NYT quotes Gulf of Mexico Foundation head without noting group's ties to oil industry and rig at center of Gulf Coast disaster

Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

About half way through a piece in today's New York Times titled "Gulf Oil Spill Is Bad, but How Bad?" reporters John M. Broder and Tom Zeller, Jr. turn to the executive director of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation (GMF) for comment:

"The sky is not falling," said Quenton R. Dokken, a marine biologist and the executive director of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, a conservation group in Corpus Christi, Tex. "We've certainly stepped in a hole and we're going to have to work ourselves out of it, but it isn't the end of the Gulf of Mexico."

The Times is sure to make note that Dokken is a "marine biologist" but what the paper didn't note is that the organization he leads has close ties not only to the oil and gas industry but to the very rig at the center of the ongoing Gulf Coast disaster.

As Newsweek's Daniel Stone notes on The Gaggle blog (emphasis added):

The piece quotes a fellow named Quenton R. Dokken, identified as a "marine biologist" and head of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, described as a conservation group. Except that describing the Gulf of Mexico Foundation as a conservation group would be like describing Focus on the Family as a pro-choice organization.

Earlier this afternoon, ProPublica offered even more detail (again, emphasis added):

At least half of the 19 members of the group's board of directors [5] have direct ties to the offshore drilling industry. One of them is currently an executive at Transocean, the company that owns the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded last month, causing millions of gallons of oil to spill into the Gulf of Mexico.

Seven other board members are currently employed at oil companies, or at companies that provide products and services "primarily" to the offshore oil and gas industry. Those companies include Shell, Conoco Phillips, LLOG Exploration Company, Devon Energy, Anadarko Petroleum Company and Oceaneering International.

The Gulf of Mexico Foundation's president is a retired senior vice president of Rowan Companies Inc., an offshore drilling contractor.

Meanwhile, Transocean hosted the group's winter board meeting in January and sponsored a dinner for the board of directors. Past board meetings have been hosted in full or in part by Anadarko Petroleum Company, Shell Exploration and Production, Valero Refinery and Marathon Oil Corporation.

In an update to its original story, ProPublica's Marian Wang quotes the Times' Zeller claiming "space constraints" were at least partially to blame even though it was "probably always better to err on the side of full disclosure."

Disturbingly, Zeller essentially dismissed concerns about the GMF's industry ties and never addressed the chilling fact that the group has ties to the very company that owns the "rig that exploded last month, causing millions of gallons of oil to spill into the Gulf of Mexico" as ProPublica put it in its initial story.

Posted In
Environment & Science, Drilling
The New York Times
John M. Broder, Tom Zeller, Jr.
Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill
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