Sunday, 24 March 2013

Informed Debate on Fracking

Fracking was one of the subject on the Sunday Politics today. I have written about fracking before, and my conclusions are that essentially we have to know that we are doing our best to protect the earth's resources and secondly we have to know that fracking is safe.

The spokesperson for Friends of the Earth had the same concerns. Could water contamination occur? Cuadrilla tell us that the chemical they use is non-hazardous but is that the answer to the question? What about the pollution that is caused by methane escaping into the atmosphere? It would appear, even at a glance, that many environmental problems have occurred due to fracking in America.

The spokesperson for Cuadrilla also told us that they weren't forcing chemicals into the ground as it was water and just one chemical. Now I know that water is a chemical and add another one then you get chemicals in the plural but the Cuadrilla spokesperson went on to tell us that if we needed proof that it was just one chemical then all we had to do was log on to the Environment Agency's website. That's a fairly impressive argument until you log on to the Agency's website and read "Operators should disclose, either on their own website or on third-party websites, the chemicals used in their fracturing fluid." Sounds like we are going round in circles.

On Cuadrilla's website they tell us that the fracturing fluid contains fresh water, sand, polyacrylamide friction reducer, hydrochloric acid, biocide and sodium salt. I'm not a chemist but I can count and this is more than one chemical plus water. If we can't get even get the number of chemicals right then what chance do we have about deciding whether safety is an issue?

The Friends of the Earth were also concerned that shale gas extraction would harm our efforts to cut carbon emissions and meet our climate change obligations. It may well be that compromises must be made but it would be nice to have an informed debate which includes how we are too meet our climate change targets. We need relevant information which is independent of the fracking company in order to judge the safety and value of fracking. Then we may get an informed debate.

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