Monday, July 18, 2011

Uproar means the end of 'Fracosaurus' coloring booklet
Friday, July 15, 2011

The Fracosaurus is now extinct.

Talisman Terry, the "friendly Fracosaurus" star of a coloring book published by Talisman Energy, will no longer be around to explain the natural gas drilling process to youngsters. The Canadian company announced plans Thursday to stop distribution of the controversial children's book.

"Talisman Terry's Energy Adventure" was a 24-page booklet that explained natural gas drilling in kid-friendly fashion and could be downloaded from the Calgary-based energy company's website. It had been distributed at community fairs in northeastern Pennsylvania since 2009.

As dinosaurs do, Terry is going out with a bang. Everyone from a Massachusetts congressman to a Comedy Central star has taken aim at the Fracosaurus wearing a hard hat and a smile.

Talisman Terry's stance was overt and unapologetic: Drilling for natural gas in formations such as the Marcellus Shale is smart, safe and American.

In the coloring book, the same plot of land didn't look much different in "Before Drilling" and "After Drilling" illustrations. If anything, the "after" image seemed more pastoral: New trees had been planted; a bald eagle soared over the hill; a rainbow appeared.

The Post-Gazette reported on the coloring book last month, and the book's rosy view of the controversial industry was lambasted by critics as dishonest propaganda.

While Talisman Energy's 2010 record of 145 violations by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection was cited by critics, the children's coloring book brought more attention and the company felt it distracted from the business at hand.

"We're going to take our company's focus to where it should be," said Natalie Cox, spokeswoman for Talisman Energy USA. "It's received much more attention than a children's book ever should. It was just a lollipop for kids."

Since the unexpected publicity, Ms. Cox said the company has received requests for copies from school teachers and even from a man who lives in France, a country that has banned the hydraulic fracturing extraction process Terry helps explain. The company has not tracked how many copies of the book were printed.

The halt of the coloring book's distribution caps an eventful week for Terry.

Last Friday, U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., referenced the Fracosaurus in prepared remarks critical of the natural gas industry's environmental record.

"The lovable dinosaur playfully promotes the benefits of natural gas and paints a picture of a magical world filled with smiling rocks and grinning animals," said Mr. Markey. "The problem is that unless you are a 'FRACK-A-SAURUS' named 'Talisman Terry,' this world doesn't exist."

And on Monday, Terry was treated to a vicious lampooning by comedian Stephen Colbert on cable channel Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report." Mr. Colbert presented doctored pages that he said had gone missing from the book, the last of which showed a depressed Terry lighting himself on fire in the shower.

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