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.

Academics cast doubt on shale gas

i Mar 10th No Comments by

Academics from Warwick Business School and University College London have published an opinion piece based on research funded by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC).

They advise policymakers that, for continuing economic, social and environmental reasons, the UK’s gas strategy should be developed on the assumption that there will be no domestically produced shale gas.

They say that recovery of UK shale gas (while still keeping within two degrees of climate change)  might only be an option if ten conditions apply.

Summarising, these conditions include:

  1. That there is recoverable shale gas under the UK. (Our difficult geology make make this too difficult or costly.)
  2. That we produce zero electricity using coal after 2025.
  3. That there is widespread cheap technology to capture and store the CO2 that would be produced.
  4. That we are able to measure and manage the methane that is released during shale gas production.
  5. That the fracking industry wins the ‘social licence to operate’ from the people of Britain, because we trust the companies to avoid or control the negative environmental impacts that exist.

Given that Deutsche Bank (and others) is already saying that solar power has won, these conditions seem increasingly unlikely to be met. (In some countries, such as Australia, solar electricity is already less than half the retail price of electricity from the power companies. Within two years it expected to reach ‘grid parity’ in around 80% of countries worldwide.)

You can read more about the academics’ report at: http://phys.org/news/2015-03-shale-gas-uk-low-carbon-transition.html

Government pledges £36m to boost shale gas industry

i Dec 5th No Comments by

frack-this-poster-by-betsey-marcus[1]

Chancellor George Osborne’s final Autumn Statement said the government would be “taking steps to ensure that the UK leads the way with shale gas regulation” by allocating £31 million in funding for “sub surface research test centres” as well as £5 million in funding to better engage with the public on the shale industry’s regulatory process.

The test centres, to be funded through the Natural Environment Research Council, will produce research relevant to both the shale and carbon capture and storage industries, the statement said.

The government will also fund a £5 million drive to “ensure the public is better engaged” with the shale development regulatory process through independent evidence on “the robustness of the existing regulatory regime”.

In addition, Osborne confirmed plans to establish a long-term investment fund for communities in the north of the country hosting shale development using revenue from shale tax to ensure that the economic benefit to the area continues for generations.

So the government are cutting public spending to its lowest level since the 30s, but have given the shale gas industry £36 million of taxpayers’ money. Sounds fair …

Read more in Utility Week – amazingly, hardly reported in the mainstream press. Actually, not that amazing …

Balcombe residents lose high court injunction

i Dec 5th No Comments by

_73582239_73582168[1]Balcombe anti-fracking campaigners have lost a High Court bid to block further exploration for oil and gas exploration in their West Sussex village. A residents’ group from Balcombe claimed the planning permission granted to energy company Cuadrilla to carry out testing was unlawful.

Permission for the site at Lower Stumble was granted in May this year. At a two-day hearing in London last month the Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association (FFBRA) argued the decision to grant planning permission was flawed by “errors of law”.

Read more on the BBC website and on ITV.com.

Oil and gas industry fund ‘independent’ task force

i Oct 25th No Comments by
(Illustration by Patrick Lynch)

(Illustration by Patrick Lynch)

The risks and benefits of fracking for the UK are to be examined by an “independent” task force, led by the former head of the Environment Agency, Lord Chris Smith. The task force is to be funded by shale gas companies, including Cuadrilla, Centrica and Total.

Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Tony Bosworth said: “This looks like another attempt by the shale gas industry to buy respectability. If they think that opponents of shale gas, nationally and locally, who are rightly concerned about its impacts, will be convinced by an industry-funded body then they have badly misjudged. Rather than putting their money into bodies like this, the industry should engage in genuine debate with local communities.”

Lord Smith said “The funders have no influence over what we look at or what we do.”

No, of course they don’t, Chris. They’re just funding this “independent” study out of the goodness of their hearts. Seriously, how gullible do they think we are?

Read the full article in the Guardian.

Any substance? Seriously?!

i Oct 19th No Comments by

A hydraulic fracturing operation near Mead, ColoradoA late amendment has been added to the Infrastructure Bill, which is being debated in the House of Lords, which would permit the “passing any substance through, or putting any substance into, deep-level land” and gives “the right to leave deep-level land in a different condition from [that before] including by leaving any infrastructure or substance in the land”.

Yes, you read that right. Any substance. Which of course is intended to mean that any fracking waste fluid can just be dumped under the ground without any independent monitoring or oversight.

However, due to the loose wording of the bill, this could also mean the disposal of nuclear waste too. (Interestingly, part of the deal the British Government did with France for the new nuclear plant in Somerset included a contract to dispose of the French company EDF’s nuclear waste here in the UK.)

This controversial bill, which already allows fracking companies to drill under people’s homes and land without permission, has been criticised from all sides, but they carry on regardless. The final reading of the bill will be in March, so we need to make sure this becomes a key election issue.

For more on this, please read the Guardian article.

Crawberry Hill extension granted amid controversy

i Oct 3rd No Comments by
Anti-fracking protesters outside County Hall in Beverley

Anti-fracking protesters outside County Hall in Beverley

East Riding councillors have approved an extension to existing planning permission at Crawberry Hill to allow Rathlin Energy to complete controversial exploratory test drilling for oil and gas at the site. Rathlin had requested a two-year extension to the original approval, granted in 2010. However, the council’s planning committee agreed to give the company another 12 months to complete the test drilling, as well as another six months to restore the site to its previous condition.

The 11-1 vote in favour of the extended deadline was greeted with cries of “Shame” from protestors in the public gallery at County Hall in Beverley. Many more local protestors were locked out of the proceedings, and the meeting was overshadowed by controversy surrounding the number of objections, many of which had not even been processed before the Planning Committee made its recommendation.

To add insult to injury, Rathlin presented the local protestors with three owl nest boxes, which would obviously compensate for another 18 months of noisy, smelling drilling and an uncertain future. Not.  Read a report of the whole sorry experience on the HEY Frack off blog.

Sham government consultation ignores 99% of responses

i Sep 27th No Comments by
"Consultation, what consultation?"

“Consultation, what consultation?”

The Government have decided to press ahead with their plans to frack below UK citizens’ homes without their permission after ministers decided to ignore the results of a DECC consultation about the new trespass laws.

There were a total of 40,647 responses to a consultation on the move to give oil and gas companies underground access without needing to seek landowners’ permission, with 99% opposing the legal changes. Setting aside the 28,821 responses submitted via two NGO campaigns, 92% of the remaining responses objected to the proposals.

The UK government argued that the current ability for people to block shale gas development under their property would lead to significant delays and that the legal process by which companies can force fracking plans through was costly, time-consuming and disproportionate.

Good to see democracy alive and well in the UK, isn’t it? You wonder why they bothered asking us in the first place. Read more about this disgraceful decision in the Telegraph or the Guardian, and watch a news report on this on YouTube.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, ministers are demanding the right to decide for themselves.

Scotland’s energy minister, Fergus Ewing, said: “UK government proposals to remove the right of Scottish householders to object to drilling under their homes, without so much as debate in the Scottish Parliament, flies in the face of Scotland’s cautious, considered and evidence-based approach on this issue.”  Read more on the BBC website or in the Scottish Daily Record.

 

Fracking industry will be minimally regulated in UK

i Sep 23rd 1 Comment by
Fracking in McKittrick, California.

Fracking in McKittrick, California.

The Government has repeatedly claimed that there would be a ‘gold standard’ of regulation for the fracking industry. However, letters obtained by the Guardian show that the industry will be minimally regulated, there is confusion within the government about which department is responsible, and that no government body has overall control over the industry.

This week Cuadrilla announced they had discovered 200tr cu ft of shale gas below Lancashire, and is hoping to drill thousands of gas wells. However, local residents, environmentalists and engineers fear that shale gas extraction could potentially devastate water supplies near where fracking takes place, because methane or chemicals used in the process could leak into ground water.

Robert Howarth, professor of ecology and environmental biology at Cornell University, called for a moratorium on drilling: “The best evidence indicates widespread contamination of drinking water wells within 1km of gas wells. A moratorium is necessary to step back and better study the risks to water quality, air quality, and global warming.”

Read the full details in the Guardian article.

And it’s also interesting to read George Monbiot’s comments on the role of climate change minister Charles Hendry.

Labour attempts to strengthen regulation of UK fracking industry

i Aug 26th No Comments by
A fracking operation in Colorado, USA.

A fracking operation in Colorado, USA.

The Labour party believes the rules covering fracking are not tight enough and will attempt to strengthen regulation of the controversial drilling method by tabling a series of amendments to the infrastructure bill in the House of Lords.

The opposition wants to see well-by-well disclosure of the fracking fluid being pumped into the well, baseline monitoring of methane levels in the groundwater, and environmental impact assessments for all fracking sites.

The government argues that these are covered in voluntary agreements with energy companies. However, Labour said commitments from the industry were not strong enough to reassure the public. “If the government agrees these measures are a good idea they should sign them into law, simple as that,” said a Labour spokesman.

Read the full article here.