172 organisations and residents’ community groups have signed Talk Fracking’s open letter calling the Task Force on Shale Gas a PR stunt to push through Fracking undemocratically. In an open letter, here is what they said:

Come Clean Chris: The Task Force on Shale Gas Cannot be Trusted

In January, before the close of the last parliament, in their report on the ‘Environmental Risks of Fracking’, the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee recommended that: “The Government must fully engage with the work of the Task Force [on Shale Gas] on the climate change and environmental risks, and await its findings before proceeding further with fracking in the UK. [1]Matthew Hancock MP from the Department of Energy and Climate Change responded saying, “the Task Force is well placed to consider these issues and we look forward to its findings with interest.” [2]

We believe the Government should discount the findings of the Task Force on Shale Gas, setup by Edelman PR, and consider its reports nothing more than untrustworthy propaganda. It’s findings cannot be considered as ‘independent’ because they are funded by an oil and gas industry that cannot be trusted to produce impartial studies whilst they clearly have vested interests in fracking. Companies that fund the Task Force on Shale Gas include Cuadrilla Resources, Centrica and Total. [3] Furthermore, they have not recruited anybody to represent the public point of view.

The Task Force on Shale Gas is an ‘astroturf’ PR exercise. Edelman, the notorious fossil fuel PR company and strategist, are acting as the Task Force’s secretariat and its no coincidence that they were previously undertaking this role for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Unconventional Gas and Oil. Edelman’s clients have until very recently included the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s primary lobbying group.

Edelman is notorious for creating controversy to deceive the public. Last year, Greenpeace published leaked documents proving Edelman had plotted to sway public opinion over the Trans Canada tar sands pipeline by orchestrating an on-line campaign using 35,000 recruited ‘activists’, including their employees, to undermine resistance. [4]

The Task Force on Shale Gas, masterminded by Edelman PR, assumes that fracking can be made safe with the right level of regulation but there is no evidence to support this. Where is the evidence to prove that any level of fracking regulations has made this dangerous technology safe, anywhere in the world? This report is an attempt to reinforce the oil and gas industry’s long-running rhetoric that the damage done by fracking overseas can be mitigated here in the UK should we employ “gold standard regulations” that will somehow make safe an inherently risky, dirty, dangerous practice. Where is the evidence?

In January, an analysis of Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry over a 4-year period, by the ‘Environment America Research and Policy Center’, revealed a range of oil and gas companies, from Fortune 500 companies to small operators, struggle to meet even modest regulations —averaging more than one environmental violation every day. [5] The fracking industry is infamous for its idle approach to health and safety – only interested in cutting costs and prone to violating rules intended to protect human health and the environment.

With Edelman behind the Task Force on Shale Gas, PR tactics developed in the sixties to dismiss smoking health concerns are now being used in relation to fracking. Even the government’s own report on the impact of fracking on rural economies warns of serious dangers to health, the environment and the economy. [6] When you weigh up the desperately overhyped benefits against the risks, the economics of fracking just don’t stand up and the Task Force on Shale Gas will not persuade us otherwise.

At the time of the Environmental Audit Committee’s report on the impacts of fracking, it was not known that the Task Force on Shale Gas was a PR exercise for the fracking industry, produced by the notorious Edelman PR group. The Task Force on Shale Gas should not be taken seriously – it’s a complete farce.

SIGNED BY THE FOLLOWING BRITISH CAMPAIGN GROUPS / ORGANISATIONS:

350.ORG, 38 DEGREES, BIFF! BRITAIN & IRELAND FRACK FREE, CAMPAIGN AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE, CLIMATE REVOLUTION, FRACK FREE FAMILIES, FRACK OFF, FRACK OFF SCOTLAND, FRACKING HELL, GLOBAL JUSTICE NOW, GREENPEACE UK, MOTHERS AGAINST FRACKING, PCS UNION, PEOPLE & PLANET, RECLAIM THE POWER, REFRACKTION, SCOTLAND AGAINST FRACKING, THE ECOLOGIST AND THE GAIA FOUNDATION

ALSO SIGNED BY THE FOLLOWING RESIDENTS’ COMMUNITY GROUPS: 

ABUNDANT HEALTH: COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS, AFAN NEDD COMMUNITIES AGAINST FRACKING, BARTON MOSS AND BEYOND, BARTON MOSS ANTI FRACKING COMMUNITY PROTECTION CAMP, BASSETLAW AGAINST FRACKING, BATH AND SURROUNDING AREA AGAINST FRACKING, BATTLE FOR CRAWBERRY HILL, BELCOO FRACK FREE, BERWICK UPON TWEED CONSTITUENCY GREEN PARTY, BLYTH VALLEY GREEN PARTY, BOLTON AGAINST FRACKING, BORE FREE EASTRY, BORRAS AND HOLT COMMUNITY PROTECTION CAMP, BRIGHTON ACTION AGAINST FRACKING, CANONBIE & DISTRICT RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION, CLACKS AGAINST UNCONVENTIONAL GAS EXTRACTION, CLEAR BUCKHAVEN, COMMUNITIES OF HOLDERNESS AGAINST ON-SHORE DRILLING, CONCERNED COMMUNITIES OF FALKIRK (CCOF), DEFEND LYTHAM, DON’T FRACK THE BRIGGS, DORSET CONSERVATION GROUP (BRITISH HERPETOLOGICAL SOCIETY), EAST KENT AGAINST FRACKING (EKAF), ELLESMERE PORT FRACK FREE, FERMANAGH FRACKING AWARENESS NETWORK, FLEETWOOD FOLK SAY NO FRACKING, FRACK FREE ARUN, FRACK FREE BLACKPOOL, FRACK FREE CALDER VALE, FRACK FREE CALDERDALE, FRACK FREE CHORLEY & SOUTH RIBBLE, FRACK FREE CHORLTON, FRACK FREE CLEVELAND, FRACK FREE CRAVEN, FRACK FREE DEE, FRACK FREE DEVON, FRACK FREE DORSET, FRACK FREE DUDLESTON, FRACK FREE EAST YORKSHIRE, FRACK FREE ESSEX, FRACK FREE FARNDON, FRACK FREE FERNHURST, FRACK FREE FIVE VALLEYS, FRACK FREE FRECKLETON, FRACK FREE FUTURE (FOREST ROW), FRACK FREE FYLDE, FRACK FREE GREAT EDSTONE, FRACK FREE GREATER MANCHESTER, FRACK FREE HARROGATE AND KNARESBOROUGH, FRACK FREE HARTLEPOOL, FRACK FREE HELMSLEY, FRACK FREE HORSHAM & DISTRICT, FRACK FREE HOVINGHAM, FRACK FREE INCE, ELTON, HELSBY, FRODSHAM AND THORNTON LE MOORS, FRACK FREE INSKIP, FRACK FREE ISLE OF AXHOLME, FRACK FREE ISLE OF WIGHT, FRACK FREE KIRBY MISPERTON, FRACK FREE KIRKBYMOORSIDE, FRACK FREE KIRKHAM AND WESHAM, FRACK FREE KIRTON IN LINDSEY, FRACK FREE LANCASHIRE, FRACK FREE LIVERPOOL, FRACK FREE MALPAS, FRACK FREE MALTON & NORTON, FRACK FREE MARKSWELL WOODS, FRACK FREE MICKLE TRAFFORD, FRACK FREE NORTH YORKSHIRE, FRACK FREE NORTHUMBERLAND, FRACK FREE NOTTINGHAMSHIRE, FRACK FREE RYEDALE, FRACK FREE SALFORD & MANCHESTER, FRACK FREE SANDWICH, FRACK FREE SCARBOROUGH, FRACK FREE SCARBOROUGH, FRACK FREE SOLENT, FRACK FREE SOMERSET, FRACK FREE SOUTH YORKSHIRE, FRACK FREE SUSSEX, FRACK FREE TADCASTER, FRACK FREE TAMESIDE, FRACK FREE UPTON, FRACK FREE WALES, FRACK FREE WEST MIDLANDS, FRACK FREE WEST WALES, FRACK FREE WREXHAM, FRACK FREE YEOVIL, FRACK FREE YORK, FRACK OFF FIFE , FRACK OFF GLASGOW, FRACK OFF LLANELLI, FRACK OFF WEST LOTHIAN, FRACKING INFORMATION GROUP SHERIFF HUTTON, FRANKING FREE CLARE, GARSTANG AGAINST FRACKING, GAS FIELD FREE MENDIP, H.U.G.E CUMBERNAULD AND SURROUNDS HALT UNCONVENTIONAL GAS EXTRACTION, HALSALL AGAINST FRACKING, HEY FRACK OFF (HULL & EAST YORKSHIRE), HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS AGAINST FRACKING, HIGHLANDS SIERRA CLUB GROUP, HOOE PARISH COUNCIL, HORSE HILL PROTECTION GROUP, IRLAM AND CADISHEAD FRACK FREE, ISLE OF MAN FOR A FRACK FREE IRISH SEA, KEEP BILLINGSHURST FRACK FREE, KEEP EAST LANCASHIRE FRACK FREE, KEEP EAST LANCASHIRE FRACK FREE, KEEP WILTSHIRE FRACK FREE, KEEP YOUR FRACKING HANDS OFF NEATH PORT TALBOT, KNITTING NANAS BALCOMBE, LEICESTERSHIRE AGAINST ONSHORE DRILLING, LEWES AGAINST FRACKING, LLANHARAN AGAINST FRACKING, LONGRIDGE AGAINST FRACKING, MARKINCH ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION GROUP, MISSON COMMUNITY ACTION GROUP, N.E.WALES ANTI-FRACKING ACTION NETWORK, NEWCASTLE GREEN PARTY, NO FRACKING NORTHERN IRELAND, NORTH EAST ENGLAND GREEN PARTY, NORTH LANARKSHIRE AGAINST UNCONVENTIONAL GAS, NUNE (NO UNDERGROUND COAL GASIFICATION NORTH EAST), OUR FORTH – PORTOBELLO (AGAINST UNCONVENTIONAL GAS), PRESTON FRACK OFF, PRESTON NEW ROAD ACTION GROUP, PROTECT OUR NORTH COAST, PROTECT OUR PURBECK, PULBOROUGH & WEST CHILTINGTON, RESIDENTS AGAINST FYLDE FRACKING, RIBBLE ESTUARY AGAINST FRACKING, RIBCHESTER AGAINST FRACKING, ROSEACRE AWARENESS GROUP, SAY NO TO FRACKING ON BARTON MOSS, SCOTS REUNITE AGAINST FRACKING, SCOTTISH PAGANS AGAINST FRACKING, SEAHAM ACTION GROUP, SELBY IN SOLIDARITY, SNITTERFIELD ACTIONING CLIMATE CHANGE, SOUTH LANARKSHIRE AGAINST UNCONVENTIONAL GAS, SOUTH TYNESIDE GREEN PARTY, ST HELENS YOUNG GREENS, STOP FRACKING IN SOMERSET, SUNDERLAND GREEN PARTY, SUSSEX HAMPSHIRE AWARENESS FRACKING TRUSTED, THE LANCASHIRE NANAS (NANASHIRE), TUFF THORNTON UNITES AGAINST FYLDE FRACKING, WEALDEN AGAINST FRACKING, WEALDEN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION, WHITSTABLE AGAINST FRACKING, WIRRAL AGAINST FRACKING, WORTHING AGAINST FRACKING, WREXHAM BRANCH OF PLAID CYMRU

THIS STATEMENT WAS ALSO SIGNED IN SOLIDARITY BY THE FOLLOWING GROUPS BASED IN THE US, IRELAND AND FRANCE:

FRACK FREE GASCON (FRANCE), GREEN PARTY OF RHODE ISLAND (USA), KEEP IRELAND FRACKING FREE, NOT FOR SHALE (IRELAND), SANE ENERGY PROJECT – NEW YORK, SIERRA CLUB ATLANTIC CHAPTER (USA), SIERRA CLUB ROCKY MOUNTAIN CHAPTER (DENVER, COLORADO, USA)

References:

[1] House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee report: “Environmental Risks of Fracking” (January 2015) http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmenvaud/856/85602.htm

[2] DECC: Government Response to the Environmental Audit Committee’s Inquiry into Environmental Risks of Fracking (March 2015):http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/environmental-audit-committee/environmental-risks-of-fracking/written/18683.html

[3] Task Force on Shale Gas – funding https://www.taskforceonshalegas.uk/funding

[4] Greenpeace Canada – Leaked documents regarding Trans Canada http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/recent/Leaked-documents-show-TransCanada-planning-dirty-tricks-campaign-to-support-Energy-East-pipeline/

[5] Environment America Research & Policy Center report: “Fracking Failures: Oil and Gas Industry Environmental Violations in Pennsylvania and What They Mean for the U.S.” (January 2015) http://environmentamerica.org/reports/amc/fracking-failures-oil-and-gas-industry-environmental-violations-pennsylvania-and-what

[6] DEFRA report: “Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts” (March 2014) https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/440791/draft-shale-gas-rural-economy-impact-report.pdf