Lord Chris Smith and the Task Force on Shale Gas have still not responded to our letter (sent 17th March 2015) [1] regarding our Frackademics report [2] and their involvement with Edelman PR.  This week, activists took direct action at Edelman’s London offices to highlight the PR company’s tactics used to promote fracking, which recent studies have linked to birth defects [3].

Two people posing as a married couple entered the Edelman building and delivered the UK’s first fracked baby.   A study by researchers from the Center for Environmental Health (New York), Institute for Health and the Environment (New York) and University of Missouri in December [4] reveals that living near fracking sites can increase the risk of some birth defects by as much as 30%, but 64% of England is currently under license block consideration [5].

The Task Force on Shale Gas is headed by ex-Environment Agency chief Lord Chris Smith and is funded by oil and gas companies including Centrica, Total and Cuadrilla Resources, who holds at least ten fracking licences in the UK. [6]

Reclaim the Power [7] campaigners have accused Edelman of manufacturing the Task Force on Shale as part of the fracking industry’s attempt to fool the public into believing that the controversial technology is safe. Edelman have a history of creating controversy around an issue to confuse the public. This was revealed in leaked documents last August which exposed their plans to employ 35,000 false supporters to undermine resistance to the Trans-Canada pipeline. [8]

Meanwhile, an alarming new study from researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that babies of mothers who lived near Marcellus shale gas wells in Pennsylvania had lower birth weights than those born from mothers farther from wells. [9]

This week, in its study of ‘Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas and Its Potential Impact on Drinking Water Resources’, the United States Environmental Protection Agency announced fracking does pollute drinking water. [10]

Eathworks Policy Director Lauren Pagel said the EPA has “confirmed what communities living with fracking have known for years, fracking pollutes drinking water”. She added, “Now the Obama administration, Congress, and state governments must act on that information to protect our drinking water, and stop perpetuating the oil and gas industry’s myth that fracking is safe.”[11]

The EPA’s conclusions were based on new case studies and found several contamination pathways and vulnerabilities, including well failures and blowouts, toxic surface spills to ground and surface water, and inadequately treated wastewater.

Mounting evidence points to the harmful impacts of fracking both to our health and to the environment, but you can rely on the Task Force on Shale Gas to continue misleading the British public using industry funded reports which claim that these serious risks can all be mitigated with the right regulations. The truth is that no amount of regulations have protected people from this dangerous technology anywhere in the world.  The Task Force on Shale Gas claims to be an impartial body but with Edelman at the helm, it’s clear that Chris Smith and his colleagues are wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Talk Fracking

[1] http://www.talkfracking.org/frackademics/letter-chris-smith/

[2] http://www.talkfracking.org/frackademics/frackademics-report/

[3] http://www.talkfracking.org/news/research-reveals-links-between-fracking-and-birth-defects/

[4] http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/reveh.2014.29.issue-4/reveh-2014-0057/reveh-2014-0057.xml?format=INT

[5] https://www.gov.uk/oil-and-gas-onshore-maps-and-gis-shapefiles#th-onshore-round

[6] https://www.taskforceonshalegas.uk/funding

[7] http://www.reclaimthepower.org.uk

[8] https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1363082-tc-energy-east-grassroots-advocacy.html#document/p3/a187491

[9] http://www.alleghenyfront.org/story/study-finds-babies-near-fracking-sites-had-lower-birth-weight

[10] http://www2.epa.gov/hfstudy

[11] http://www.earthworksaction.org/media/detail/EPA_study_reveals_fracking_pollutes_water110#.VXMEglxi5D4