UK Ad Agency Blasts Anti-Frackers For Spreading ‘Scaremongering’ Misinformation

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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An environmentalist group in the UK was warned Tuesday by an ad agency watchdog group to stop spreading misinformation claiming hydraulic fracking chemicals could pollute drinking water and cause cancer.

A spokesman for Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said Tuesday that Friends of the Earth’s (FOE) misleading ads about fracking’s supposed health risks “must not appear again in its current form” and that the group must “not make claims about the likely effects of fracking on the health of local populations, drinking water, or property prices in the absence of adequate evidence.”

The watchdog group conducted a year-long investigation after receiving complaints from energy firm Cuadrilla, which was given permission to frack for natural gas last year in Lancashire. FOE’s leaflets claimed 25 percent of chemicals used during the fracking process could cause cancer.

“Friends of the Earth’s repeated falsehoods have been exposed as nothing more than scaremongering designed to frighten the public into giving it money,” Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan, told reporters following the ad agency’s announcement.

FOE has agreed to discontinue its ads, but is committed to continuing campaigns against fracking in the UK, according to Donna Hume, a senior campaigner at FOE.

“We continue to campaign against fracking because burning fossil fuels is dangerous for the climate,” she said. “As well as that, the process of exploring for and extracting shale gas is inherently risky for the environment, this is why fracking is banned or put on hold in so many countries.”

The ads came shortly after the UK decided in November to lift its moratorium on fracking. Authorities overruled a local council to approve the first fracking operations since 2011.

The company behind the project expects to start drilling in the second quarter of 2017 — FOE claimed to have gathered more than 186,000 signatures on a petition to ban fracking in the country.

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