Sheridan Mom Angry About Cartoons Portraying Oil And Gas Industry As Evil

A Sheridan mother says a cartoon showing an earthquake-causing “fracking well” run by an evil man is a part of a greater problem in media for kids that portrays the oil and gas industry as evil.

July 28, 20236 min read

An evil natural gas producer is in front of a drilling rig in an episode of the animated show "Rainbow Rangers." The show wrongly calls the rig a "fracking well" and focus on a message of how evil fracking and the well's owner are.
An evil natural gas producer is in front of a drilling rig in an episode of the animated show "Rainbow Rangers." The show wrongly calls the rig a "fracking well" and focus on a message of how evil fracking and the well's owner are. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Lyndsey Skatberg has been working in the oil and gas industry for 16 years. She has friends on Twitter who are, like her, parents working in the industry. 

“All we talk about is energy and our lives,” Skatberg told Cowboy State Daily. 

One of the concerned parents in this circle on Twitter posted a clip this week from the Kartoon Channel!’s “Rainbow Rangers.”

It started a conversation about how entertainment and educational content for kids is teaching them that their parents work in an evil industry. 

Fracking Wells

In an episode of the show titled “The Big Dig,” the Rainbow Rangers, a group of girls with colorful hair and a unicorn, are caught in a cave when the entrance collapses because of earthquakes. 

Eventually, the heroes escape the cave and go in search of the cause of the quakes, which turns out to be a “fracking well.”

What’s depicted as a fracking well is actually a drilling rig, but the heroes soon learn that an evil man is running the fracking well to make lots of money. 

The evil owner of the fracking well laughs maniacally as he declares that he loves “the smell of fracking in the morning.”

The Rainbow Rangers finally convince the evil fracking well owner to replace his gas-producing well with a single wind turbine. 

But being the greedy monster he is, the evil man tries to catch the kids in a booby trap he bought with all the money he made from fracking. 

Negative Messaging 

While a cartoon for very young children can be forgiven for some inaccuracies, Skatberg is concerned about the negative messaging toward the oil and gas industry, and the people who work in it. 

“It is becoming very intertwined into, not just education material, but now we're talking about entertainment,” Skatberg said. 

Skatberg lived in Denver for about 15 years, and during the last eight years there she said she had “a little cute house” in the downtown area. 

Living in Colorado, a state that’s been overtly hostile to fossil fuels, Skatberg became a vocal advocate for the oil and gas industry. 

As her daughter was reaching the age that she’d enter the Colorado public school system, Skatberg became concerned her daughter would be taught in school that what her mom does for a living is wrong. 

But there were other reasons she started to think the city might not be the best place to raise a child. 

“When I’m putting my baby in her car seat, and I look down and see a needle, that changes things,” Skatberg said. 

Zero Regrets

“I’ve always loved Wyoming. I started my career working for companies that were developing natural gas in the Powder River Basin,” she said. “I have zero regrets.” 

As a busy mom, Skatberg said she doesn’t always have time to monitor everything her daughter watches. So, she’ll throw on a cartoon while she makes dinner, and she doesn’t always hear everything these cartoons are telling kids about energy. 

“They’re making stuff up, and they’re making it look negative,” she said. 

She said this messaging is becoming pervasive across all media that kids consume. She recently saw a science video for kids in which a woman bakes a pizza with a solar oven. While it would work, she said, it would take hours and be pretty useless unless the sun was shining. 

So, presenting it as a replacement for gas ovens is just wrong, she said. 

Around Christmas, she bought her daughter a Barbie Dream House and a Lego set. Barbie had an electric car charger, and the Lego set had a wind turbine. 

“So, it’s in toys as well,” Skatberg said. 

Factually Incorrect

Skatberg said she’s not opposed to renewable energy, and the presence of it in toys and media isn’t the problem.

It’s that the depictions of the oil and gas industry are factually incorrect, such as portraying “fracking wells” as causing cave-collapsing earthquakes and telling children their parents work in an industry that’s evil. 

“We’re not bad people, but when kids see a cartoon with a bad man running a fracking rig, kids will wonder about their parents who work in the industry,” she said. 

As her daughter grows older, Skatberg said she’ll have a lot more conversations with her about oil and gas. She said there’s nothing wrong with talking about the negative impacts of the industry, but she’ll also want her daughter to have accurate information about those impacts and understand all the benefits that come from oil and gas. 

“How can anyone make that into an evil and bad thing?” Skatberg said. 

She’ll also want to dispel any notions that climate change is going to end the world or make the future unlivable. 

Demonizing Benefits

Rep. Cyrus Western, R-Big Horn, told Cowboy State Daily he wasn’t surprised to hear there’s a cartoon with such an exaggerated depiction of hydraulic fracturing. It’s unfortunate, he said, that so much media for kids is teaching them that oil and gas do nothing but harm people. 

“They power society. They make our way of life affordable,” he said. “It’s clearly just more propaganda trying to demonize something that’s hugely beneficial to society.” 

Western doesn’t have kids, but he said he’ll be communicating the benefits of affordable, reliable energy with his future kids. 

“I’ll want them to understand that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks by a country mile,” he said.

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