Tag Archives: enviroment

At Last, Greenpeace Admits to ‘Rhetorical Hyperbole’ i.e lying #fakefacts

In the UK we get fed up of the terminological inexact reports and campaigns of Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. In Canada GP come out with the exquisite euphemism

heated rhetoric is the coin of the realm.

Less delicately that would be “bloody lies”


But we have the same in Britain over fracking and possibly over bees.



And, of course, this is what Friends of the Earth were doing with this leaflet



It seems that the same thing is happening in North America  and here is an article about Greenpeace at it in the National Review, who would probably regard me as a pinko.


by RICHARD GARNEAU March 2, 2017 4:00 AM A company unfairly attacked by the environmental group has sued it. A few years ago Greenpeace and allied groups chose my company, Resolute, Canada’s largest forest-products company, to be their next victim. They compiled a litany of outlandish assertions: We were “forest destroyers,” for example, aggravating climate change, and causing a “caribou death spiral and extinction” in Canada’s boreal habitat. Greenpeace harassed companies we do business with, threatening them with the same sort of smear campaign that they launched against us and even instigating cyber-attacks on their websites. And they bragged about the damage — $100 million, in Canadian dollars — that they claimed to have inflicted on our business. They were lying about our forestry practices, so we did something that none of the group’s other targets have yet found the wherewithal to do: We sued them, in Canada, for defamation and intentional interference with economic relations, and in the United States under RICO statutes. A funny thing happened when Greenpeace and allies were forced to account for their claims in court. They started changing their tune.


Their condemnations of our forestry practices “do not hew to strict literalism or scientific precision,” as they concede in their latest legal filings. Their accusations against Resolute were instead “hyperbole,” “heated rhetoric,” and “non-verifiable statements of subjective opinion” that should not be taken “literally” or expose them to any legal liability. These are sober admissions after years of irresponsible attacks.   No “forest loss” was caused by Resolute, the groups concede — now that they are being held accountable. Of course, these late admissions are consistent with the findings of just about every independent journalist and commentator who has covered the dispute, from the Wall Street Journal editorial board to Enquête, a Canadian version, roughly, of 60 Minutes. Even Steve Forbes weighed in, calling our lawsuit “an outstanding example of how unfairly attacked companies should respond.” Peter Reich, one of the world’s leading forest ecologists, has said that Greenpeace has “a fundamental disregard for scientific reality.” RELATED: In a ‘Post-Truth’ Era, Greenpeace Lies to Raise Money Finally hearing the truth from Greenpeace itself is vindication, even if it comes in the form of a tortured defense of its actions, rather than a simple apology. Remarkably, despite admitting in court that its rhetoric against Resolute is not true, Greenpeace continues to disparage us publicly and privately. Just a few weeks ago, we sent it a cease-and-desist letter demanding that it stop sending to our customers threatening letters accusing us of the “destruction of forests in Quebec and Ontario.” Some news outlets in the United States have filed amicus briefs on behalf of Greenpeace, on free-speech grounds. But freedom of speech is not the same as libel and slander. And the public should ask the outlets when it can expect scrutinizing, critical coverage of what Greenpeace itself now admits are deceptive practices. More than a billion trees. That’s how many Resolute’s workers have planted in Ontario’s boreal forest, in addition to the hundreds of millions that workers have planted in Quebec. Yet for years now, the eco-provocateurs at Greenpeace have been raising money off the calculated mistruths that we are somehow “responsible for the destruction of vast areas of forest.”   Greenpeace is marauding not just our company but a way of life, one built on nurturing healthy forests that are the lifeblood of the people who live there. So far they have acted with virtual impunity and profited handsomely. One Greenpeace executive was even caught laughing on camera when he was confronted on a leading broadcast program with photos of a forest, affected by a wildfire, that the group erroneously said was “destroyed” by Resolute. It was morally wrong and yet another example that, as Greenpeace puts it, “heated rhetoric is the coin of the realm.” For me, confronting this barrage of misinformation has been more than just about business ethics. It is very personal. I was raised in Quebec’s Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region, where my family has lived for generations. I harvested trees by hand to pay my way through school. Now 50 years later, those forest areas are again ready for harvest, and someday I will retire to this same land that my great-grandfather tilled. Greenpeace is marauding not just our company but a way of life, one built on nurturing healthy forests that are the lifeblood of the people who live there. That’s why union leaders, small-business people, First Nations chiefs, and mayors and other government officials, of all political stripes, have written Greenpeace, imploring it to halt its campaign of misinformation. In nearly every instance, Greenpeace lacked the simple decency to respond, apparently indifferent to the human consequences of its actions. Last summer, nearly 5,000 people marched through the streets of the small northern Quebec town of Saint-Félicien, demanding an end to Greenpeace’s disingenuous market campaign. Recognizing that the very viability of their communities are now held in the balance, local leaders have even “extended a hand” for eco-activists to have a dialogue with them. It is telling that Greenpeace neither showed up nor responded. As a chief executive, I often meet and engage personally with our devoted employees at the local level, in the forests where they live and work. I know we share a common interest and a responsibility to sustain the forests for tomorrow. That’s why we’re not going to let Greenpeace get away with using “rhetorical hyperbole” to make false and damaging accusations from hundreds and thousands of miles away, in its glass-walled towers in Amsterdam, Hamburg, and Washington, D.C.  We’re going to stand tall, both in public discourse and in the courts. For my part, my guiding hope is to return to the forest with the ability to face my neighbors, my family, and my community and tell them that I stood up and told the truth. — Richard Garneau is the president and CEO of Resolute Forest Products.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/445373/greenpeace-environmental-groups-sued-resolute-forest-products-ontario-quebec


We hear much about fake news at present and how it influenced both the Brexit vote and the Presidential election.

Fake news is prevalent and is common both among climate change deniers (the extreme one) and what Owen Pattison in his only wise comment on the environment called the Green Blob. Fake News is rife among ideological Greens, especially Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth , anti-fracking groups and all the KIITG (Keep it in the ground) palaver. As a Christian it offends me that it has become the quasi-official view of Christian greens. much of whose stuff is fakenews. (They are good on tips for green living – but some of us have been doing that for decades, OK on local projects, but on big issues like energy, fracking and climate change they go fake.)

As Ken who puts in detailed complaints to the ASA on anti-fracking groups says “I do not know of any valid science in the anti frack rhetoric. Bullshit from start to finish, as I have shown with Frack Free Somerset, RAFF, Frack Free Alliance. Breast Cancer UK, and perhaps with FoE.” several of these forensic complaints can be found elsewhere on my blog

I could include Creationism as fake news as it is equally spurious, but is of more marginal importance

Here the ever-perceptive Nick Grealy makes some very good points and thus I asked him if I could nick his blog. I share his view that all this is destroying the environmental movement as once anyone starts to check out this green fakery with intellectual honesty, they will finds flaws galore and soon get disillusioned. It is like the boy who cried wolf.



As that boy discovered to his horror a wolf came and attacked the sheep and nobody took any notice of him until it was too late


and so, if we are not careful the big bad wolf of environmental degradation will jump out and destroy our world. We will have to thank all those green groups if it happens

I do wish the Green Blog would stop crying “Wolf” and get on with caring for our planet instead of pushed their pseudo-green scare-mongering ideology ideology




The nomination of Scott Pruitt has rightly caused much gnashing of teeth at sites like Climate Home.

Green groups reacted with bitter hostility calling Pruitt a “fossil fuel industry puppet” (350.org), “an arsonist in charge of fighting fires (Sierra Club) and “destined for the environmental hall of shame” (NRDC).

But how exactly did Pruitt – and us – get to this position?  All three of the above organisations fought Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s all of the above energy plan because it promoted the use of of natural gas alongside nuclear, efficiency and renewable. The Sierra Club, is the oldest environmental organisation in the US (1892) and has 2.4 million members today.  Yet their Beyond Natural Gas campaign doesn’t have any actual plans, simply a whole bunch of feelings.  A large part of the anti fracking movement narrative depends on  fake news, just as reprehensible coming from the green left as from the right:

Natural gas drillers exploit government loopholes, ignore decades-old environmental protections, and disregard the health of entire communities. “Fracking,” a violent process that dislodges gas deposits from shale rock formations, is known to contaminate drinking water, pollute the air, and cause earthquakes. If drillers can’t extract natural gas without destroying landscapes and endangering the health of families, then we should not drill for natural gas.

Yes this is the same Sierra Club who once took money from Aubrey McClendon’s American Clean Skies. They still take money from Michael Bloomberg for the end coal campaign, even though Bloomberg doesn’t agree with them at all on natural gas.

To keep coal-fired power plants in upstate New York and not frack doesn’t make any sense at all.

We also have Bill McKibben of 350 in 2009

On March 2, environmentalist Bill McKibben joined demonstrators who marched on a coal-fired power plant in Washington D.C. In this article for Yale Environment 360, he explains why he was ready to go to jail to protest the continued burning of coal.

What caused environmental organisations to change their mind about natural gas is one of the mysteries of the age.  Much blame can be found in the intersection of the social media echo chamber where the Tea Party met the Fake News movement and produced the Post Truth Era.  This is the Wikipedia definition, and they at least thanks to donations like mine and I hope yours, are one of the few remaining on line oases of sanity:

Post-truth politics (also called post-factual politics) is a political culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored. Post-truth differs from traditional contesting and falsifying of truth by rendering it of “secondary” importance. While this has been described as a contemporary problem, there is a possibility that it has long been a part of political life, but was less notable before the advent of the internet. In the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell cast a world in which the state is daily changing historic records to fit its propaganda goals of the day. Orwell is said to have based much of his criticism of this on Soviet Russian practices.

The contemporary origin of the term is attributed to blogger David Roberts who used the term in 2010 in a column for Grist.[1][2][3] Political commentators have identified post-truth politics as ascendant in Russian, Chinese, American, Australian, British, Indian, Japanese and Turkish politics, as well as in other areas of debate, driven by a combination of the 24-hour news cyclefalse balance in news reporting, and the increasing ubiquity of social media.[3][4][5][6][7][8] In 2016, “post-truth” was chosen as the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year,[9] due to its prevalence in the context of that year’s Brexit referendum and US presidential election.[10][11]

Tea Party, Green Tea Party, Brexit and Trump were all enabled by two key trends in what was previously called the Main Stream Media.

One is the financial catastrophe that hit newspapers and TV networks as they lose advertising and eyeballs.  But especially in the UK, where luckily , to  my progressive lefty opinion at least, we have the BBC, there was another force present.  We saw the trend  in the UK on first the fracking debate, and secondly the EU referendum debate. The second problem is  false balance. The BBC’s great strength in the main stream media era was that as a public broadcaster they were required to have a neutral stance and reflect a variety of opinion.  I’m happy to concede here that the neutrality does not often extend to the climate debate, but that isn’t the issue here. This from Open Democracy gives a summary of the problem:

There is now widespread agreement that the BBC failed the nation by botching its coverage of the referendum. Viewers and listeners seeking information were instead bombarded with contradictory and impenetrable claims and counter-claims. As a result, many ended up confused, frustrated and sometimes unsure how to cast their votes. BBC representatives have half-admitted that this was so, but have offered an excuse.

It’s worth underlining that the UK shale gas is “controversial” meme stems from giving a platform to all views. Let me make clear, all views should be represented, but at the same time, this result from the Referendum campaign could also describe much of the fracking “debate”. Simply substitute  “campaigners” for politicians:

One effect of this approach was to draw politicians (anti -fracking campaigners) into making ever more extravagant and less well founded claims. It therefore actually reinforced both the opacity and the mendacity of the campaign. Attention had to be concentrated on the often trivial or diversionary assertions of campaigners instead of the real issues.

So in the interests of either balance, or simply to create an interesting twist on the very boring subject of natural gas supply,  a very small minority were given a platform far bigger than votes would otherwise have allowed.  The Lancashire Nana Tina Rothery for example got 3.8% of the vote when she stood for election.  The UK Green Party, which cost Lib Dems previously safe seats throughout the UK, thus destroyed the Lib Dam/Conservative coalition got the same percentage nationally.  They thus set the stage for the Brexit Referendum.

Nowhere in the UK, including Lancashire, London or Yorkshire, do actual hard core opponents of shale number more than a tiny percentage.  Yet eccentrics such as Gayzer Frackman, who also believes in chemtrails, or 9/11 conspiracy “theorists” like Ian R Crane are given platforms for public debate that would make anyone who knows little about the subject think they are credible.   This “balanced” “debate” where the eccentric or just plain cuckoo are given equal weight to thousands of mainstream energy experts confuses, not informs.

The false balance  about fracking is one in which even the UK government colludes, if accidentally, by giving  the choice as one between fracking or renewables as the DECC/BEIS opinion polltrackers insist on presenting.  Renewables always win and if it was a true choice, with a gun to my head, I’d  choose renewables too. Going against wind or solar of the oil industry is a false choice. The reality is that it’s BOTH. To pretend otherwise  is false balance.

False balance can sometimes originate from similar motives as sensationalism, where producers and editors may feel that a story portrayed as a contentious debate will be more commercially successful than a more accurate account of the issue. However, unlike most other media biases, false balance may actually stem from an attempt to avoid bias; producers and editors may confuse treating competing views fairly—i.e., in proportion to their actual merits and significance—with treating them equally, giving them equal time to present their views even when those views may be known beforehand to be based on false information

Fracking in the UK is continually described as “controversial”, despite it only being so to a tiny minority. The all of the above option is notably absent in the fracking debate.  June 23rd showed how binary choices, presented in an emotional  post truth  feeling over fact debate, have not helped democracy, but subverted it.

No where is this more true than the Keep It In The Ground (KIITG) movement, which was given  initial credence by the UK Guardian newspaper.

Interestingly, several present and previous Guardian journalists have told me privately that they were horrified by the KIITG campaign.  Since the departure of Alan Rusbridger the editor at the time, it often , but not often enough, seems to have disappeared – along with 250  jobs.

Rusbridger and Murdoch have similar sorts of motivations: both men have used money-losing papers in pursuit of political beliefs – and in so doing, as each would argue about the other, placed politics above journalism.

It’s clear now that the Keep It In The Ground campaign has failed.  Trump and Brexit showed how post truth triumphed.  The UK anti fracking campaign that is centred on Adam Vaughan of the Guardian may have slowed things down, but certainly not triumphed.

The folks at Climate Home, 350, and Keep It In The Ground got to where they are today in large part by rejecting any pragmatism for the role of natural gas – again a fuel they fully supported when the debate was about facts not feelings, science not emotion.  This is the  “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice” meme that went from Cicero to Goldwater to Malcolm X and now apparently resides both in Trumpism and radical anti frackers.

I fear that some of the Keep It In The Ground tendency will take the wrong conclusion.  They, somewhat like the UK Labour Party under Corbyn, feel that the only reason they failed was due to not being extreme enough in their policies.

Just as Corbyn will take the left down with him, environmentalist extremists won’t learn lessons.  That would be devastating for the environment, but devastating for democracy too.  We need a new centre for a new world, in both politics and environment, before we end up with neither.  We’re standing on the edge of an abyss. What the answer is I don’t know but we have to realise where we stand and how we got there.  This from Michael Lewis in the FT is depressing and instructive, but only if the Green movement engages in some self criticism and learns from the new world:

(Trump’s) rise to power, in this sense, marks the triumph of the irrational in US politics.

“Every which way, Trump is exploiting the faulty mechanisms in people’s minds,” …. “It feels like we are in a world where, to me, some meaningful part of the electorate is beyond reasoning with — beyond fact, anti-science. All the mental faculties that lead to human progress, they are opposed to.”

Faulty mechanisms are in everyone’s minds, not just Trump’s and Farage’s, but in Alan Rusbridger’s too.  It’s time to abandon outdated concepts before they drag everyone down.

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Fracking: ‘Gang plank to climate chaos’ or ‘necessary part of decarbonisation’?

An interesting argument on fracking between Stephen Tindale formerly of Greenpeace and Peter Strachan who claims to be an energy expert and often blocks those who question him on twitter.



With Alex Russell    from the same university he wrote this hyped-up article http://energypost.eu/delusion -cheap-safe-shale-gas-extraction/


A supporter and opponent of onshore fracking went head to head at Westminster yesterday in a debate on shale gas.

Source: Fracking: ‘Gang plank to climate chaos’ or ‘necessary part of decarbonisation’?


peter-strachan-and-simon-tindallA supporter and opponent of onshore fracking went head to head at Westminster yesterday in a debate on shale gas.

Professor Peter Strachan (pictured left), of Robert Gordon University, and Stephen Tindale, co-founder of Climate Answers, were giving evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on unconventional gas and oil.

Professor Strachan, Strategy & Policy Group Lead at Aberdeen Business School, argued that fracking would be banned in Scotland because it failed key tests on energy security, economics, environment and public health, climate change. “We should say no to this dirty fuel”, he said.

Stephen Tindale, who told the meeting he was now a consultant to INEOS Shale, argued: “Shale is a necessary part of decarbonisation”. The former adviser to the industry- funded Shale Gas Task Force (2014-2015) and Executive Director of Greenpeace (2000-2006) added that he was confident fracking would be “well regulated enough” in the UK.

This is what the two men said – in their own words – on key fracking issues:

Does fracking have a social licence?

Peter Strachan

There is no social licence for shale gas north or south of the border. It lacks public support in the UK. The government’s public opinion tracker published in October 2016 found that only 17% of people support fracking. In comparison, 79% of people support renewable energy.

Stephen Tindale

I agree. There isn’t a social licence at the moment. But that can change. One of the reasons I thought it was appropriate for me to try to speak out was because I think too many of the green movement are ignoring the human rights argument but also ignoring the potential role of gas in reducing emissions and the issue of whether shale gas is used in electricity generation is not as bad as coal.

Does importing gas support slave labour?

Stephen Tindale

The Greenpeace 2030 Energy Scenarios  report says 25% of heating should be electric. That is good. That is the right direction to go. That leaves 75% to come from what? The answer is gas. The question then is where does the gas come from?

At the moment, we get a lot of gas from Qatar [25%]. In my view, we should not be getting gas from Qatar, not primarily for climate reasons. More important is the human rights case.

The International Trades Union Congress has done an excellent report on Qatar, which says that however good the direct employer tries to be it is effectively a slave labour economy. To me, supporting a slave labour economy by trading is wrong. So I think the human rights case on importing gas from Qatar needs to be answered.

Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, all these potential places that we could import from, they have very problematic human rights records.

Peter Strachan

I do agree that the UK should take a firm approach to human rights, wherever that should be the case. The UK, however, has fairly strong diplomatic, military and economic ties with Qatar. The trading relationship with that country is worth £5bn a year. Through diplomatic and other means we should be putting pressure on Qatar to clean up its act.

What about our obligation to the citizens of the United Kingdom, to protect them from the threat of climate change?

How much gas do we need?

Peter Strachan

I do slightly object to the point that Stephen and other campaigners take when they start with the question where do we currently get our gas from. I think that’s a mistake.

The specific question we should be asking is how much gas do we actually need in the future? We need to work backwards from that and think about what other low carbon options are available, such as energy efficiency, conservation measures and such like.

If you ask the question ‘how much gas do we actually need?’ you can develop a scenario where we can produce enough gas offshore along with low carbon options onshore.

Stephen Tindale

Shale gas is a fossil fuel yes, but not all fossil fuels are as bad as each other.

Gas is much more about heating than it is about electricity generation. It will remain the main heating fuel for many decades.

It is going to take decades to replace all the domestic heating with electricity and some of the renewables – biomass and biofuels – have very dodgy climate credentials so not everything from renewables is good. That’s why we need other forms of low carbon heating to get enough low carbon electricity to replace not only fossil fuels generation but also oil for transport and gas for domestic heating. So we need a lot more low carbon electricity.

Electricity can’t be used for all heating. Electricity cannot provide heat that is hot enough to carry out industrial processes. So we need other forms of heat, some of which can be from nuclear and some of it should be gas with CCS [carbon capture and storage].

Threat to climate change or necessary bridge?

Peter Strachan

The Committee on Climate Change concluded [in a report for the Scottish Government] emissions from fracking in Scotland would be inconsistent with climate change emissions targets in Scotland.

Research by Nick Corwen and Robin Russell James submitted to the Committee on Climate Change identified another problem attached to fracked gas. Their concern is fugitive methane emissions. These emissions, over the life cycle, make fracked gas two times worse than coal.

Exploiting more fossil fuels is stop climate warming is, in my view, a ludicrous argument. Fracking is a gang plank to climate chaos. The precautionary approach should be adopted.

The climate change issues are significant. By 2030-2035 we will be looking at oil and gas in a completely different way. We might see the end of companies such as Shell, BP. A whole different ethical and moral perspective will dominate. For me it is 100% renewable energy future and until we get to that point we can source enough gas offshore and from Norway to meet any needs that we may have.

Stephen Tindale

Shale is a necessary part of decarbonisation.

Renewables and energy efficiency are the ideal scenario but it is going to take a very long time, even if your objective is to be 100% reliant on renewable energy. It is going to take many decades.

The only country that I am aware of that has a target of 100% renewables for all energy uses is Denmark. Denmark’s target is 2050. They are already a long way ahead of most others, they get about 40% of their energy from renewables.

In my view, 100% renewable is not the correct target because only bioenergy and geothermal produces heat directly.

Carbon capture and storage

Stephen Tindale

The CCS situation is the fault of the UK government* but I very much hope that the Scottish Government will be supportive of calls for Greg Clark [the Business Secretary] to reintroduce the CCS approach because we do need it.

I kind of agree that without CCS gas has no long-term future, certainly in the power sector. CCS in the heating sector is more complex.

I hope the Scottish Government will see fit to support onshore fracking for shale gas

The Committee on Climate Change has indicated that their expectation is that for CCS for gas it is going to be less expensive than CCS for coal. The country that has experience of CCS for gas is Norway and they have been doing it since 1994. They have not been using it in power generation but they have been using it at an offshore gas facility because the gas was not right for generating electricity. They have been making carbon dioxide out of it and they have been successfully storing that since 1994.

In the UK, in my view, the government should focus the CCS effort not on coal but on gas.

Peter Strachan

In my view fracking threatens the climate.  Fracking without CCS is a show-stopper. We shouldn’t even be thinking about it.


Peter Strachan

Fracking economics just don’t add up. It is a boom and bust industry in the United States. It is also a debt-ridden industry.

The Scottish Government report commissioned from KPMG concluded: ‘If oil and gas prices were to remain at historically low levels it would be unlikely that unconventional oil and gas resources in Scotland could be developed economically’.

If you take the low range estimates [from the KPMG report] of what fracking would be worth to the economy, I was astonished at how little the contribution was. Estimated total spend to 2062: £1.5bn; estimated total value added to the Scottish economy: £0.1bn; jobs created: 470; tax receipts: £0.5bn.

In my view this is negligible.

Stephen Tindale

Will shale gas be economic? I don’t know. Nobody knows because the geology of the UK is very different from the US so it needs to be tested. Is that a waste of money? It might be. The question then is whose money is it? Is it public money? No.

There should not be any direct subsidy or grants to the shale industry. Should there be tax breaks? Yes, possibly, because at the moment there is no revenue from tax so if you reduce the tax rate it might get something. That could be usefully used in Scotland to support local councils.

On economics: we don’t know, we shouldn’t give public money to it but we should be prepared to allow them to proceed if they have their own money.

Impact on other industries

Peter Strachan

Fracking is a direct threat to the renewables sector. Already, as a result of government policy we have seen thousands of people in the renewable sector lose their jobs. In addition, fracking is a threat to the offshore and gas industry. Shale gas will derail our transition to a low carbon economy.

Going on international experience, there is every likelihood that fracking would have an adverse impact on other industries, whether the threat is real or perceived.

Tourism, agricultural, food and drink are heavily dependent on having a beautiful natural environment and water. For UK Plc, fracking will undoubtedly damage these sectors. In Australia, for every 10 new jobs created by shale oil and gas agriculture loses 18 jobs.

The KPMG report [for the Scottish Government] concluded ‘Development of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland will also rely on the ability to obtain appropriate funding (debt and/or equity) to support exploration and extraction’.

I don’t think that the banking sector will be impressed by this debt laden industry in the UK.

The recent financial crisis witnessed in the US fracking industry will undoubtedly impact on the $100bn that will be required over a 20-year period to make a UK fracking industry in any way meaningful. That money would be better spent on lower carbon sources. I would recommend that money should be spend on the renewable sector.

Fracking is creating energy insecurity in the offshore oil and gas industry and in the renewables sector.

Steohen Tindale

Energy insecurity in the renewables sector is not being caused by shale. It is being caused by the Government’s flip flops.

Their attitude to onshore wind is inconsistent with their attitude to shale. They’re saying if a local council says no to an onshore wind farm that’s it, no question of calling it in. But on shale if a local council says no they call it in. That inconsistency is not an acceptable basis, in my view, for energy policy. They should both be treated the same. So, shale and onshore wind should be subject to call in because they’re both in the national interest.

Energy security and low carbon economy

Peter Strachan

I don’t think that shale fracking is a solution to the multi-faceted energy challenges that we face in the United Kingdom. Fracking will not help address the 2020 energy crisis we are facing. The shale gas revolution cannot happen quickly enough to address this.

Talking about gas as a bridging fuel is derailing our transition to a lower carbon economy.

Shale gas is the enemy it is not going to help that process.

The SNP 2015 manifesto stated ‘We will not allow fracking or underground coal gasification in Scotland unless it can be proved beyond any doubt that it will not harm the environment, community or public health’.

In my view, the Scottish government can reach only one conclusion and that is to ban fracking in Scotland. Both Westminster and Holyrood must ultimately end their continued fixation with fossil fuels. A better solution is to harness the power of the wind, sun and also the sea of the United Kingdom.

Stephen Tindale

When Amber Rudd [former Energy Secretary] said ‘We are going to shut down coal generation’ she said only if there is energy security, by which she meant only if there is alternatives available installed. So, if there isn’t capacity installed coal will stay open. That is pretty much the worst outcome from a climate perspective.

I completely agree we need to do much more on wind. We need to do much more marine and tidal power.

Environment and public health

Peter Strachan

Fracking fails in a spectacular way on the test of environment and public health. A definitive review of the literature that has been published on shale gas extraction [Towards an Understanding of the Environmental Health Impacts of Unconventional Natural Gas Development] has results that are quite revealing. 84% of the literature on health revealed public health hazards, elevated risks or health impacts. 69% of the literature indicated positive associations or actual evidence of water contamination. 87% found elevated air pollutants and atmospheric concentration of pollutants.

People should be frightened of chemicals when it comes to fracking. Evidence from the Yale School of Public Health on chemicals used in the fracking process in the United States found significant contamination of water, land and air.

Insufficient weight in the UK and Scotland has been given to the health and environmental issues associated with fracking. … Much of the peer-reviewed evidence is being overlooked.

An argument often given by the pro-fracking fraternity is that we can regulate the risk away.

We’re told that you can regulate away all risk but the problem with regulations is they are not preventative.

If you look at the offshore oil and gas industry. During the past few months for example we have had two major spills offshore. … Just think of the devastation such an oil leak could have onshore.

Stephen Tindale

I agree it is a developing science and I agree it needs to be very strictly regulated and very strictly monitored.

The experience from the US under W [George W Bush] was basically amateur cowboys and so some terrible things happened. Yes, Obama has tightened up the regulations, quite considerably, and I think in the UK they [the oil and gas industry] have a good regulatory record. So I think there are grounds for confidence that it would be better regulated in the UK – that’s not hard – and that it would be well regulated enough to minimise threats to public health. Not down to zero but everything has some risk.

I am confident that the risks from fracking are low enough to be worth taking.

However, it must be very heavily monitored. … If when there are some well operational, if the evidence shows that the impact is much greater than anticipated then people like me should be prepared to say ‘ok, the evidence suggests that we have to stop.’

As well as evidence-based policy-making – we don’t see much of it but we hear a lot of talk about it –  there needs to be evidence-based campaigning and at the moment campaigning is not sufficiently in this area evidence-based.

Other comments

Evidence-based campaigning

Point raised by Kathryn McWhirter, anti-fracking campaigner, to Stephen Tindale

I think you misjudge your opposition. I think campaigning is very scientific and evidence based. You really don’t know what you’re up against. Have you not seen research by University College London shows that shale gas can’t be seen as a bridging fuel? The consensus on fugitive methane in the US is that it makes it worse than coal. Anything over 3% makes gas worse than coal.

Stephen Tindale’s reply

Fugitive emissions are the major climate threat from fracking and the Committee on Climate Change had recommendations, particularly on what you need to do to cap wells when they are closed down.

Debt and doubt

Ken Cronin, UK Onshore Oil and Gas, to Peter Strachan

On your comment on the industry being debt-laden, I think you could make an argument about renewables or new nuclear. You could, if you wanted, create that argument for many industries. I have campaigned against polarising the debate. I come very much from the view point that we need more energy.

‘Beyond any doubt’ that is very, very strong language and I was wondering if you could find another industry or industrial activity that you could pin point that you could say risks and hazards are beyond any doubt.”

Peter Strachan’s reply

The First Minister of Scotland made the statement. I think the person you wold need to ask that question to would be the First Minister directly.

You can look at the pros and the cons of many different industries. On every occasion, I would argue for a 100% renewable energy future. We are already seeing the development for example in Norway where they have said by 2025 they will have electric only cars.

The evidence is clear, Shale gas is a dirty fuel. There are significant harmful effects to the environment, communities and public health if you look at the peer-reviewed literature.

Offshore fracking

Graham Dean, Reach Exploration, to Peter Strachan

In the last five years, I think about 15 wells have been fracked in the Scottish sector of the North Sea. Is it right to frack in the North Sea?

Peter Strachan’s reply

The whole environment onshore and offshore are completely different. The public health and environment issues offshore are completely different to onshore. I don’t think under any circumstances should we be looking to do this onshore.

Onshore, the shale industry in the US is effectively a boom-bust debt ridden industry. The North Sea industry has been in existence for 50 years. The North Sea will be in production for another 30-50 years.

* In November 2015 the then Chancellor, George Osborne, cancelled a £1bn pilot CCS project

Updated to correct Stephen Tindale’s name

Which is better; Grass-to-Gas or Fracking? Is someone taking grass?

At the end of the 19th century fuel for transport was causing two serious problems in Britain.

First, the emissions from vehicles was unacceptable as the streets were piling up with horse shit faster than allotment holders could remove it.

Secondly, an ever increasing amount was needed to grow the fuel needed for the engines of the vehicles, otherwise known as fodder.

For longer journeys another carbon-based fuel was used -coal – but that caused problems too.

Then a cleaner fuel was found – petroleum!

Yet today the so-called green electricity provider Ecotricity reckons grass would provide the gas needed to provide all we need! Really to heat homes for 80% of houses and fuel vehicles?  I am sure someone has worked out the area needed on the back of an envelopes and taken into consideration the winter months when grass hardly grows.

Perhaps Dale Vance is taking Grass or something else to suggest this


Even those whose livelihood is developing biogass regard this idea as unsustainable, but, of course the Guardian disagrees.


But some biogas plants cause local problems


Here is a good assessment from Lancashire for Shale , a groupwho consider all forms of energy and not just one!

Ecotricity has been granted planning permission for an anaerobic digestion plant in Hampshire. We take a look at its plans for 5,000 of these “Green Gas Mills” around the country.

Ecotricity’s ‘green gas mill’ at Sparsholt College in Hampshire


It’s an attractive proposition: taking an endless and abundant supply of grass and turning it into gas to heat homes across Britain. Ecotricity says …

Source: Grass-to-Gas or Fracking? – Lancashire For Shale

Here it is.

Ecotricity has been granted planning permission for an anaerobic digestion plant in Hampshire. We take a look at its plans for 5,000 of these “Green Gas Mills” around the country.


It’s an attractive proposition: taking an endless and abundant supply of grass and turning it into gas to heat homes across Britain.

Ecotricity says gas from grass has the potential to provide the needs of 97% of Britain’s homes by 2035.

It’s founder, Dale Vince says: “We now have a more than viable alternative to fracking, which people have been fighting tooth and nail up and down the country to prevent. It’s not too late, because fracking hasn’t started yet.”

Is he right? Could grass-to-gas eliminate the need for fracking and, if so, how feasible would it be in practical terms?

On balance, it doesn’t look like it.

Even if it proves technically valid – and it seems that’s doubtful – Ecotricity’s plans would likely meet just as much local opposition as fracking because of visual and traffic impacts.

The site for which Ecotricity has obtained planning permission is 12 acres in area, or 4.8 hectares. That’s over twice the size of a shale gas pad.

But once constructed, a shale gas well site will be much less visually intrusive than an anaerobic digestion facility with its permanent and industrial-looking tanks, reception hall and silos.

Additionally, a producing shale gas pad will not require a constant stream of lorries to deliver feedstock and take smelly byproduct digestate away to spread on fields, unlike an anaerobic digestion plant.

According to Ecotricity’s planning application, the main road by which heavy goods vehicles will enter and leave the site will see an average of 27 vehicle movements per day from June to September on the northern section and 21 per day on the southern approach.

So that’s a total of 48 vehicles a day for four months or over 3,800 in total – and higher than the average traffic movements that would stem from bringing a shale gas site into being.

But in the case of the Ecotricity site, those traffic impacts would be evident for every year of operation whereas a producing shale gas site will be responsible for very few traffic movements.

It’s taken Cuadrilla over 2 years to obtain planning permission for a single site in Lancashire that would be less visually obtrusive and responsible for significantly fewer lifetime HGV journeys, and so it’s hard to imagine it being much easier for Ecotricity.

It submitted its original application in January 2016, which was turned down in April. It tried again in July and obtained planning permission in October – taking 10 months in total.

To build 5,000 of them between now and 2035 would require Ecotricity to construct over 2 plants a year, every year, which given the time it takes just to navigate the planning and permitting processes involved seems implausible.

Then consider the cost – £10 million each if the Hampshire site is anything to go by – bringing the total to an eye-watering £50 billion which, according to Dale Vince, would only be possible with public subsidy, which is why Ecotricity is lobbying the government to let it cash in on the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). It’s quite unlike the £33 billion EY say it would cost to build a mature shale gas industry and which would be funded entirely through private investment with no subsidy.

Putting all other arguments aside, you’re then left with the question of why do it in the first place.

If there was an urgent need to find a better way of dealing with unwanted grass, then turning it into energy like we do with food waste and farm slurries would be a great idea, because it would essentially kill two birds with one stone.

But there’s no such problem with grass.

So what other benefit would there be to industrialising the countryside with 5,000 of these cumbersome looking facilities?

It wouldn’t do anything to decarbonise home heating because the gas it produces is still methane, and still contains carbon that would be released to the environment from the exhaust of central heating boilers up and down the country. So there wouldn’t be any net benefit for the climate, in fact, it would arguably be worse because of all those extra truck and tractor movements needed to harvest and transport grass and then take away the biosolid residues.

A smarter move would be for Ecotricity to team up with the fracking industry and co-locate shale and biogas sites in the same locations, sharing the risk of planning and permitting and cutting down on the costs of the infrastructure needed to get the gas to market (such as grid connections) and making grass-to-gas more commercially viable with fewer sites – moreso if the biogas plants could also accept food and farm waste from rural communities.

It looks like grass-to-gas could be a companion to shale, but it couldn’t be a competitor.

Why Some Greens won’t listen

I often find that though environmentalists have their hearts in the right place, at times their minds are not as some will not listen to any scientific, technical or rational reasoning and almost hide behind a green wall of their binary thinking categorising everything into green or not green.

Here Nick Grealy deals with the problem of the loss of green discourse in his usual lively way

The Green Wall of Deaf.


Last week, Stephen Tindale, director of UK Greenpeace wrote a piece supporting shale gas from a green perspective in The Sun, Britain’s largest circulation newspaper.

DURING my five years running Greenpeace, we pushed for an increased number of wind farms, a more efficient national energy grid and restrictions on the use of ­hazardous chemicals.

We won every one of those battles

But today Britain faces its biggest environmental challenge ever — tackling global warming while still keeping the lights on.

And as a lifelong champion of the Green cause, I’m convinced that fracking is not the problem but a central part of the answer.

But it all fell on deaf ears. Deaf Green Ears.

I know Stephen and I’m sure he would prefer this peace to have appeared in  The Guardian. After all, Damian Carrington the Environment Editor there has been utterly relentless in his attempts to keep UK gas in the ground.  Stephen’s politics are much like mine -Labour (Sadiq Khan London wing) and Remain. The Sun, by no means the worst UK tabloid, is not a natural home for greens,  given it’s Murdoch ownership and it’s strident right wing tone is unlikely to have few green readers. I assume The Guardian was deaf to his pitch, just as they have been for mine. But it’s becoming clear that this is censorship.

On one hand, the piece struck me as yet another example of the UK shale industry spending what little resources they have to preach to the already converted. Yet, it is the complete lack of reaction from the UK Green Side that speaks volumes. There was a communal wall of silence around the article from all the UK climate side: Guardian, Business Green, Independent, Carbon Brief, ECIU, Edie, Aldersgate Group, Green Alliance, 1010 etc were united in ignoring the issue and none of them  reported or responded. We need those people on board. After all they not only trumpet shale as an enemy of renewables at any and every opportunity, they also profess that the one clear challenge of the day is global warming. They also support Greenpeace and FoE anti shale projects which outnumber industry ones by orders of magnitude.

But all steadfastly refuse to engage. They’re simply Green bullies. Always attacking, always sniping and never, ever able to man or woman up enough to explain their objections in anything less than an occasional tweet or a derisory throw away line based on the same stuff they’ve been saying since 2009. They absolutely refuse to engage with any one.

This from Stephen especially  resonates:

I’ve tried to ask green groups if they would really prefer to get their power from slave labour rather than fracking — but they don’t have an answer to that.

So shale gas is good for meeting our energy needs. It’s good for protecting the environment. And it’s good for human rights.

Of course, these views have put me at odds with many of my former colleagues in the environmental movement.

Interestingly, the negative response to my views on fracking has actually been much stronger than when I changed my position to support nuclear power — which just goes to show how hostile this debate has become.

And I thought it was just me. Leo Hickman, director of Carbon Brief for example accuses me of arrogance. The same charge has been made of me by the PR guru behind Ineos Shale by the way. I’m not especially arrogant, I’m like the character described in Paul Theroux’s book and film The Mosquito Coast.

“Allie, your father is the worst type of pain in the ass. He’s always right”.

(Except to my own children, I hasten to add).

Over the past 8 years here, one can  return to most any random article going back years, and I predicted what at that time sounded completely off the wall by ‘conventional wisdom’ of the day.  All this in retrospect proved to be true. (Sadly I have an undeserved reputation among global energy analysts as being so right about almost everything that I must be well on the road to riches by now). What mostly happened is that PR guys have stolen every word I say . To paraphrase Gandhi, first they laugh at you, then they argue with you, then they hate you and ultimately they steal your work and pretend they always felt that way. That’s certainly not the case with Stephen I hasten to add, who wrote his/our case on his own blog and mine some time back.

Google Stephen’s name however and there’s nothing in the UK from his former colleagues. Nothing. Not one single reference, except tot the original story.  Stephen still makes money pushing new nuclear and tidal barrages, whereas I just stick to natural gas. The gaps in Stephens’ knowledge about gas came out in a BBC Daily Politicsshow piece earlier this week by his not calling out Lancashire Nana Tina Rothery’s mis-statements on LNG and one of Damian Carrington’s  basic misconceptions  made the headline hers not the gas industry’s.

Fracking won’t come on line for 10 to 15 years

This insane headline, which flies in the face of any US experience stems from one rubbish study on UK fracking dating from 2009, the dark ages of fracking. The US experience shows otherwise, this being an example from just today:

Bob Orndorff with Dominion: West Virginia has seen a 280 % increase in dry gas production from 2010 to 2014 pic.twitter.com/fyDeWn9mMM
26/10/2016, 14:25

But Tina’s misconceptions are now all over the BBC and celebrated as gospel by not only Tina’s clique, but by people who don’t know, and don’t care, about natural gas. People in places like:

Guardian, Business Green, Independent, Carbon Brief, ECIU, Edie, Aldersgate Group, Green Alliance , 1010 etc

I’ve been on Daily Politics a couple of times, but I’m probably not too popular with them because of my arrogance against Brexit these days. Perhaps they fears my predictions about that fantasy project will be equally as clairvoyant.

The BBC has a responsibility to show “balance”. One can say that’s unwise considering Brexit, just as the US press is having some soul searching over the free pass “balance” gave to Donald Trump. But for now, in BBC Land, every position must be “balanced”.  And weirdly,  Tina was the only one they could dig up. Tina Rothery suggests that Cuadrilla’s drilling decision is a travesty against democracy while never mentioning how she ran against George Osborne and got 3.8% of the vote by the way.

But it’s Tina’s supporters and paymasters who were absent.Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth appear so often on College Green outside Parliament, in front of the BBC and Sky News studio at 4 Millbank that they destroy that particular patch of green.  They  have enough anti fracking demonstrations on the grass, but aren’t willing to engage on the screen.  After the recent Fox fiasco on BBC R4 Today, perhaps Tony Bosworth and Craig Bennnet of Friends of the Earth or Lawrence Carter or Doug Parr of Greenpeace were at the bottom of the producer’s list

But, strangely enough,, Damian Carrington of the Guardian , James Murray of Business Green, Leo Hickman, Megan Darby and Simon Evans of Carbon Brief or Richard Black and George Smeeton of ECIU , hardly shrinking violets in their support of renewables and climate issues in every other media, also seemed to have turned down the chance to confront their fears and have a polite, collegial debate. It would have been nice to have Bryn Kewley of E3G or Dustin Benton of the Green Alliance on there too.

All of the above are continual snipers, naysayers and general saboteurs of UK onshore natural gas. They could easily make mincemeat out of people like the mysterious, invisible and very well paid spokesperson for UKOOG Averill MacDonald, but they didn’t want to engage with Stephen, for much the same reason they consistently refuse to engage with me.  They prefer to cast the oil and gas industry as distant pantomime villains. The last thing they would like their supporters to see is a rational, climate based progressive argument in favour of natural gas from people who don’t want to play the role. They especially love to dismiss anyone from the gas industry as an enemy of the climate, air, water, land and progressive political values. They say the most brutal wars are civil wars.  That’s why these cowards won’t debate Stephen or I.

Thus, Stephen’s appearance got far more reaction in the US press, albeit among the US fracking claque echo chambers in places like the Washington Times instead of the New York Times.

Don’t ask me what the answer is, although brains and money are always useful in these kind of things. The essential problem is that the anti –frackers think they have won and don’t want to be confronted with any of those fact thingies anymore than the Brexit and Trump supporters and their disdain for “experts” do. As long as they hide, and don’t reveal any uncomfortable facts from their followers, they’re winning.

The Deaf Green Claque are simply bullies. They’re chickens.  But all chickens come home to roost, slowly, but surely. There’s one chicken one day, two the next week and a few the next month. Chickens always arrive at the roost – but not all at once. One day, everybody will simply notice : they’re here.

Ken Wilkinson on Fracking (Harrogate 6/10/16)

On 6th October Ken Wilkinson gave a talk at a debate in Harrogate with Lorraine Allanson was the second speaker.. He was opposed by john Plummer, a local FoE bod (fresh from the exposure of FoE’s porkies in The Times and,Ian Crane, a chemtrails expert, who claims oil experience but confirmed to Ken that he worked in HR, and so has NO experience of drilling. Apparently he was very high in Schlumberger HR. If you enjoy chemtrails read this   . It was part of a debate given mostly to anti-frackers, but here is Kens’s contribution. As the meeting was mostly fractivists he lost the debate but won the argument!! Ken says, “the audience was largely against, they had to look through the evidence. I cant help thinking that will have made some question why they are ‘anti’, in view of the fact that their evidence based on bullshit. The hard liners will never change, but others….I really enjoyed the presentation, and had a smile on my face all the time! Very little has been said on social media about this. That to me speaks volumes.”


(apologies for the poor presentation of the pictorial evidence as the PDF used was not being co-operative with me!)

Ken on Fracking 6th October 2016

I have come here today to help dispel the tidal wave of misinformation that surrounds the well established process known as fracking. I have suitable qualifications, and 12 years of oil and gas engineering experience to support my research.  I am not an expert, but know people who are. I have no affiliations with the industry and am totally unpaid for this.

Many may wonder why I spend my time doing this. I campaigned intensely several years ago against a charity that denied access to my favorite paragliding site. I ran a website, lead protest marches that were covered by the TV, and had MPs involved. I believe in  campaigning against something that I feel is wrong or unjust.

Having industry knowledge, I was shocked at the lack of understanding displayed by protesters and I started to research and fight back. In a public meeting I challenged Frack Free Somerset and they were unable to answer my questions. ‘The Truth Behind the Dash for Gas’ had been shown in one of Ian Crane’s propaganda films. It showed sobbing people, and terrible events, but was based on a limited number of facts and was aimed primarily at scaring people.

I brought Advertising Standards complaints against a leaflet distributed by Frack Free Somerset and they had to withdraw and promise not to repeat their claims. I followed that with a complaint against Resident Action on Fylde Fracking, in Lancashire.  Again they had to withdraw, and the same for Frack Free Alliance and Breast Cancer UK.  Frack Free Ryedale also made false claims in an advert, involving claims that fracking would industrialise the countryside. They also withdrew. I am not very popular with them!

Please note that I am merely a retired teacher with a keyboard, and my views are independent. None of these groups wanted to be challenged, yet when they were asked to sustain what they presented to the public, they were unable to provide credible evidence.

That’s the problem with the fracking debate. There is so much dubious information. A few historical incidents from some poorly regulated states in America are presented as systematic problems. The retired Governor of Pennsylvania recently stated, ‘we didn’t regulate well construction and frack water as well as we should have at the time. We cured that in 2010, and we haven’t had any significant incidents since.

Similarly in Australia, there have been concerns about coal seam gas extraction. Shallow coal seam gas is a completely different technique to deep shale gas extraction, but the main point is how well controlled has this been? How well were regulations applied? What were the regulations? In the UK, operators satisfy regulators on numerous aspects of safety. These are the latest regulations and they are extensive. (Hold up regulations)

You could say the same about the aircraft industry. At the start, flying was very risky. Engineers addressed the problems. Now aircraft are incredibly reliable, from an engineering perspective.

Public health England have noted that ‘Where potential risks have been identified in the literature, the reported problems are typically a result of operational failure and a poor regulatory environment’

Many are critical of UK regulation, yet the Institute of Mechanical Engineers concluded recently ‘ONSHORE oil and gas operations have been managed safety and with minimal impact on the UK’s natural and human environment for over 100 years. The current UK “Goal Setting” Regulatory Regime has been found to be robust and effective. The UK Regime is significantly different to that in the US.

The problem with the fracking debate is that it is infected with dubious information. Looking at health, hundreds of supposed scientific papers have been published in the US, claiming to find links between health and fracking. Just recently there was a well publicised paper that claimed to find that living near a well led to an increase in asthma.  Please now look at the Evidence sheet that was on your seat as you came in. Evidence 1 on the sheet shows dots for wells and dark areas for asthma hotspots.  As you can see for yourself, there is no link between asthma and drilling.


Evidence 1

The most drilled areas have the least asthma (A)
The least drilled areas have the most asthma (B),
(Darker = more asthma, the dots are the new wells)

The Pennsylvania Department of Health conducted their own investigation and discovered that in the same time period, asthma actually decreased by 26%. See Evidence 2 on the Evidence sheet.


So contrary to what you have been told, the researchers own data showed that the counties in the US with the most drilling, had the least cases of asthma!

In Pennsylvania, that is not surprising as the pollutants from coal production have massively reduced due to the corresponding increase in gas production.  This has led to significant  reductions in lung complaints, and that is down to swopping coal for gas.

There is a load of money available from US anti fossil fuel groups such as the Sierra Club, and Park Foundation to fund anti fracking studies that support their pre-conceived ideas.  This is what we call “bad science “ as it is not capable to withstand scientific scrutiny.  The same researcher and his group have also published about premature babies. Again, expert scrutiny has completely dismissed their claims, but it doesn’t stop the sensation seeking press from running these stories. You have to ask yourself the question. If there are so many health effects, why do Public Health England reject these concerns? Why have there been no health related lawsuits? Where are the wards full of sick people?

The Medact Report has influenced many, and the press release in 2015 indicated that there were clear links to serious health issues. The chemicals they report on are NOT PERMITTED IN THE UK!  While not an apology, Medact did recognise their mistake and issued an updated report in 2016 that now states ‘Based on current evidence it is not possible to conclude that there is a strong association between shale gas related pollution and negative local health effects’.You can see these words in Evidence 3 of your Evidence sheet.


In other words, out of all of the hundreds of published papers that were reviewed, they are now unable to find a single one that finds a conclusive link between fracking and health! That’s a shocking finding that the public need to be made aware of.


They then state that one health issue could be ‘stress, anxiety and other psycho-social effects’.  Scaremongering can become a self fulfilling prophecy.  If people are constantly being told that fracking will be bad for their health, of course, it will cause an increase in stress!

Public Health England are a statutory consultee in fracking applications. That means that they have to keep up with new developments. In the Lancashire Planning committee report, they dismissed the Medact report and other oft cited papers as bad science. Science is based on evidence, and there is nothing conclusive, even from the US. This has been confirmed by dozens of expert bodies that have investigated the process who have all confirmed that it can be done safely if done properly.  I refer you to these expert bodies in Evidence 4 on your Evidence sheet.


The Royal Society, The Royal Academy of Engineering, the British Geological survey and so on. These are the top brains of UK science. In truth this is just a small sample of the expert groups that say that well regulated fracking is low risk. That is engineers speak for safe.

Friends of the Earth have been central in providing support for many anti fracking groups that have sprung up everywhere. They recently distributed a leaflet that made many questionable claims, in that ‘toxic and carcinogenic, materials would be used in fracking. (See Evidence 5).

FoE’s dodgy leaflet


Most people think that Friends of the Earth are a well meaning charity, but in fact there are two Friends of the Earths, one that acts as a charity that can legitimately raise money and the other that acts like a PR machine, scaring people to raise money for their charity company. This has been set up to avoid Charity Commission attention. The main fundraiser for Friends of the Earth limited is fracking. They have suffered drops in income in recent years so fracking is the new cash cow. To rally the troops they are begging for money using scaremongering claims. In law, the Environmental Permitting regulations 2010, schedule 22, paragraph 4 states that carcinogenic and toxic materials are classed as ‘hazardous’ and the Environment Agency will not permit them to be used under any circumstances. Please see evidence 6 with the exact wording in law.


As you may expect, I brought a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority. The inability of Friends of the Earth to sustain their false claims was highlighted on the front page of the Times recently. Please refer to Evidence 7 on your Evidence sheet.


After 9 months of delaying tactics, Friends of the Earth have been unable to provide credible evidence for their leaflet. The judgement was a draft but someone (not me) leaked it to the press. It is damning in its criticism of Friends of the Earth. All four complaints were provisionally upheld.

In truth, Friends of the Earth limited have always known that their claims were false and when Tony Bosworth was questioned about carcinogenic materials on BBCs North West tonight, he said that the carcinogenic material they were concerned about was sand. Yes, you did hear that correctly, the same sand that your kids play with on the beach. The next day the Times headline was ‘Fracking opponents ridiculed for claiming sand is a cancer risk’.  

They also claim that polyacrylamide causes cancer, and is used in frack fluid.

(Drink water now)

This is polyacrylamide. I bought this as a ‘non toxic childrens toy’.

To be fair, it is hazardous, as it’s a choke hazard for children under 3. Its also a soil conditioner, and is used in lip fillers and nappies!

Hopefully this complaint against Friends of the Earth will come to a judgement shortly. As I said earlier, Friends of the Earth use a limited company to avoid the attentions of the Charity Commission. They scare you with one hand called Friends of the Earth which is a limited company, and they receive money with the other hand, also called Friends of the Earth, which is a charity. The Charity Commission will not allow charities to tell lies as they class that as ‘political activity’.

In 2012, during the Moratorium on fracking, the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering published a report about shale gas. They identified 10 recommendations. The process for implementation was set in place in 2012. Many may have heard claims that ‘only one of these has been put in place’. That is demonstrably false. I have been advised that 6 are in place and the rest are ongoing.

The Health and Safety Executive are responsible for well design and safety. They have regulated the North Sea for decades and our regulations are world class. The sealing of wells is paramount. The HSE require two lines of defence both internally and externally and on top of that, the Environment Agency require an extra layer of casing both above and below the aquifer.  This is to ensure wells do not leak and have virtually no chance of contaminating an aquifer.  In a poorly regulated state or country, it is possible to have incidents and I can refer you to Evidence 8 in your Evidence sheet.


You can see that the drilling company has left parts of the well unsealed, but even a well like this can be repaired to make it safe using modern technology and engineering practices. No case of deep fraccing fluids entering shallow aquifers has ever been documented, as noted in the Royal Academy report.

Many are worried about old wells leaking. Often claims are made that ‘60%’ of wells will leak in time. This data refers to ‘Sustained Casing Pressure’ which is an internal leak where the gas does not get into the environment.  Real leaks to the environment are very rare indeed with gas detectors at surface that would pick up a leak very quickly.  and alert the company so that the well can be shut in using a remotely operated surface valve.

Corrosion is another worry, and I worked on this in the 1980s, and so have some direct experience. If a well is properly sealed then fluids cannot move. That means no corrosion can take place. Is anyone worried about New York’s Empire State building falling over? That is made of cement and steel buried underground in a salty environment, just like a gas well. It has survived for nearly 100 years!

In terms of seismic risk, there is a vanishingly small risk that a tiny tremor, like the one in Blackpool could occur which measured 2.3 on the Richter scale.  Again, seismic specialists have researched this extensively and have regulated the process with a traffic light system to mitigate the risk of this ever happening again.

Earthquakes in the US that have been attributed to fracking are in fact from disposal wells. Disposal of fracking fluids in this manner is not permitted in the UK under any circumstances by the Environment Agency.

Pollution incidents from the US which are not permissible in the UK include:

  • Leaking fluids from open storage pits. These are not permitted in the UK due to risk of flooding and splitting. See evidence 9
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  • spills from unlined well-pads. Impermeable membranes to mitigate any chemical spill are required in the UK. See evidence 10


Truck accidents are another worry.  Do we stop the delivery of food to supermarkets or petrol to petrol stations due to accident risk? Or do we get experienced drivers on well maintained trucks to mitigate the hazard?

Many are concerned about water pollution, yet drilling is not even allowed in water extraction areas. In the UK all the chemicals that are used by drilling companies have to be disclosed and provided to the EA for testing and approval.  No chemicals that are hazardous to aquifers or groundwater are allowed under any circumstance. Strong EU environmental Directives like the Water Framework Directive have taken away Friends of the Earth’s campaign rationale. Beaches, rivers, and water must be  clean, pollution must be controlled, industries must be licenced and any breaches of law can and do result in warnings which if not acted upon will be followed by prosecution.

Shale gas production could be spectacular. It has been calculated that a single drilling rig, drilling at the same rate as in the US, could supply London, in 3 years! Advances in fracking techniques mean that well production rates decline much slower than before and shale wells in the US currently produce more than double the total output of traditional gas wells. A single well-pad could have 40 wells, producing for 20 years, all hidden behind trees, This will lead to tax revenues, and local jobs. Drilling would be slower in the UK, due to the high level of regulation, BUT the point is that the scare stories are just that. Scare stories. Nobody is proposing the types of drilling and industrialisation shown in evidence 11 on your Evidence sheet.


Using modern directional drilling techniques, well pads can be spaced miles apart, not hundreds of yards. The actual plans are for well hidden well-pads with multiple wells as shown in evidence 12.



Who knows where the 10 wellpads are in the Vale of Pickering area? So why do groups like Frack Free Ryedale and Friends of the Earth deliberately try to deceive the public?

Others worry that the water used in fracking that is not removed from the well will magically rise against the force of gravity and the thousands of feet of rock above it to pollute the water supplies above. In fact, the Royal Academy of Engineering report noted that this will not happen in the UK. Even if it did the chemicals are non hazardous.

Like you, Lorraine and I are concerned about climate change. We would love renewables to work but solar and wind currently produce a tiny percentage of our energy usage.

There is currently no practical storage for large amounts of electricity in the UK. Many talk about electricity as ‘energy’  but that is only 1/5th of our use. What about heating, transport, and industry. They are almost entirely fossil fuel based.

The US has reduced its carbon output massively as it has switched from coal to gas. As I mentioned before there is a massive health benefit in doing this as coal pollutants are no longer released. All projections show that we are going to be using gas for decades to come.

The only question is where it comes from.  We are currently importing over half of our gas usage. This is predicted to rise to around 80% in a few years.

The clear evidence of the 2013 Mackay Stone report on greenhouse gas impacts from using gas show that locally produced shale gas is the best option. Gas from Russia comes through long pipelines. Liquified Gas from Qatar needs lots of energy to cool it, and to transport it and gasify it again. The gas with the least hydrocarbon footprint comes from under our feet.

There are no significant leak pathways in drilling and fracking so what is the problem? If the HSE tolerated leaks we would have many more explosions in our houses, our kitchens, industries and the pipelines under our roads.  In the UK flaring is not allowed other than for a short period to test the wells.  As Kirby Misperton flaring will not be required as the pipelines are already in place.  In Lancashire, they will use shrouded flares, for exploration, which are required to be quiet and efficient. Once a pipeline is installed then green completions would mean that no gas would be vented at all. Again, when looked at, these are minor concerns.

We are surrounded by incredible technology. Planes, phones, medicine, and space technology have all have seen amazing advances using UK scientists.

Recently, Crossrail meant that a 7m wide tunnel was drilled under the most expensive property in the world. Did anyone say it would not be safe.  Of course not. We expect these things to be done with educated and experienced people, who know what they are doing. Why is the shale drilling industry held to a different level of accountability?

After several years of investigating this, I still am at a loss to understand what is so concerning about fracking. Is it purely the use of the F word and all the connotations that can be derived from it. Is it the fact that minority groups need another cause to get behind just like they did in the past with fox hunting, apartheid, and anti abortionism.  Or is it the case the there are some countries who do not want to see the UK become self reliant on energy again.  I don’t know, but what I do know is that the public are being grossly misled by organisations like FoE and other protest groups.  Fracking ladies and gentlemen can be done safely, it can be done safely environmentally , it does not increase health risks, it can bring many benefits to both the region and the UK and with all these factors in mind, I urge you to repel the motion in front of you.




Josh Fox and his second GASLAND sitcom.

On Friday 14th October the residents of salubrious Lytham St Annes have the great opportunity of seeing Josh fox’s Gasland II exposing the horrors of fracking which will soon be unleashed on the Fylde. We can expect the Fylde to sink below sea level according to one Lytham expert and all will have flaming taps, get cancer and suffer from asthma.

Image result for fox gasland II

Fox’s first documentary  sitcom was Gasland produced in 2011. It was full of horrors stories like flaming taps. How that can be due to fracking when it has been going on since at least the 19th century, I do not know. However his award-winning films influenced many (including the Blackburn diocese environment committee) to oppose fracking. It also made me initially opposed  – until I started to do some fact-checking.


Gasland II was introduced with a great fanfare and now Fox is looking for chickens in Britain as he tours the land giving special shows. I am sure he will find some chickens….

In anticipation of this he was interviewed on the Today programme of Radio 4 on wed 12th October. He kept interrupting the interviewer as you will find if you listen to the interview. from 2 hrs 20 mins.


He claimed he was treated disgracefully and recorded two videos to says this but deleted the first, though they were stashed away by Nick Grealy.




Much can be followed up but good friend Nick Grealy collected bits and then this was written up across the pond by Tom Shepstone on


I simply lift what Tom Shepstone wrote

The Insufferable Josh Fox Loses It on BBC Radio

350.org - Tom Shepstone ReportsTom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.



Josh Fox, the most arrogant and insufferable of all fractivists, completely lost it on BBC radio today, trying to motormouth over the interviewer.

Josh Fox was on BBC Radio earlier this week and made a complete ass of himself. He was totally insufferable. He talked rapidly and tried to overwhelm the BBC interviewer, Sarah Montague. He revealed his frustration there’s anyone in the world who could possibly disagree with him. He treated Montague as if she had no right to ask questions that might interrupt his diatribe. It was a mess and Fox’s sigh at the end was priceless. The Brits just got a big dose of reality on the joker we know as Josh Fox.

There’s not much more I need to do here than to let Josh Fox speak for himself. He’s most definitely his own worst enemy in this interview, which starts at 2:21:58 in this radio show (only available for 29 more days):


I’m no fan of the BBC but Sarah Montague is a professional. She calmly tried to interrupt the torrent of nonsense Fox was spewing to ask very simple questions. She kept coming back to them and refused to be deflected.

Fox offered absolutely nothing other than the same old long ago refuted talking points. He had nothing new. He resorted to calling Lisa Jackson, the first Obama Administration EPA Administrator a liar. He claimed flaming faucets were always due to fracking (he backtracked later). He claimed it’s impossible to drill an oil and gas well that doesn’t leak. He was exasperated by the simplest of questions and the audacity of the interviewer in posing them. He protested at one point there was no need to re-litigate the question of drinking water contamination.

It was, in a word, horrible. The ending, when Montague tells Fox his time is up is a beautiful thing. Fox sighs like the spoiled child he is, no doubt maddened by the fact he couldn’t go deeper into the recent UK approval of drilling in Lancashire. He apparently has words with her, as well. He can be heard in the background mouthing something as the next host explains away the background noise by noting “our gentleman is just going.”

That about sums it up, doesn’t it? Josh Fox is just going. His 15 minutes of fame were up a while ago but he’s hung around trying to revive the glory days, trying to attach himself to whatever stories are out there (Lancashire, Dakota Access Pipeline, etc.). The gig is over, though. Sarah Montague revealed him as the babbling idiot he is by asking a few pointed questions. Bully for her.

Hat Tip: Nick Grealy

Update: Josh Fox, looking, for all the world, like he’s about to cry after his disastrous BBC interview, went on video to prove everything you might have suspected after Sarah Montague dared to challenge him. What an insolent little brat! Go somewhere and have that little cry, Josh, and leave the rest of us alone. There’s a whole lot of farmers and other landowners in our area who have real reasons to cry for what you did to them but they’re not doing interviews to shed tears for themselves. They’re standing up and fighting like real men and women

Update II: Well, that didn’t take long! Less than 8 hours after several of us pointed out what a crybaby Josh Fox was for calling a tame BBC interview a “sneak attack,” the whining little snit took it down or had it taken down. David Fenton must have called and told him it didn’t look good. As one of my friends over at Energy In Depth noted “If you don’t give Fox a softball interview, he loses it.” We observed this once before, of course,when he was challenged on his background story and it completely collapsed. Then, there was this.

Update III: Well, Fox decided to do a new version of his crybaby video for Facebook. It’s the same whiny claptrap as before with less obvious tears about to fall. It’s another selfie type video with Fox’s face so close you want to say “step back man,” revealing a lot about the conceited nature of this phony third-rate filmmaker trying to ride the wave of his cause as a way back of the obscurity to which he’s rapidly descending.

I wonder how the folks in Bristol will receive this joker. My family originally came from near there (a tiny place called Rowberrow). They were sheep herders and lime-burners; the sort of very ordinary people for whose economic needs Fox and his wealthy foundation friends have nothing but contempt.


Here now is Fox writing for the Guardian which specialises in mis-reporting of fracking


And finally an old review of the howlers in the first Gasland of 2011, which many Greens regard as both inerrant and infallible




Climate Change over 20,000 years, fact and fiction

{Warning; your mouse will get tired with the scrolling but please scroll to the end, even if your mouse dies.]


I was very fortunate to carry out field work as an exploration geologist in the Richtersveld a remote part of Cape Province in South Africa. It was a fascinating time and I was tie 3rd geologist to work there, following Rogers who went there on horseback in 1914 and de Villiers and Sohnge who spent several field seasons there in the 1940s. I was sent in by Falconbridge of Africa and Dr Alfred Kroner came up from the Precambrian Research Unit of the University of Cape Town.


The Richtersveld consists of a massive sequence of late Pre-Cambrian sediments lying on top of old basement (c2.400my). The lower part of the sequences are mostly sandstones and other clastics and are about the same age as the Torridonian Sandstone of NW Scotland. The top was Numees tillites and associated strata named after Numees, wher a Capt Alexander developed a small copper mine in the 1830s. He gave the name of Alexander Bay at the mouth of the Orange River, where there are alluvial diamonds, The Numees tillite is a variable sequence of diamictites with stones and boulders in a dirty sandy matrix. At the time its glacial origin was question but I did find some varves including some with drop-stones deforming the varves. In the 70s the jury was out on the galcial nature of these sediments, but no more and some suggest a Snowball Earth at that time  (c600-580my). [tillites are a general term for ancient glacial deposits)

Also in South Africa were the Dwyka tillites of Permian age (c290my), but I never looked at them. Along with them are the late Ordovician tillites (c445my), some of which can be found in the Howgills near Sedbergh in Yorkshire. Finally the recent Ice Ages began about 2 my ago. I studied these in North Wales as a result of researching the work of Buckland and Darwin in 1841 and 1842. (I wrote this up for the PGA (Preceedings of the Geologists Assoc in 2012.) Later in 1997 I found an example of moraines from a mini-glacier in the Savoie alpes in France , which most like dated from the Little Ice Age – i.e. 1600-1800. I also intrigued by changes in climate since the end of the last Ice Age. Hence as a geologist I could see that the earth’s temperature had fluctuated over geological time, and for some time could not see that changes today were significant.

I have to confess that this made me sceptical of Global warming in the 90s, but only sceptical in the sense of questioning and not denial. My sceptism was dealt with in 1998 as I kept meeting Sir John Polkinghorne at meetings – including one at a Creationist church – when he explained changes in the last 100,000 years. I think I was converted to global warming in the creationist church!!

I was a good converts and devoted half a chapter to evanglicals and global warming in my book Evangelicals and Science (2008), where I was critical of those who denied Global Warming eg the Cornwall Institute of Calvin Beisner and others. I dealt with further in a chapter I wrote for Religion in environmental and Climate Change (2012 ed Gerten and Bergmann). In that I was critical of the GWPF of Lord Lawson and also Peter Forster, bishop of Chester.

Thus I was good believer in Global Warming, or rather, not a bleiever, but one who accepted the scientific arguments. In the last few years I have been annoyed by simplistic arguments from climate activists, who seem more concerned with activism than truth. I found some of the more apocalyptic claims too far fetched. These seem to give a secular alternative to the evangelical Left Behind nonsense. I reckon they undermine both the scientific basis of Climate Change AND, more seriously, bring the need to address Climate Change into question. In fact, Climate Change Deniers (not Sceptics) can use this to avoid action as holes can be picked in Climate alarmist claims. By questioning Climate Alarmism some devotees have concluded falsely that I am a denier.

Recently this A Timeline of earth’s Average Temperature has done the rounds on social media. It simply does not do justice to what has happened in the last 20000 years. It portrays steady gradual changes in temperature in that time, but a sudden rapid rise since 1980. The Younger Dryas of 10,000 years is hardly a blip, yet it was a sudden cooling for a thousand odd years and then a sudden warming. The drop in temperature of c 1300 is smoothed out as is the Little Ice Age.

You can whizz down this and pick up my comments later.

http://xkcd.com/1732/Earth Temperature Timeline

As I am a very bad boy and refuse to impose self-censorship, I read stuff from any perspective and actually found this denialist blog “wattsupwiththat”  helpful in comparison! https://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/09/29/earths-obliquity-and-temperature-over-the-last-20000-years/ To some my credibility will have gone, but it’s no worse than alarmist guff.

He presented a cartoon by Javier, a molecular biologist, to correct the cartoon above. This is a far more accurate presentation of changes in temperature and records sudden changes. (As I am not an expert I cannot be sure how accurate it is, but it is in more accord with all I have read including John Kingdom’s wonderful New Naturalist  volume Climate and Weather, which traces out the climate (and temperature) in Britain from the 1st Century BC until today)


And then finally there is this blog https://andymaypetrophysicist.com/climate-and-human-civilization-over-the-last-18000-years/#comment-166 which traces out climatic changes in the last 18000 years.

Figure i is especially useful and can be found here. https://andymaypetrophysicist.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/younger_dryas_to_present_time_line.pdf  It does NOT smooth things out with a hockey stick at the end

And more humorously there is this. 

What are we to make of all this?

We need to be aware of superficial stories flying around whether from Climate Alarmists or Climate Deniers. In a sense they feed off each other.

The first cartoon simply is wrong as it presents climate change for 20,000 years as slow and gradual until the end of the 20th Century. That is simply false. It may be good for propaganda purposes but it is ultimately deceitful and undermines any concern for the problematic Climate Change of the present time. As with the porkies of anti-frackers this type of thing can only result in disillusionment.

The second two are more accurate , but the conclusion of the third saying that the Modern Warming is “nothing unusual” is simply wrong and dangerously so. As are the three projections in red ink. It is as daft as Patrick Moore twitter; @EcoSenseNow , an early member of Greenpeace, who argues that even higher CO2 concentrations will be a good thing. I consider that irresponsible.

It is tragic that the argument over Climate Change has got so polarised, but much of that has been due to extreme views of Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and Bill Mckibbin. They have been effective in convincing others to see everything in an apocalyptic way. This is seen in demonising all fossil fuels, making them the Great Satan. This prevents any realistic transition away from coal, through gas (fracked!) to something better in the future.

How to Starve Africa: Ask the European Green Party

A superb demolition of green double-think. They say they care for Planet and People yet put forward policies which don’t help the planet (ban fracking) and will kill lots of people.

Their irrational and immoral objection to GMO sums all this up

The Risk-Monger

There is a commonly shared neo-colonialist expression: The Europeans have the watches; the Africans have the time. Today, the European Green Party, with the support of countless environmentalist NGOs, proposed an initiative in the European Parliament to make Africa wait for at least another generation to be able to lift itself out of poverty.

The report tabled by Green MEP, Maria Heubuch, is as vile as it is selfish in its neo-colonialist demands to impose peasant agriculture on a continent trying to develop and feed itself. The Greens are demanding that the European Union not be involved with the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition which is donating billions to create a green agricultural revolution in ten of the poorest African countries. Many identify what has been achieved in Asia today as due to the World Bank’s investments in agricultural technologies in the 1960s and 70s and what is sorely…

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