“Frackademics” – Letter to Matthew Hancock MP, Department for Energy and Climate Change

Dear Matthew Hancock MP,

Thank you for your response. On the whole, your answers rely on the findings of the Royal Society’s ‘Shale gas extraction’ report (2012), Public Health England’s ‘Review of potential public health impacts from shale gas extraction’ (2014) and David MacKay and Tim Stone’s ‘Potential greenhouse gas emissions associated with shale gas production and use’ 2013; all of which we have carefully considered. Please refer to our latest report, which analyses the relationships between academia, government departments, PR companies and the fossil fuel industry, and it undermines the foundations of those reports on which you rely.

In the case of the MacKay-Stone report, which the DECC commissioned, the method of calculation was correct. However, they used a figure for the emissions from gas production that may only be half the amountit should be. This was divided by a figure for gas production that was twice as big as it should be. The result was that they produced an estimate for emissions that was one quarter of what it should have been. More representative data would have produced a very different result from that which your department and industry figures promoted as ‘fact’ to the public.

This keystone report (Mackay-Stone) is no longer credible and it’s imperative that your department investigates both the findings in our report surrounding the input data and answers how the Mackay-Stone report was accepted in the first instance, without validating the figures used.

Our report also highlights the unhealthy relationships that exist between your government department and the Science Media Centre that you are part funding. Does it come as any surprise that the SMC is providing quotes from academics, most of whom represent a biased viewpoint, which ignores the whole body of evidence available on this issue from the USA, Australia and Canada?

Remember that the UK has a legal obligation to meet carbon reduction targets, and it would be completely irresponsible to continue to rely on the findings of the Mackay-Stone report without a transparent investigational study of the input data.

Our report illustrates the dangers of the close relationships between academics, policy makers and the industry, and how this can seriously damage public confidence in the credibility of science and trust in politicians, which is now under question.

We look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Talk Fracking