Fracking

One of my Facebook friends posted something on his page today about fracking, and it was pretty damming. Before I go on, and mindful that some won’t know what fracking is, as did I before the government announced in this current Parliament that it was something it intended to pursue, taking such measures as gaining powers to be able to drill under people’s properties. I suggest first check out this fact sheet, which is fairly balanced and informative. Another of my Facebook friends posted another link that suggested the two main Lib Dem leaders were effectively being nobbled by the fracking industry in order to lend support to the idea. While the accused have a right to reply, there is a justifiable fear that our leaders are sometimes in the pockets of vested interests rather than representing the interests of the people they should be serving.

Before I go on about my standard line to do with being balanced and the need to examine all angles, I thought I should lay out some of the salient arguments from both sides. Unsurprisingly, the Greens are pretty anti-fracking and, while I am not a Green convert (there are too many other issues I regard as important that they have yet to convince me on), I do feel when it comes to energy policy and protecting the environment they may have more good ideas and insights than the other political parties. And in order to a get a Green perspective, where better to start than ask the prospective Green candidate at next year’s General Election, for my own constituency, for his take on things? Simon Cross kindly replied:

Firstly, the fracking industry states that there are millions of tonnes of gas held in shale. The claim is that the chemicals and water are pumped so deep that they do not affect the water table. A report from what is now a ghost town in Michigan tells a different story as the water used has dried up all local aquifers and the local drinking water supply (some 350 million gallons) is polluted so badly it cannot be used by wildlife or people. The industry claims they will provide a cheap source of gas for homes and industry. This claim has proved valid until you look at the subsidies required to make this gas less expensive than other forms of gas. The profits from this form of gas extraction largely come from large US government subsidy. The industry claims that the gasses and process are safe to humans and the flora and fauna. Once again, we look to America for evidence. Firstly, we will not be made aware of the dangers of this process as there is no requirement to state what chemicals are used for the process. Secondly, towns in Arizona, Texas and Michigan have been made uninhabitable and plants no longer grow so there is evidence of soil destruction.

Finally, there was a poll taken of over 20,000 people where 99% said they were opposed to fracking which, when presented to government, was ignored. The government is pressing ahead and will allow fracking on land they do not own with minimal permission and no recourse to the owner. For me, this is the surest sign that the only people who want fracking are the government. To me, this looks very much like there will be profits but only for the government and their vested interests. New fossil fuels are a terrible retrograde step in a world where it is now widely acknowledged that carbon emissions are the greatest single threat to life. Fracking is probably very short termist and does not go any way to answering the long term requirements of people and businesses. Renewables, on the other hand, by their very nature, cause little if any environmental damage and would prove a better and long term solution for the cash invested.”

On the other side of the argument, the following impassioned plea for fracking was provided by London mayor, Boris Johnson (click here). While the Conservative led government is intent on pursuing fracking as a means to address some of this country’s energy needs, it is not without opposition, including from inside its own ranks – as this website shows. There is evidence of a growing groundswell of anti-fracking sentiment, not just by the nimby brigade but by thoughtful types concerned about the untoward effects of fracking. Against this, there is the issue of present high energy costs that has a marked effect on industry and domestic households alike, an unstable and uncertain world and the need to forge our own destiny rather than be beholden to forces we can’t control, a need to find alternative sources of energy given we are running out of fossil fuels, the effects of which it is argued have a damaging effect on the environment, and to plan for the future by having a long term energy policy, that for the current administration, includes fracking.

While I quite understand why there is an appeal to tapping into this new energy source, just as in my early days something similar happened with North Sea gas, I question at what cost and deplore once again the government pressing ahead with the scheme and, even if there is no corrupt motive, it hasn’t been done with full and proper consultation with the British people, an examination of all the facts, including a consideration of the alternatives, particularly renewable sources, and a full debate.

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