry is astonishing,” he reports. “Citizens who have lived in Houston three years or fewer have far more negative attitudes toward the industry. Those are the people who don’t have any experience with oil and gas. They come from other states and countries. So it’s really a matter of educating that segment of the population. It’s vital because public attitudes determine, to a very large degree, public policy. Legislators vote the views of their constituents.” The foundation is teaming this year with the Greater Houston Partnership, which is the city’s chamber of commerce, in a media campaign utilizing print, radio and television in the Houston market, French says. In 2012, the foundation also will continue its media campaigns throughout the Lone Star State as funding permits. Standing Independent In 2011, the Foundation for Energy Education transitioned away from its formal affiliation with the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, in keeping with the organization’s long-term plan, French says. “We are totally independent now,” he attests. “We have our own board of directors, our own budget, our own fundraising capability, and our own membership. That was always the objective. When you start an organization, you start with nothing and initially rely on assistance. Having the initial help and support from the Texas Alliance was very helpful, but at some point, we have to be able to walk on our own, so to speak, then to run. “We have been at that point for some time now,” he adds. “We are on the verge of moving to an entirely new level.” The foundation also expects its independence to help win additional support from other oil and gas associations, French says. “Being perceived as independent of any association helps to gain the support of other associations,” he says. “We view this as a positive. We always have stressed the importance of getting support from other associations. We hope this will make it more attractive to them to support us in the future.” Attracting support from larger independents has been key, French continues. “It’s been important to show the industry that we have broad-based support, and that includes support from the smallest independents to the largest,” he points out. “By building that broad-based support, we are building a comfort level for companies to provide additional support. The more members we have, the more the companies understand their support will reflect the support given by other companies just like them. When that happens, you develop critical mass. That is the point we are at now.” The election of new board members in November underscores the foundation’s growing appeal, French says. In addition to Bole as chairman, new board members are Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. Chairman Dan O. Dinges and John Hofmeister, retired president of Shell Oil Co. and founder of Citizens for Affordable Energy, which is helping the foundation develop The Hard Question. Foundation Outreach The state of Texas has no checkoff program for oil and gas advocacy, so French says the Foundation for Energy Education relies on annual membership dues–the amount is determined by levels of company revenue–to fund its budget, which totaled $410,000 in 2011. “We have built a membership base of JANUARY 2012 249

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The American Oil and Gas Reporter - January 2012

The American Oil and Gas Reporter - January 2012
Oil & Gas Counts
State Legislative
Industry Digest
Tech Connections
Washington Watch
Federal Legislation
Gulf of Mexico
Resource Plays Providing Wealth of Opportunities
Tight Plays Poised to Transform U.S. Crude Supply
El Paso Project Optimizes Eagle Ford Completion Design
Real-Time Forward Modeling Improves Bakken Horizontals
Cover Story
Financial Firms Expand Oil and Gas Divisions
Multicomponent 3-D Poised for Growth in Shale Plays
Cloud Computing Driving Business Step Changes
Advanced Attributes Improve 3-D Interpretation
3-D Data Improve Knowledge of Shale Heterogeneity
HBUR RSS Solves Granite Wash Drilling Challenges
Technologies Improve Production Consistency in Resource Plays
SaaS Helps Operator Streamline Data Management
Automation Enhances Operations in Challenging Applications
Dispersant Chemistry Combats Plugging in Low-Gravity Oil Wells
New Technologies Optimize Production
Drilling Regs
The Presidential Papers
Energy Education
Shale Gas
New Lits & Products
Computer Currents
Industry Focus
Classified Advertising
Advertisers Index

The American Oil and Gas Reporter - January 2012