A program funded by the oil and gas industry and sponsored by Radio Disney has been making its way to Ohio classrooms to teach kids about how pipelines work. Some parents and residents feel that the program, Rocking in Ohio, is propaganda for oil and gas companies to promote fossil fuels to kids.
Radio Disney of Cleveland promoted the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP), which is entirely funded by oil and gas companies, on a 26-stop tour of elementary schools and science centers across Ohio last month, Al Jazeera reports. The purpose of the tour, according to organizers, was to educate children about energy production. In a statement, Disney said the initiative was to “foster kids’ interest in science and technology.”
“Our country cannot survive without oil and gas,” Ron Grosjean, a member of OOGEEP, told The Daily Record. Of the decision to team up with Radio Disney, Grosjean said, “Kids are the best way (to spread the message). They retain (the information); they remember it.”
The executive director of OOGEEP told The Daily Record that the program was a good way to get kids interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. “It’s a way to make education fun,” she said.
Activities of the program included team-based challenges like building a pipeline out of tubing and using balls to represent how oil and gas reach the home. The first team to get the balls through the “pipeline” was the winner. Kids were encouraged to cheer and be competitive, and were urged on by staffers while pop music played in the background.
“It’s troubling in the first place that they’re going into elementary schools, and it’s even more troubling that Disney is getting involved,” Alison Auciello, an organizer with Food and Water Watch Ohio told Al Jazeera. “They’re not giving a balanced education on (oil and gas).”
OOGEEP told the Ohio media that the word “fracking” is never used in their children’s program.
Although Radio Disney said it would take the tour to other states if the program was successful, the company issued a statement to Al Jazeera on Thursday saying it had “decided to withdraw from the few remaining installments of the program.”
Many residents have expressed their distaste for the program by taking to the internet. One petition on Credo Mobilize, “Tell Radio Disney to Stop Promoting Oil and Gas Extraction to Kids,” currently has over 83,000 signatures.
Fracking practices have expanded in Ohio due to the abundance of the Marcellus Shale. Research reveals that fracking was the cause of earthquakes in Youngstown, Ohio, a town that had never experienced a quake before January 2011.
In December 2010, a fracking wastewater injection well located in an industrial district of Youngstown was used to pump wastewater from fracking operations in Pennsylvania deep underground for storage. During the following year, Youngstown experienced 109 quakes, which researchers linked to the injection well.
Alisha is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. You can follow her on Twitter @childoftheearth.