Oklahoma City News, Entertainment & Occasional Humor • Established 2007

What the Frack! Rolling Stone totally rips Chesapeake Energy, Aubrey McClendon and Fracking

Last week, Rolling Stone released on its website an epic 6,200-word article about Aubrey McClendon, Chesapeake Energy and fracking. The story, which was written by the lefty environmental journalist Jeff Goodell, will appear in the March 15th issue of the magazine.

If the headline (The Big Fracking Bubble: The Scam Behind the Gas Boom) and sub-head (It’s not only toxic – it’s driven by a right-wing billionaire who profits more from flipping land than drilling for gas.) doesn’t give it away, the article is not exactly pro-Chesapeake. It makes the Forbes bankruptcy story from a few weeks ago look like strawberry cheesecake, angel wings and robin eggs.

Just check out the first and last paragraph of the story:

Aubrey McClendon, America’s second-largest producer of natural gas, has never been afraid of a fight. He has become a billionaire by directing his company, Chesapeake Energy, to blast apart gas-soaked rocks a mile underground and pump the fuel to the surface. “We’re the biggest frackers in the world,” he declares proudly over a $400 bottle of French Bordeaux at a restaurant he co-owns in his hometown of Oklahoma City. “We frack all the time. What’s the big deal?”

5,800 words later…

I look at the $400 bottle of wine on the table. Much of what McClendon says is misleading – wind power is as cheap as gas in some places and falling fast, and cutting back on gas doesn’t have to mean burning more coal. But his plan is clear. He’s not going to back off until every last square foot of shale rock in America is drilled and fracked and sucked clean of gas. McClendon may rely on sophisticated new drilling technologies, but at heart, he’s driven by the same dream of endless extraction that has gripped oil barons and coal companies since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. In the end, all his talk of energy independence and a cleaner, brighter future boils down to a single demand, as simple as it is disastrous: Drill, baby, drill.

Wow…and that’s the nice part!

I know liberal environmentalists attack energy companies with the same objectivity and zeal as social conservatives going after Planned Parenthood, but do yourself a favor and go read the entire article. It is a biased piece. I’m pretty sure that Goodell wants you to believe that Aubrey McClendon is Mr. Burns’ nephew and that Chesapeake is as dirty and filthy as your office breakroom’s microwave, but he does bring up some interesting points that you’ll never hear about in the local media.

When you’re finished, head over to Chesapeake’s website and read their official response. It comes across as a little corporate and stale, but they do a decent job addressing and refuting some of Goodell’s claims.

(UPDATE: Chesapeake let us know via Twitter that they have set up a special response page on their website. You can read it here.)

Anyway, here are my thoughts on the whole thing:

• In the past month, both Forbes and Rolling Stone have published articles that warn of bad times ahead for Chesapeake. Just like anyone else in town, the last thing I want is for the company to fail or go bankrupt. They are a huge employer, driver of the economy and supporter of many local non-profits and charities, but (beating dead horse alert) IS IT NOT ABOUT TIME SOMEONE IN THE LOCAL MEDIA LOOKS INTO OR RECOGNIZES THIS!!! !!!  Where there’s smoke there is usually fire, and two national publications on different ends of the political spectrum are sending smoke signals that are visible from sea to shining sea. Or Kevin Costner just burned an elk that he found in the Chesapeake fitness center. One of the two.

• Aubrey…maybe it’s time for you to stop treating magazine reporters to expensive bottles of fancy French wine. I’m sure that’s something that impresses your friends and colleagues at the Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club, but it only pours ridiculously clean, abundant and natural fuel on the fire of cynical journalists who are out to brand you as a greedy, decadent and extremely out-of-touch CEO.

• On that note, I would love to do a profile on Chesapeake Energy and Aubrey McClendon. Unlike these guys with Forbes and Rolling Stone or whatever else, I can be totally be charmed and bought-off. Hell, it doesn’t even need to be a $400 French Bordeaux.  I’m good with some Kendall Jackson or Riunite.

Anyway, what do you all think? Should Chesapeake’s employees and vendors be scared? And what about fans of Christmas lights ? Or is Chesapeake just a target and scapegoat for activist journalists. Let us know in the comments.

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Comments

  1. For someone who doesn’t want them to fail, you sure spend a lot of time deriding them.

    • Really??! Just because we don’t give them a constant handjob like every else in town doesn’t mean we spend a lot of time deriding them. Now get back to analyzing leases.

      • Yeah really. I haven’t noticed any “handjobs” from the press. Care to point them out?

        • Unless you’re new to the area, I really don’t even know where to begin explaining this to you. I feel like I’m trying to help a fellow Sooner fan understand just how “in the pocket” the local media is for Bob Stoops.

    • Sure, because he doesn’t want them to fail. If he wanted them to fail, he wouldn’t call attention to the potentially-catastrophic issues within the company (at least, not until there wasn’t time enough to fix them prior to bankruptcy).
      Or maybe it’s just his way of saying “And Aubrey McClendon is an honorable man.” I don’t know.

    • of course we won’t run out of gas,
      we will run out of clean water to drink because it will all be contaminated!!!!

  2. Chesapeake should pay dividends to Oklahoma. The state gave Aubrey enough money for $400 bottles of wine for every citizen. I am pro free market, but this is wealthfare. Aubrey is the nephew of Robert S Kerr and he knows how to get legislation passed that his corporate lawyers wrote. McClendon donated to both Dems and Repubs, for about a 100K ‘investment’ he can get any thing he wants. He is a bright man but by ‘contributing’ to State parasites, he became a billionaire.

  3. CHK is purchasing all of the rights for miles around here so we love them. we only love $ out west ya know

  4. I think there is a chance their aggressive plays result in a sustainable company long-term. As I think they could also be more like Enron. Unfortunately for okc I’m leaning toward to latter as more likely. Not to mention the environmental concerns I have for fracking which are many.

  5. Who gives a shit if Aubrey’s receiving “bad” press? He got off easy with the lack of coverage over his participation in the Swift Boat campaign. Had anyone outside of the Republican party even attempted to pull a similar stunt on a Republican candidate, the wrath of the right would have reigned down upon these “unpatriotic, anti-Americans.”

  6. Keep up the great work, it’s nice to see what is really going on with them. Reading these articles make me glad I don’t work for Chesapeake.

  7. I think my favorite part of the Chesapeake response was “ask yourself- do I believe Rolling Stone and Arthur Berman or the world’s biggest and most successful energy companies?” Because we all know the worlds biggest and most successful energy companies are completely straightforward, honest and never ever, wrong.

  8. If only there was a strong alternative publication in this town. One with verve and writing acumen. One with a bent toward delving into information the mainstream paper won’t touch.

  9. I can assure you (as a former Devon employee, and friend of many many employees of Chesapeake and other high profile oil & gas companies) that Chesapeake is really good at doing 2 things. Producing natural gas, and covering their asses. Eventually, one of those 2 things will fail. Either one will cause an OKC rattling collapse that will be felt nationwide. It’s not if, but when. Most likely, within the next 2-3 years.

  10. Let’s put it this way (and I agree with Taterballs completely): I’m a CHK shareholder who is over $40 per share in the hole. Aubrey may be one of the worst CEO’s in the F500; it’s a very poorly managed company. I’m also going to give up on both CHK and SD (Sandridge) and sell both to take the massive loss this fiscal year. The CHK response was right out of the GOP talking points and pathetic. If CHK continues to spin-off business units into separate companies and then spread the chk debt and losses across those companies, I could see another Enron coming down the pike.

  11. A couple of weeks ago I was in a wine shop in Nichol’s Hills (sneaked in behind an Escalade). While I was paying for my plonk, a girl walked in and said, “I’m here to pick up the order for the wine tasting at Chesapeake.” The guy at the counter said, “Which one?”

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