The Plastic Hippo

December 19, 2015


Whiter shale of paid

Whiter shale of paid

I freely admit that I have absolutely no idea if the process of extracting shale gas and oil using hydraulic fracturing is either economically viable or environmentally safe.

Mercifully, this shocking ignorance is quite rare as the rest of the planet is divided into those who are convinced of the definition of “viable” and others who are certain of the definition of “safe”. Even sensible “experts” not usually prone to the smooth hyperbole of drilling companies or the hysterical claims of anti-fracking campaigners seem divided. Some say; “Yup…it`ll probably work” but others remark; “Hmm…I dunno…needs more research.”

So who will help us to resolve this dilemma? Why none other than our marvellous government who have granted more fracking exploration licences predominantly in the north of England. Well in my mind at least, that`s settled the argument once and for all. After five years in coalition and just seven months with a majority, the policy decisions and legislation introduced by our marvellous government are indications of motive and competence. If the marvellous government have decided that fracking is a good thing; then it is blind, bleeding obvious that fracking must be mad, bad and dangerous.

Oddly, a few days before the permission to drill under National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Beauty was granted, the marvellous government was congratulating itself on signing up to the COP21 accord to “aim” to reduce carbon emissions. At the same time, it has reduced subsidies to solar energy just as that industry was becoming established and local councils are continuing to block planning applications for wind turbines. Nothing chills the Tory heart quite like the prospect of cheap, renewable energy when there is still a lot of expensive, dirty fossil fuel to exploit.

The closure of the last remaining deep mine working in the UK, along with the end of steel manufacture on the Tees and the Clyde, is more to do with market forces rather than saving the planet. The coal will still be burnt, but it is cheaper to import it from China than dig it up a few miles from a power station or a steel mill. At least the miners and steel workers will no longer do a job that shreds lungs and ruins the joints were bones meet. If they are lucky, they can find unskilled work on a zero hour contract below the minimum wage at some warehouse run by parasitic profiteers like Sports Direct. But then again; maybe not.

The drilling companies continue to make ridiculous claims that there is enough shale gas to keep the UK self-sufficient in energy for 50 years and that its extraction will result in an economic boom. Minor earthquakes like the one near Blackpool are apparently caused by the full moon and by upsetting the giant trolls that inhabit the caves of Lancashire. Green eco-warriors still talk of fire coming out of kitchen taps and arsenic filling the water table and entering the river system. A word of advice; stick to the facts, guys. Every exaggerated claim of prosperity or doom will be dismissed as nonsense along with any valid reasons for or against. Leave it to people who know what they are talking about and that definitely does not include the marvellous government.

Rather than rushing headlong into turning the geology below the North Yorkshire Moors and the Peak District into a Swiss cheese, it would be a good idea to run a couple of pilot schemes to monitor contaminants and seismic activity. Two sites in or near the shale beds would ideal.

I`m sure the constituents of Tatton in Cheshire and Witney in Oxfordshire wouldn`t mind a bit of fracking.

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