January 6 2017
Jillian Kay Melchior
A British advertising watchdog this week rebuked Friends of the Earth, saying the green group must not make claims about fracking “in the absence of adequate evidence.”
The controversy began when the British energy company Cuadrilla issued a complaint to the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority, saying the green group’s leaflet was full of false claims.
The business media outlet Kallanish Energy reported:
[The Advertising Standards Authority] noted [Friends of the Earth] was unable to support claims chemicals used in fracking were dangerous to humans, and that a fracking site in the U.S. caused an increase in asthma – a risk Britain would also be exposed to — it had claimed. Other advertisements suggesting fracking would result in house prices falling and increased risks of cancer are no longer allowed to run again.
And the BBC summarized some of the problems:
FOE had claimed 25% of chemicals used during the fracking process could cause cancer, and suggested there was a risk of contamination to drinking water.
The leaflet also featured a photo of Grasmere in the Lake District, despite there being no plans for fracking in the area.
After a 14-month investigation, the watchdog informally resolved the complaint,
with Friends of the Earth agreeing not to repeat the untrue or misleading claims, including unsubstantiated comments “about the likely effects of fracking on the health of local populations, drinking water, or property prices.”
The ad authority’s reprimand is well-deserved. The public deserves to make decisions about energy and environmental issues based on fact and sound science, not falsehood and propaganda.