Washington DC – About 25 activists descended on NPR's national headquarters in Washington Thursday afternoon to protest the network's corporate Sponsorship from ANGA, a trade association for natural gas drillers (frackers). Protestors chanted, sang, and marched through the courtyard of the building, while a live broadcast was aired on the internet featuring interviews with several participants from the Beyond Extreme Energy week of actions.
"In exchange for an undisclosed sum of money, NPR hosts like Steve Inskeep, Audie Cornish, and Melissa Block routinely read misleading and outright false statements that encourage listeners to “think about” the benefits of fracked gas," explained Drew Hudson of Environmental Action. "Not only are these ads offensive and inappropriate on public radio, they take up valuable air time at a moment that NPR has decided to cut it's energy and environment reporting staff by 80%"
NPR has consistently maintained that the ANGA sponsored messages do not influence coverage. But organizers pointed to numerous examples where other outlets or event their own affiliates had covered stories about fracking, while NPR remained silent.
One immediate example was that all this week, dozens of protesters have been sitting in, speaking out and nearly 100 have even been arrested at the offices of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), just a few blocks from NPR's office. But NPR has been unable to spare a reporter even once to cover the story.
"We are here to tell NPR that this is not acceptable and to show them that radio covering the fracking boom and the climate crisis is engaging, smart, compassionate and essential," added Hudson.
The live radio show was part of a coordinated national action. Earlier in the day, Environmental Action encouraged members to call into their local NPR stations and ask them to express concerns to NPR as well. As of this email, over 407 minutes of conversation between some 200 activists and their local affiliates had been recorded. And in New York, a dozen additional demonstrators picketed outside WNYC in a solidarity event designed to get the largest NPR affiliate in America to pressure NPR to drop the ANGA sponsorship.
"Just as the media have rejected money from the tobacco industry … so should they reject these donations from fossil fuels," Said documentary producer Josh Fox of the Gasland movies in a previous interview.
Thursday's protests were part of a week of action called Beyond Extreme Energy. The action has been endorsed by over 20 organizations, including Environmental Action, and is planned to continue tomorrow morning at FERC. More information about future days activities and the mission of the Beyond Extreme Energy week of actions is available here.
Live updates are posted on the Facebook pages of Environmental Action and CCAN, and using the twitter hashtag #FERCdoesntwork