Nuanced debate? Scientific discussion? Yawn.
FrackFeed, a pro-fracking website from industry groups and oil and gas companies, is targeting millennials in their native tongues: Memes, quizzes and listicles.
Rihanna, Ron Burgundy, bloated toads and angry groundhogs serve as the backdrop for snarky messages extolling the virtues of hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas — without few other details to distract you from kitty gifs.
The website is part of a bigger campaign by North Texans for Natural Gas, an advocacy group that is seeking to drown out the “small but vocal opposition that uses the internet to spread fear and bad information,” according to its website.
The organization says it counts more than 175,000 individual supporters and has the backing of four leading oil and gas producers: Devon Energy, EnerVest, EOG Resources and XTO Energy.
North Texans for Natural Gas first launched FrackFeed in 2015, amid a growing grassroots push by communities in Texas and other states to ban fracking. Many of those local bans were later overturned by state lawmakers or in the courts.
This week, the group launched a spoof campaign video that urges voters to choose “Fracking for President” in the November elections. It also created what it says is probably the first pro-fracking Snapchat filter.
“It’s a presidential year, so we thought we would try to integrate ourselves into that conversation,” Steve Everley, a spokesman for North Texans for Natural Gas, told Mashable.
The real presidential candidates — Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton — have both said they support allowing local bans on fracking, a move that industry groups staunchly oppose.
“Americans across all age groups, but especially younger men and women, are increasingly getting their news from social media,” Everley added.
“Environmental groups recognized this years ago and have been developing their campaigns accordingly. Why can’t the millions of pro-drilling advocates do the same thing?” he said.
The way FrackFeed tells it, fracking is a wholly positive development in the U.S. energy sector, with little cause for concern. On the flip side, some environmentalists tend to cast fracking as a surefire sign of the Apocalypse.
The reality is much more complicated, scientists say.
A slew of studies in recent years have linked fracking-related activities to a handful of problems, including contaminated surface water, air pollution at well sites, man-made earthquakes and leaks of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
But none of these issues have proven to be widespread threats, and scientists say much more research is needed to determine fracking’s long-term effects on the environment and public health.
Everley and his group say such studies are nothing to be concerned about, telling Mashablethey don’t “paint an accurate picture of what’s actually going on.”
Here’s a look at some of FrackFeed’s “memes,” with a fact-checking filter added in.
The U.S. is in fact the world’s top producer of both crude oil and natural gas, in large part thanks to the use of fracking and horizontal drilling across tight shale rock formations in Texas, North Dakota and beyond.
Fracked wells accounted for about of all the crude oil produced in the U.S. in 2015, and about of total U.S. dry natural gas produced in 2014, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
But others don’t tell the whole story, or are irrelevan
The University of Texas at Austin found that about 47 percent of Americans say they are familiar with the use of fracking, according to a January 2016 survey of 2,043 people.
Of those familiar with the practice, 47 percent approve of its use, while 37 percent oppose fracking, the poll found.
But there isn’t a toad meme for another poll, conducted by Gallup, that found more Americans oppose fracking rather than support it.
Around 51 percent of respondents in a March 2016 poll said they opposed fracking, up from just 40 percent in March 2016, Gallup said.
Their opposition is rising amid growing environmental concerns tied to fracking, including anunprecedented spate of earthquakes in states like Oklahoma, caused by injecting drilling wastewater into underground wells.
Just 36 percent of respondents were in favor of fracking in 2016, down from 40 percent a year ago, according to Gallup.