UPDATED: Local councils invited to secret talks with fracking companies

i Apr 4th 1 Comment by

Concerned residents have revealed that fracking licence holder, INEOS has invited parish council representatives across Ryedale and York to a private meeting next month.

Details of the meeting, on May 11th in Malton’s Milton Rooms, appear in a leaked letter seen by Frack Free Ryedale. The meeting will take place behind closed doors with the public excluded from observing or contributing to the process of consultation.

Malton, Norton, Helmsley, Pickering and Kirbymoorside town councils and 10 parish councils in Ryedale have already passed motions against fracking, as has Ryedale District Council.

Ian Conlan, of Frack Free Ryedale, says: “Even some parish councillors, who are all volunteers, will be unable to attend because they have day jobs, and the wider public are being treated with utter contempt as they are completely excluded from this sham consultation.

“The meeting looks like it is little more than a slick PR exercise. Those councillors who are able to attend need to ask the many awkward questions about the real impact of fracking on local communities that INEOS hope to avoid by excluding the wider public.

“A key element of the INEOS presentation to the meeting will be to offer 4% of revenues to land owners who are willing to have a fracking site on their land and a further 2% to communities. It is interesting to note that payments in the United States range from 12% to 21% of revenues, so INEOS is also short changing the public in their effort to bribe people to accept fracking.”

Russell Scott, Frack Free North Yorkshire says: “This isn’t the first time councils have been offered private meetings in the area: it has taken our Freedom of Information request to reveal that Pickering Town Council has already met privately with Cuadrilla at an informal un-minuted private “briefing”.

“Given that it is Third Energy that hold the licence covering Pickering, it would suggest Cuadrilla, with their dreadful record in Lancashire, is looking to take over Third Energy’s P.R. and try to hoodwink councils just as INEOS are also looking to take over sites in the area.”

Cllr Paul Andrews says: “The amount paid to communities will never compensate individual householders and property owners for the loss in the value of their properties, blighted by fracking, or for the decimation of a tourist industry that relies on our reputation for beautiful unspoilt countryside.

“It will be of no comfort if the landscape is ruined with thousands of wells, water contaminated and lives disturbed by continuous drilling. All these things have happened in other areas, and recent research has now added cancer causing chemicals to the mix.

“INEOS should be turned away just as local district, town and parish councillors have said no to Third Energy’s plans at Kirby Misperton.”

Malton resident, Dr Liz Garthwaite says: “My town council in Malton gave short shrift to Third Energy. This issue has energised ordinary people who have never got involved in politics before, because it is their health that is threatened, as is displayed in a wealth of studies.

“It is exactly those ordinary people that this company shows contempt for. Let’s show them what local democracy is made of by demonstrating outside this meeting. If the public are excluded I think there are going to be a lot of empty seats inside this building, and rather more people protesting outside it.”

UPDATE: Here’s what Friends of the Earth Scotland had to say when Ineos launched a similar “lovebomb” PR campaign in their licence areas north of the border last year.

Four more reports on fracking

i Mar 31st No Comments by

The recently published Medact report on the health impacts of fracking mentions that “There are now over 450 peer-reviewed publications in this
field, consisting of studies, reviews and commentaries. “

Some of the key ones are the December 2014 review of evidence by the New York State Department of Health (already published on this site), plus four other reports not seen here before:

The evidence is very, very clear.

Anybody who ignores it is either:

a) unintelligent, or
b) lying, and
c) doesn’t care about the health of the people or the other negative impacts, which are now very well known and well documented.

Why frack in Ryedale?

i Oct 11th 1 Comment by

To the average person living or working in Ryedale, or indeed anybody who simply visits, the question must be, “Why would anybody want to frack here?”

IMG_6020[1]

The answer is that beneath this beautiful landscape lies the Bowland Shale — a formation of rock that runs right across the country, from Scarborough to Blackpool:

Click to read summar of British Geological Survey report

This report by the British Geological Survey into the potential recoverable gas content of the Bowland Shale (which in places is up to two miles thick) puts it very plainly:

“Estimates of technically recoverable shale gas resources… The figure of 20 trillion cubic feet (tcf) includes 19 tcf for the Bowland Shale and 1tcf for the Liassic shales of the Weald Basin [in Sussex].”

Screen shot 2014-09-29 at 13.59.26

In other words, the Bowland Shale is estimated to contain approximately nineteen twentieths (or 95%) of the recoverable shale gas in the UK.

Anybody who wants to get at that gas is likely to come to Ryedale and do a more detailed survey, AONB and National Park or not.

The other thing that might make Ryedale an attractive location to frack is our low population density.

This page of the North Yorkshire Police website says that “Ryedale has a population of 51,700 people living in 24,743 households and with 0.34 persons per hectare is ranked as having the 2nd lowest population density of all 326 local authorities in England.”

Screen shot 2014-10-11 at 20.06.45

That means fewer people to resist.

But it is still more than seven times* higher than the population density of North Dakota, where fracking has devastated farming.

And it also means that we care more. Because tourism and farming, the two industries that would be most affected by fracking, are the most important parts of our economy.

Two other industries that are smaller but are very important to all of us and would also be affected, are water (Yorkshire Water pumps drinking water from the aquifers beneath Ryedale) and estate agents (because of the effect of fracking on property values).

It is also slightly higher than the population density of County Fermanagh, where resistance to fracking has in some cases been intense, and where the environment minister recently rejected applications for exploratory drilling for fracking.

Just because you can. Doesn’t mean you should.


Sources:
British Geological Survey report into Bowland Shale
North Yorkshire Police website page on Ryedale
Wikipedia page on North Dakota (11.70 people per square mile (3.83/km2))
Wikipedia page on Ryedale (89 people per square mile (34/km2))
Wikipedia page on County Fermanagh (85 people per square mile)

North Dakota:

Screen shot 2014-10-11 at 20.28.22

 Ryedale:

Screen shot 2014-10-11 at 20.28.33

County Fermanagh:

Screen shot 2014-10-12 at 20.58.27

Why shale oil stocks are dropping in value

i Oct 11th No Comments by

Screen shot 2014-10-11 at 18.50.06

In the past three months ‘West Texas Intermediate’ oil has fallen from $105/barrel to $85/barrel. This has caused the stock price of shale oil companies to “tank”.

Here in Ryedale, the likelihood is that companies would be drilling for shale gas rather than oil and the prices of oil and gas are less tightly correlated than they used to be. But understanding how the shale oil market works can still help us to understand the implications for shale gas.

One reason that share prices of shale oil companies have fallen so far is that the companies now get less money for every barrel of oil they extract.

The other reason is the way shale companies are financed. (more…)

Myths and Facts on Fracking

i Sep 22nd No Comments by

FFR LogoI have been learning about fracking off and on for over a year now, and have been heavily involved in Frack Free Ryedale for just over two months.

I thought it would be useful to summarise some of the key learnings I have made during this time – a summary of the “myths and facts about fracking”, if you like.

I enclose it below, with links to some of the key sources I have found.

I hope it is a reasonably comprehensive and well-referenced source. (And it barely even begins to talk about the health impacts, or the volumes of traffic and water, or…).

Myth 1: Fracking is a 60-year-old, proven technology

Fact: The way fracking is currently being done is a new combination of four different technologies that has only been tried since 2007. There are still problems with it.

Source: http://tinyurl.com/q256zzf
(Dr Anthony Ingraffea, Professor of Engineering at Cornell University, talk to Sierra Club, March 2012)

Myth 2: Fracking is a ‘green’ fossil fuel

Fact: While it is true to say that burning methane (natural gas) obtained by fracking produces less carbon dioxide than burning coal, this is not the full story. During the drilling process, methane is also released into the atmosphere, or burned off by ‘flaring’. If these full impacts are considered, then the greenhouse gas / climate change impact of fracked gas is even worse than coal.

Source: http://tinyurl.com/qy8ewmj
(Dr Anthony Ingraffea, Professor of Engineering at Cornell University, talk to Sierra Club, March 2012)

Myth 3: Fracking is a cheap source of fuel

Fact: The price of solar electricity is falling fast. Citibank, UBS and other banks have recently issued reports advising investors to get out of fossil fuels. Citibank says that solar electricity will achieve “grid parity” even in Britain, by 2020. UBS, the world’s largest private bank, says big power stations in Europe could be redundant “within 10-20 years.”

Sources:
http://tinyurl.com/q5vo8mm
(“UBS urges investors to join renewables revolution”, Guardian, August 2014)
http://tinyurl.com/q8sorn2
(“Oil industry on borrowed time as switch to gas and solar accelerates”, Daily Telegraph, August 2014)
– http://tinyurl.com/kkemuhn
(“Solar has won. Even if coal were free to burn, power stations couldn’t compete”, Guardian, July 2014)

Myth 4: Fracking creates jobs

Fact: Fracking does create some jobs, in the oil and gas industry. These do not benefit local people. Friends in the USA (near the Canadian border) have described how the economy of their small rural town was affected when large numbers of single men moved in.

Fracking also destroys jobs. The main industries here in Ryedale are farming and tourism. Animals and crops in the USA have died after coming into contact with waste fracking water. And you can guess what the impact on tourism would be if there were eight fracking pads per square mile in Ryedale (which is standard, and which was requested in the planning applications for 3,000 wells in Sussex.)

Sources:
http://tinyurl.com/l3pqcap
(Website of frack-off (UK), section on Agriculture and Animal Health, September 2014)
http://tinyurl.com/kawlo87
(“Fracking’s Toll on Pets, Livestock Chills Farmers”, Bloomberg, February 2012)
http://tinyurl.com/k7dkeqm
(“Fracking frontline as Sussex has 15 licences to drill”, The Argus, December 2012)

Myth 5: Fluid migration from faulty wells is rare

Fact: Fluid migration from faulty wells is a well known long-term problem, with an expected rate of occurrence. About one in twenty wells fail in their first year of operation. With 8 well pads per square mile, and 6-20 wells per pad, that is a lot of failed wells. After 15 years 50% of wells will be leaking. And eventually all wells fail. A recent report in Pennsylvania listed 243 cases in six years where companies prospecting for fracking were found by state regulators to have contaminated drinking water.

Sources:
http://tinyurl.com/puo8b7h
(Dr Anthony Ingraffea, Professor of Engineering at Cornell University, talk to Sierra Club, March 2012)
http://tinyurl.com/ouv3pz7  http://tinyurl.com/l76ztgp
(“Online list IDs water wells harmed by drilling”, Wall Street Journal, August 2014)

Myth 6: Fracking only uses fluids you would find in most households

Fact: While many of the chemicals used in fracking are probably also found in households, the point is do you want them in your drinking water?

The fact is also that the USA has passed legislation forbidding people from disclosing what chemicals fracking companies use. And when the water is pumped out of the ground it contains a variety of heavy metal salts and radioactive elements that it has picked up underground. When these are pumped back underground they can cause earthquakes and contaminate drinking water.

Source:
http://tinyurl.com/chkk7cn
(Physicians for Social Responsibility website, June 2012)
http://tinyurl.com/q858ulo
(Catskill Mountaineer website, undated, viewed September 2014)

Myth 7: Fracking only causes tiny earthquakes

Fact: The process of fracking does cause small earthquakes. What causes bigger earthquakes is reinjecting the dirty fracking water back into ground, (in the same way that Third Energy is applying for planning permission to inject large amounts of waste water at Ebberston Moor near Pickering).

In Oklahoma, injecting waste fracking fluids is now causing hundreds of earthquakes per year, where there used to be very few. The largest so far registered 5.6 on the Richter scale and caused millions of dollars worth of damage. Could the roller-coaster at Flamingoland or the Temple of Winds at Castle Howard withstand a 5.6 earthquake?

Source:
http://tinyurl.com/mc7luak
(“Why fracking may be responsible for increased earthquakes in Oklahoma”, GlobalNews.ca, May 2014)

Myth 8: Fracking is good for the economy

Facts: The growth of fracking has been financed by debt, not profits: speculators are gambling on a return.

In the meantime, the reality for people who own homes close to actual or proposed fracking sites in the UK is that house values have plummeted dramatically. The value of one woman’s house in Lancashire fell by 70% as a result of a nearby proposed fracking site. When the government was called upon to publish its own report into the likely effect of fracking on house prices and rural communities, it blanked out all of the key predictions.

Sources:
http://tinyurl.com/kp3dbek
(“Drillers Piling Up More Debt Than Oil Hunting Fortunes in Shale”, Bloomberg, September 2014)
http://tinyurl.com/lyjzp9d
(“Fracking threat wiped £535,000 off my home’s value”, Daily Mail, August 2014)
http://tinyurl.com/ps99xwj
(“The fracking cover-up: Defra censors key report 63 times in 13 pages”, Daily Mail, August 2014)

And a last-minute addition: on why fracking is a ponzi scheme: http://tinyurl.com/olhwbe3
(“Shale Fracking is a “Ponzi Scheme””, GlobalResearch.ca, September 2014)

And here’s a list of just some of the people and animals harmed so far by fracking:
– http://tinyurl.com/6oz29yq
(“Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Water and Air, Dedicated citizens fighting to protect our most valuable resources”, September 2014)

Fracking threat “wiped £535,000 off my home’s value”

i Aug 26th No Comments by
Diana Westgarth's house valuation drops by 70%

Diana Westgarth’s house valuation drops by 70%

The potentially massive impact of fracking on property prices was the focus of an article in the Daily Mail. Diane Westgarth’s home is on the Flyde Peninsula in Lancashire, just 300 yards from a potential fracking site. In 2012 the property, which includes two and a half acres of land, was valued at £725,000. However, when she had it recently revalued, the new valuation was only £190,000. And two other estate agents would not even offer a price, because the possibility of fracking meant that they couldn’t be sure it would be worth anything at all.

This is not an isolated incident. The article also cites examples from homeowners near Blackpool and in West Sussex, both of which are potential fracking sites, whose homes are now worth next to nothing. Find out more about how fracking can affect the price of your home in the full whole Daily Mail article.

This follows on from the revelation that the government censored a recent report on the effect of fracking 63 times, including information about the effect on property prices.

Five hidden costs of fracking

i Aug 22nd No Comments by
Fracking in McKittrick, California.

Fracking in McKittrick, California.

News articles about fracking often focus on perceived benefits and ignore the costs. The vision of an energy-independent Britain, free of the growing problems of overseas fuel dependency, is deeply alluring. However, many people don’t realise than if fracking were to take hold in the UK, the gas wouldn’t all be ‘ours’ to use as we please – it would have to be sold on the open market, just like any other commodity, and would be sold to the highest bidder. Indeed, many other countries such as France are already lining up to buy fracked UK gas if it ever materialises.

Furthermore, as is being increasingly reported in financial newspapers and blogs, problems are emerging with the shale narrative. An article in the Guardian Economics Blog identifies five hidden costs to fracking: economic risk; local environmental cost; global environmental cost; social cost, and opportunity cost. To find out what these are, please read the article by clicking here.

The fracking cover-up: Defra censors key report 63 times in 13 pages

i Aug 13th 1 Comment by

A freedom of information request to read Defra’s internal report on the impacts of fracking has let us find out what the government really thinks.

Problem is, the short (13-page) report contained 63 sections that were blanked out.

These include:

  • “Three major social impacts on rural communities” — blanked out
  • “Impact on house prices” — blanked out
  • “Impacts already experienced by communities near fracking sites” — blanked out
  • “Impact on businesses and business rates” — blanked out

Only three paragraphs of the Conclusions survived. Even the name of the author was removed.

Most bizarrely, officials claimed that there was a “strong public interest” in withholding the information … from the public!

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Source: Daily Mail