When the energy industry publishes a coloring book, there is no crayon needed to see the shades of gray. Exhibit A: "Talisman Terry's Energy Adventure," a handout for children published by Talisman Energy that explains the natural gas industry with the help of a "friendly Fracosaurus" dinosaur named Terry.
Everyone smiles in Terry's world. Mom smiles, Dad smiles, the worker smiles, the dog smiles, the cat smiles, the deer smiles, the fish smiles, the sun smiles, the moon smiles, the flower smiles, the rock smiles. Even the helium balloon -- used to demonstrate how "natural gas is lighter than air" -- smiles.
The coloring book's overt message -- drilling is smart, safe and American -- is delivered in kid-friendly fashion, glossing over the environmental and economic controversies that have surrounded drillers tapping the Marcellus Shale rock formation for lucrative pockets of gas.
And like other early education efforts by the energy industry, the coloring book is called harmless fun by the industry and dishonest propaganda by critics.
The debate over such materials is expected to hit closer to home in the coming months as a new industry begins introducing itself to Western Pennsylvania's littlest citizens.
Talisman Terry was developed at Talisman Energy's Calgary headquarters and has been distributed at community picnics in northeastern Pennsylvania counties. It's available free as a PDF on the company's website.
The friendly dinosaur has a counterpart at Chesapeake Energy, named Chesapeake Charlie. Charlie is an orange-tinged beagle whose own coloring book takes youngsters through the entire life cycle of what the Oklahoma City company calls a "clean-burning, affordable, abundant and American fuel."