A curious fact-finding travelogue

August 27th, 2015

An eagle-eyed reader has bought to our attention a curious overview of the recent South Australian ‘fact-finding’ tour to the United States.

We’ve written about that tour a couple of times (see here), but this one is just too good to let it pass.

The article contains a couple of claims that just can’t go unchallenged, including:

“A group of Australians who made a fracking fact-finding trip to the Marcellus Shale region will report to the Australian Parliament” – um, no, they won’t.

Individual members of the group will presumably document their experiences in submissions to the South Australian inquiry into unconventional gas development, but a trip to Canberra ain’t on the cards.

“(David) Smith reached out to Cabot Oil and Gas and other fracking companies in the region to set up a tour of fracking sites, but the industry declined permission for the group to view even a single location. Representatives were unwilling to address the group off-site as well. Only a public relations representative, Joe Massaro from the industry front group Energy In Depth, was made available to the group, according to Smith” – from what we have gathered, the group’s organisers didn’t try too hard to reach out to oil and gas companies prior to the trip, because that wouldn’t have suited their narrative.

The claim that Energy in Depth was ‘made available’ is only partly correct – in fact, Mr Smith rejected the first approach made by Energy in Depth to meet with the touring party, and it was only after other tour participants voiced their concern about the unbalanced itinerary that the Energy in Depth team was able to introduce the group to landholders and business owners who support the responsible development of shale gas resources across the Marcellus.

Our favourite part of the report is the video interview with SA Greens Leader Mark Parnell, who enthuses about the ‘top academics’ that the group has been given access to.

Those ‘top academics’ included the authors of some of the most debunked claims made against the gas industry.

We’ll watch with interest to see what the anti-industry parts of the touring party report back on their trip, and compare that with what those who asked for more balance to be introduced to the tour itinerary have to say.




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