Is there a case for fracking?

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fracking_stationWhere is our sense of urgency? David Cameron has said that “Fracking for shale gas is good for our country…it is our duty to get on with it, especially in view of the Ukrainian crisis.” Last week, sounding frustrated, Cameron asked “Why is it taking us so long, compared with the USA?” Good question, Dave. Well, now the House of Lords Committee has answered him. Repeating the prime minister’s insistence that getting on with fracking is “an urgent national priority,” the committee confesses to being “disappointed” that we’re not proceeding apace. They blamed “complicated regulations” and insisted that these must be simplified.

Another cause of the delay is the persistence of well-organised opposition from “Greens” – the usual suspects – people who claim to care for the environment while defacing it with all those useless and expensive windmills. This is scandalous. Lord Lawson said recently in his Bath Lecture, “Britain’s energy policy is resulting in a huge transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich, through subsidies to wealthy landowners to allow wind turbines on their property. Because these are inefficient, poorer people are further impoverished by having to pay sky high prices for their electricity supply.”

As we have come to expect, the Greens have concocted a ragbag of spurious arguments against fracking. They claim that it pollutes the water supply. But there have been no cases of pollution to aquifers or ground water in many thousands of fracks in the US, as drilling goes down more than a mile, well below any water relevant geology.

Those scaremongering film clips of flaming taps have nothing to do with fracking. Such a phenomenon has been noted in the USA in a few areas since at least the 1920s. Water reservoirs and bore holes can have pockets of methane from decaying algae, bacteria or from natural seepage. This is a natural process and harmless.

Even more absurdly, the Greens say fracking causes earthquakes. Fracking is an explosive process which has been used in oil wells for seventy years, and generates tiny earth tremors of 1 or less on the Richter scale. Negligible. The so-called Blackpool earthquake was of this order of intensity – like a lorry passing your house – and was due, as it happens, to the frack taking place near a small geological fault. This does occasionally happen, and when it does it’s a good thing for it relieves building pressure in a fault. so reducing the likelihood of a more major quake.

What about alleged disturbance from all the lorries that will be needed in the process? Answer: there will be no disturbance. Once fracked and tapped, the well requires little further attention. The whole fracking process need take no more than eight or nine weeks, then all the kit is removed, the area re-landscaped and all that remains is a tap! Compare that to the horrors of wind farms with their monstrous eco-crucifixes there for decades.

Drilling into shale bedrock is going to release more gas and oil than the world has ever seen. It has already resurrected the US economy and transformed the political balance of power throughout the world. For America is no longer dependent on an energy supply from the unstable Middle East and in fact has become a net exporter of energy. You would think the fracking revolution would please the Greens because it reduces carbon emissions too. It’s a no-brainer. Either we get on with it pronto or we’re all going to be left asking that old question, “Where were you when the lights went out?”

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