Archive for April, 2012
For the last year or so I was beginning to believe that our war against shale gas was going the right way. In just the last week, however, two separate pieces of news come along that lead me, depressingly, to think that may not be the case.
Regular followers of the Green Review (hi both) will be aware that I have been against fracking for some time now, and that this is not my first post on the subject. Fracking – the term used to mean hydraulic-fracturing – has time and again been proved to be destructive, causing earthquakes in Blackpool and polluting water sources in America – check out this video with the flaming tap at the end (it also gives a good explanation of why fracking is so destructive). It would also appear that Pennsylvania residents are being forced from their homes in the pursuit of shale gas.
In the year since I first wrote about my concerns over fracking, there seemed to be a general feeling of contempt for this ‘untapped energy source’ and I really couldn’t envisage a future for shale gas; the government even banned it for a time. However, the energy companies in keeping true to form have obviously spent this time lobbying the UK government hard and the government now seems to be caving under the pressure; not just the pressure from lobbying, but also the pressure from increasingly high energy prices. In the first of the articles I referred to in the title, this certainly appears to be the case:
The bit of news I’m talking about is a BBC story claiming the UK government may indeed be siding with the fracking companies. It says that the coalition will allow shale gas extraction and that it may “continue with checks”. What does that mean? A check could involve some clipboard-wielding government bureaucratic-type person turning up at a drilling site once a month and asking the foreman, “Any earthquakes today?”
“Nope,” replies the foreman.
“Any water pollution?”
“Nope,” replies the foreman again.
“Okay. Thank you very much,” says the government regulator as he puts two ticks on his clipboard and walks away. Checks complete.
Ok, so that may be a little far fetched but what I’m trying to say is that we need incredibly strict regulation on this industry, not ‘checks’. Our banking industry was ‘checked’ and looked what happened there.
Now, the second bit of news, which I’m sure is completely unrelated to the government’s recent decision (yeah, right), is that the UK “may have enough offshore shale gas to catapult it into the top ranks of global producers”. Admittedly this is in reference to offshore shale gas so many of the dangers posed to local water sources may not be an issue here. Nonetheless, the part of the story that got me was that they say we will have to wait for oil to hit $200 a barrel for it to be viable to set up the offshore industry. What!? Is that the government’s plan? Wait for energy prices to be so high that we can’t afford to heat our houses and then at that point – hooray! – the UK can once again be a player on the global energy market. What about renewable energy? What about energy efficiency? If we have the carrot of future energy self-sufficiency dangled in front of us, what incentive is there to strive for a clean energy future?
I just wonder how much of the money that could have been spent on building the UK a clean, renewable energy industry will instead now be spent on getting the offshore shale gas industry on its feet all ready for Dash For Gas part 2 … “this time it’s more expensive”.
Let’s not forget that shale gas is still a fossil fuel; the climate is still warming and we are still on the road to self-destruction. Now though, it seems that with our newly found energy savior we can forget about mitigating climate change because we can all look forward to future powered by gas. Again.
Am I wrong to feel like this? Should securing a future energy supply come above all else? What do you think?
If you have anything to say on this article, or indeed anything raised in The Green Review, please join the discussion on the facebook page. The more contentious the better…