Getting the shale message across
Jan 29, 2014
Bishop Hill in 28Gate, Climate: Parliament, Energy: gas

Owen Paterson was up in front of the Lords' Economic Affair Committee yesterday (video here, but it's a bit of a long haul to tell the truth). One of the concerns of their lordships was that the government is losing the propaganda war over the risks and benefits of shale gas. The minister was repeatedly pressed about what the government was going to do to sway public opinion once and for all and there was much talk of a lack of "joined up government".

Paterson made what I thought was a fairly obvious point which was that he, as a politician, was unlikely to be trusted anyway and he rather gave the impression that our political lords and masters feel powerless to change things.

To my mind much of the problem here lies with the media and in particular the fact that environmentalist journalists are usually responsible for covering the shale gas story. It's hard to imagine that the Guardian or the Independent are ever going to tell the truth about shale, not should we want the government to influence the free press, but the ongoing campaign against shale gas in many parts of the BBC and their consistent failure to allow meaningful questioning of the claims of environmentalists is another matter. The impression that the greens' 28gate coup continues to influence the corporation's output is hard to avoid.

After the most recent appearance of the 28gate story in the media I wrote to the Commons' Culture Media and Sport select committee asking for an inquiry into the links between environmentalists and the corporation. My request was turned down on the specious grounds that the committee was too busy.

Turning a blind eye to wrongdoing has got the BBC into trouble several times in recent years, and parliamentarians have not been slow to criticise these failures. So perhaps they might like to look at their own performance and ask whether the positive message on shale gas might not get out a lot faster if our national broadcaster wasn't so beholden to the greens.

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