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Asked About Fracking, Ban Ki-moon Says Gas Is Good, Silent on Tear Gas

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 19 -- When asked about fracking on Friday, the response of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon ignored the impacts on drinking water and instead said that "natural gas had an important role to play as we transition to lower-carbon sources."

The question by Inner City Press came in the context of Canadian authorities arresting and pepper spraying members of the Elsipogtog First Nation as they protested fracking. From the UN's online transcript* of its October 18 noon briefing, to which it appended Ban's answer before sending the answer to Inner City Press:

Inner City Press: the Elsipogtog First Nation in Canada yesterday were arrested and pepper-sprayed as they protested fracking or shale gas extraction near their land. So, I wanted to know if the Secretariat is aware of this, if there is any comment on Canada's response. I also wanted to know, the Secretary-General, since he is big in this field of green energy and various kinds of energy, does he have any view of this fracking which many environmental and other activists say is destructive, trying to get the last rinds out of the earth in terms of hydrocarbons?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: Well, first of all, we are obviously aware of the reports from Canada, but I donít have any comment on that at the moment. And with regard to the broader question of fracking, I will have to have to look and see what I can tell you on that, but I donít have anything at the moment, okay.

  If Ban's Spokesperson's office gets an answer in the hours after the noon briefing, they have been asked to e-mail it to the questioner, for use in the reporting the question was asked for.

  But often Nesirky's office chooses to withhold answers to Inner City Press' questions until they can be given to all at once, put in the transcript or sometimes even given to other media, not Inner City Press, before that. The Free UN Coalition for Access @FUNCA_info protests this practice, as applies to all correspondents. But it continues. After 8 pm on October 18, this arrived:

From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Fri, Oct 18, 2013 at 8:05 PM
Subject: Question
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

This was added to today's transcript after your question on fracking:

[The Spokesperson later said that natural gas had an important role to play as we transition to lower-carbon sources but that we must be aware that it cannot meet all our needs. He added that we must ensure that development of gas resources should go hand in hand with promoting clean energy solutions.]

  So that's Ban Ki-moon's answer on and understanding of fracking? It'd be like asking about animal cruelty in the industrial production of poultry, and Ban saying, chicken is good, but so are other future foods.

  Ban heads to Denmark on October 21 to discuss green energy -- with institutional investors. Is this what the UN has become?

* - At the most petty level, the noon briefing transcript above has had to be "cleaned up" -- at the order of the Spokesperson's Office, a particular staffer sent to transcribe it leaves in and even adds "uh, uh, uh" and stutters to the UN's (mis) transcription of critical Press questions asked.

   It is pathetic. Compare UN transcript to UN video, for each questioner. We'll have more on this. Watch this site.


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