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This story goes against any number of conventional wisdom stories, and also counter to trend elsewhere in Europe.First off the headline:

Furious MPs Round on DECC over Shale Gas

Not another protect us from controversial fracking and burning tap water story surely? They seemed to like what I, for one, told them for example. No, this is a unique story, where they oversight committee berates the bureaucrats and politicians (of their own party!)

Members of the influential Energy and Climate Change Committee, led by chairman Tim Yeo, rounded on Charles Hendry and Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) official Simon Toole.

Mr Hendry, minister for climate change and energy, was told by Mr Yeo a lack of transparency was ‘retarding rather than advancing’ the cause of shale gas.

The meeting heard shale had the potential to become a ‘game-changer’ in world energy markets – having already transformed the US from a major importer to an exporter of gas.

However, a lack of regulation and environmental scrutiny of shale, which the committee heard was twice as carbon intensive as coal, was not helped by DECC’s approach.

It gets better:

The committee was angered that DECC had carried out a behind closed doors investigation into shale without informing it.

Mr Yeo said: “The suspicion in the United States of the environmental impacts of shale gas has been greatly increased by the reluctance of the companies and, in some cases the regulators, to disclose to the public what’s actually happening.”

Mr Hendry, who apologised for not telling the committee, said: “I think if people see there are things going on behind closed doors, which they can’t understand and don’t know about they become suspicious often without warrant.”

Mr Yeo also asked why Cuaddrilla, the only business at the time investigating shale gas in the UK, was not consulted by DECC, he said: “It seems a bit strange the one company already started operating in this country was not asked for evidence.”

DECC licensing, exploration and development director, Simon Toole, was forced to admit he didn’t know who had been contacted for the ‘low key’ investigation and said it was an ‘oversight’ not to contact cuaddrilla.

Low key? Invisible is more like it. Funny how the UK’s number one supplier Centrica saw it! Not so surprising is this from their comments:

We do not see as any European unconventional gas as being a game changer for the next 10-15 years

The site could find the OIES and Chatham House reports that both say the same thing. They didn’t find me, but then they couldn’t find Cuadrilla either. I have to admit that Tim Yeo’s reputation as being one of the greenest Tory MPs, and his business interests in renewables, thought that we would get some kind of conventional wisdom whitewash out of this, but that seems to be what DECC wanted to achieve.

No Hot Air, 5 April 2011