UPDATE: See below for Disney’s response …
Mixing oil with Disney sounds just as feasible as mixing it with water. But the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP) recently teamed up with Radio Disney to do a series of events at elementary schools and science centers across the state to teach kids about fracking.
Quick refresher: Fracking is the process by which thousands of gallons of water and chemicals are injected into deep wells in order to break up rocks that contain natural gas or oil. It’s all the rage in Ohio and elsewhere, and they want the children, who are our future, to know about it.
The series, called Rocking in Ohio, made 26 stops and pissed off a lot of people along the way, according to AJAM. The presentations were led by three Radio Disney staffers from their Cleveland branch, and involved interactive demonstrations of how oil and gas pipelines work. They even threw in a little competition, because they know kids respond to that.
In each of the 26 demonstrations, a Radio Disney DJ named Taylor Bell directed teams of kids as they raced to build pipelines out of plastic straws. The first team to get three ping pong balls through the “pipelines” won the game. The kids were cheered on by Radio Disney employees and teachers as pop music played in the background.
The OOGEEP is funded entirely by oil and gas companies, and Ohio parents and environmentalists are calling their presentations “propaganda.”
“I don’t think it’s doing the children or the state of Ohio any good,” said Robert Shields, the Ohio chapter chair for the Sierra Club. “Kids’ ability to reason is not yet quite established, so it feels to me that they’re getting some kind of propaganda.”
A representative of OEGEEP did creepily admit that they are targeting children.
“Our country cannot survive without oil and gas,” OOGEEP’s Ron Grosjean told the Wooster, Ohio, Daily Record. “Kids are the best way (to spread the message). They retain (the information); they remember it.”
OEGEEP also points out that they never use the term “fracking” in their presentations. But if it looks like fracking, and it smells like fracking …
As is with any matter of public outrage, people have taken to the internet to vent their frustrations. A petition called “TELL RADIO DISNEY TO STOP PROMOTING OIL AND GAS EXTRACTION TO KIDS” is making the rounds. It’s already received nearly 80,000 signatures.
Good luck with that! We’re pretty sure the only lobby stronger than oil is Disney.
Here’s some footage from an event Radio Disney and the OEGEEP held back in August. Nothing teaches kids about oil quite like the musical stylings of Carly Rae Jepsen.
UPDATE: Disney has withdrawn from the program.
[via Al Jazeera America]
Disney emailed a statement to Al Jazeera, saying the company has pulled out of the remaining installments of the Rocking Ohio tour.
“The sole intent of the collaboration between Radio Disney and the nonprofit Rocking in Ohio educational initiative was to foster kids’ interest in science and technology. Having been inadvertently drawn into a debate that has no connection with this goal, Radio Disney has decided to withdraw from the few remaining installments of the program,” the statement read.