Fracking report does not face the issues, say critics

By agency reporter
1 May 2012

A report on fracking for shale gas commissioned by the Department for Energy and Climate Change has been published, recommending that the drilling method be allowed to continue.

Green MP Caroline Lucas, who has tabled an Early Day Motion calling for a moratorium on the onshore and offshore exploration of shale gas, commented: "In focusing solely on the potential seismic effects of fracking, this report tells us nothing about the wider environmental impact of shale gas exploration - nor about the consequences of a new dash for gas on the future of renewable energy or on action to combat climate change.

She continued: "Growing evidence from the US suggests that there is serious cause for concern around water and air pollution caused by fracking."

Other parliamentarians and environmental activist and commentators are also expressing concern.

Ms Lucas declared: "Legitimate questions are now being raised by communities here in the UK around the effects on the local environment and on water resources, which are already stretched to capacity in many places.

"People living near to fracking sites deserve real answers, especially since a Tyndall Centre report cast doubt on the adequacy of current UK regulation to prevent groundwater and surface water contamination."

The Brighton Pavilion MP added: "Even aside from the local concerns, it's clear that shale gas is a last gasp of the dinosaur fossil fuel industry at a time when we should be moving towards a truly green economy.

"The UK is the richest country in Europe in terms of renewable energy potential, but this new focus on gas threatens to displace investment in those renewables, making it even harder to achieve our renewable energy targets and grow this jobs rich sector.

"It's also clear that large scale extraction of shale gas poses a real risk to our climate change commitments. We have a very short time to reduce emissions to levels consistent with the science, yet a number of studies have shown that the overall climate impact of shale gas is probably as great as that from coal.

"If carbon capture and storage technology is not in place, burning just 20 per cent of the gas which Cuadrilla claims to have found in its licence area in Lancashire would generate 15 per cent of UK's total CO2 budget to 2050.

"And despite claims from gas lobbyists that shale gas will bring down energy bills, we know from Ofgem and DECC that recent energy bill rises resulted mainly from high gas prices, while analysis from Deutsche Bank and Poyry concludes that the impact of shale on bills would actually be low.

"I therefore urge the Department for Energy and Climate Change to recognise that today's report does not tell the whole story, and to seriously reconsider its policy on shale gas in the UK so that we can finally make the genuinely green transition that will deliver both energy security and a cleaner environment," said Ms Lucas.

* Caroline Lucas and others debate Fracking on BBC TV 'Newsnight': http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FoFvtjQ0HAw

EDM 2292

That this house believes a moratorium should be placed on onshore and offshore exploration, development and production of Coal Bed Methane, Shale Oil and Shale Gas by withdrawing UK licences for hydraulic fracturing (fracking), at least until the publication of a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment into the practice; notes that hydraulic fracturing can cause the contamination of local water sources such as aquifers, which provide about 30 per cent of the UK's water; further notes that amongst a variety of adverse environmental impacts, the process of fracking can cause serious well blowouts, which put both workers and local communities at risk; does not consider that the production of hard to reach fossil fuels is compatible with efforts to achieve the statutory UK carbon budgets; and, therefore, urges the Government to instead give greater support to the generation of energy from renewable sources.

[Ekk/3]

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