Feeds

Fracking fears are 'hot air': MPs

Just keep an eye on it

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

A Parliamentary enquiry into shale gas exploration in the UK has decided it should be regulated, but not banned. Many of the safety concerns were overblown and, in the words of the Greener-than-thou select committee chairman Tim Yeo MP: "Hot air".

Environmentalists claimed that "fracking", or rock fracturing, one of the older techniques used in shale gas exploration, posed a threat to aquifers several thousand feet above the fracturing. The claim has never been substantiated, but there's a powerful range of lobbying interests ranging from conventional gas suppliers (Gazprom), the nuclear industry, and (some but not all) climate campaigners, who are keen to see it thwarted.

"Regulations in the UK are stronger than in the States and should stop anything of the sort from happening here," said Yeo, an MP with personal interests in renewable energy. "There appears to be nothing inherently dangerous about the process of 'fracking' itself and as long as the integrity of the well is maintained shale gas extraction should be safe."

In other words, there's a risk – but it's a risk that can be managed by regulation – and when it is, the positives outweigh the costs. Positives include greater energy independence, lower carbon emissions where gas power generation replaces coal, and lower energy costs. Lower energy costs, in turn, help lift millions out of poverty and create jobs.

During the enquiry phase, MPs heard from a range of groups, including the WWF (formerly the World Wildlife Fund) which argued that "the majority of the world's fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground". Campaigners' claims that fracking was a new technique were dismissed by experts. Professor Selley of Imperial College London described fracking as "old as Moses, [it] has been used in the petroleum industry for decades".

An Oscar-nominated documentary called Gaslands made much of a householder's flaming taps, where methane in the water could be ignited from the tap. A geological survey showed the methane came not from the fracking, but the householder's waste.

The MPs visited the USA and concluded that:

"Any instances of methane contamination of groundwater were either blamed on poor well construction (an issue that applies to conventional as well as unconventional hydrocarbons) or were thought to pre-date any hydrofracking activity."

So while Gaslands might have raised "awareness" (a word beloved by Greens) of shale – some people will believe anything so long as it conforms to a Doomsday, man-harms-nature narrative – it may ultimately have damaged the campaign.

You can find a summary here and the full report here. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST
Speculation rife, but Orbital claims it's too early to tell
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
NASA: Spacecraft crash site FOUND ON MOON RIM
'What fun!' exlaims NASA boffin who found the LADEE
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.