The anti-fracking movement in New York state started with a series of ProPublica articles published in the Albany Times Union in 2008, according to a report revealed by Wikileaks.
That revelation came as part of a trove of files Wikileaks unearthed from Stratfor, an Austin-based global intelligence company. Stratfor was hired by oil and gas companies, as well as many other global corporations to investigate and profile activist groups and media organizations. One of its targets was the Pulitzer Prize-winning ProPublica, the nonprofit that distributes its investigative content to news organizations for free, including the Times Union. The report detailed the risks of drilling in the Marcellus Shale, which is the rock formation containing natural gas spread underneath the state’s Southern Tier.
The report concluded: “The growth of the Marcellus shale was largely not a controversial issue until mid-2008, when ProPublica stories given to the Albany, New York Times Union (and reprinted elsewhere) detailed researcher and activist reports of potential water contamination and carried the message that, according to ProPublica’s editor in chief, New York was about to ‘put legislative and regulatory protocols into place to give the industry carte blanche to drill wherever it chose.’ Out of this series of articles came the backlash by local groups and delays that continue to beset operations in the region.”
In 2009, Stratfor investigators provided a report to the American Petroleum Institute, which spent $503,903 on lobbying and activities including educational outreach in the first half of this year, that pinpointed growing environmental activism in the state. The group also produced a report detailing the early growth of anti-fracking groups in the state for ExxonMobil, which spent $2 million to promote fracking in New York in 2012.