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.

Lord Howell of Guildford on fracking

i Oct 21st No Comments by

Screen shot 2014-10-21 at 11.44.50In May this year, Lord David Howell published this short opinion piece on fracking, in the Journal of Energy Security.

He opens by saying that he had recently attended two key meetings, that between them “gathered just about all the expertise in the planet on shale oil and gas and fracking issues.”

And then he summarises the current situation, and lessons learned from the USA, before drawing five conclusions for fracking in the UK.

I’ve summarised his points below, though to be honest his piece is very short and you would likely be better off reading the whole thing here.

And what I think this means for us in Ryedale is:

  1. Ryedale must be very close to the top of the target list for fracking, since our population density is so low.
  2. They know fracking damages the water supply, and has other ‘environmental’ impacts, but they want to go ahead anyway.
  3. Fracking in the UK is currently only borderline achievable, physically, financially, and politically.
  4. They believe (or Lord Howell believes) that people have the potential to stop fracking in its tracks, physically, and economically, and politically.

Remember also that since this article/viewpoint was published,

i) Rather than trying to negotiate, the government has chosen the path of confrontation, seeking to impose fracking via the so called ‘Infrastructure Bill’,  currently before the House of Lords.

ii) Third Energy has made planning applications to NYCC to put in place some of the critical infrastructure without which it would not be able to frack.

(more…)

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

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)

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!

1407798295914_wps_1_shale_gas_how_they_cut_th

Source: Daily Mail

 

Summary of UK situation for Fracking

i Jul 31st No Comments by

Screen shot 2014-07-31 at 21.28.24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This July 2014 report by Scientists for Global Responsibility and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and  concludes:

In this briefing, we have summarised key evidence concerning the environmental, health and wellbeing, and socio-economic aspects of fracking for shale gas in the UK. In particular, we have critically examined some of the most common industry and government claims, drawing extensively on independent academic and expert literature. We have found several areas of concern.

Regulation of the industry in the UK is currently inadequate, although it is stricter than in the US, thus somewhat reducing the potential for local environmental impact by comparison. With technological advances and an improved regulatory environment, groundwater contamination risks could conceivably be reduced to an acceptable level, although there is much to do to reach that point. Furthermore, the requirement for vast quantities of freshwater (expected to become scarcer under climate change), which require road transportation, is unlikely to be resolved. Confidence in the practice is undermined by a series of disingenuous claims made by both the Government and industry.

Virtually all economic analysts refute the claim that fracking will reduce energy bills in the UK. Instead, it will lock us into continued reliance on fossil fuels and the increasingly volatile and expensive international gas market. Although fracking will generate jobs, job leakage is probable, and it may result in job losses in other industries, for example, agriculture and tourism. The job creation potential has been substantially exaggerated, and is also significantly less than that of the low-carbon energy sector, which itself may suffer from diversion of investment to shale gas. Community benefits have also been exaggerated, while the substantial policing costs do not generally feature in the discussion. There is also some evidence of house prices having fallen near fracking sites.

Given that, even without shale gas, proven global reserves of fossil fuels are five times higher than can be burned without risking a 2°C global temperature rise, the exploitation of shale gas is dangerous and unnecessary. It is true that, assuming minimal methane leakage, shale gas might have a lower carbon footprint than coal. However, in the absence of a global cap on emissions, the use of shale gas will undoubtedly be in addition to, not instead of, coal, and will therefore result in an overall increase in emissions. Until such a  constraint on emissions is in place, this problem remains unresolved.

You can read the full report here or download it here.

Health impacts — Risks and harms of fracking

i Jul 31st No Comments by

Screen shot 2014-07-31 at 21.09.21This very recent (July 2014) report by Concerned Health Professionals of New York State summarises the known health impacts of fracking.

The Executive Summary demonstrates evidence of risks, harms and associated trends” under the following headings:

  • Air pollution
  • Water contamination
  • Inherent engineering problems that worsen with time
  • Radioactive releases
  • Occupational health and safety hazards
  • Noise pollution, light pollution and stress
  • Earthquake and seismic activity
  • Abandoned and active oil and natural gas wells (as pathways for gas and fluid migration)
  • Flood risks
  • Threats to agriculture and soil quality
  • Threats to the climate system
  • Inaccurate jobs claims, increased crime rates, and threats to property value and mortgages
  • Inflated estimates of oil and gas reserves and profitability
  • Disclosure of serious risks to investors
  • Medical and Scientific calls for more study and more transparency

Unfortunately the document is a pdf so we cannot copy and paste it here. However, you can read it online here. Or download the document here.