At a packed fringe meeting on sunday night at Labour Party conference, l called the Mayor of London a “frack-head” as he suggested he ” ……would leave no stone unturned in London, to find shale gas”. He is also using the development of this new fossil fuel to cover his holes in delivering energy efficiency measures in our homes and missing his own planning targets for buildings getting their energy from decentralised sources.
But lets not forget the big environmental risks involved in shale gas as well. With water contamination there are potential high risks concerning groundwater & surface water contamination as the US Environment Protection Agency find increasing evidence of this while fracking has expanded considerably in the USA. As for air pollution, many air pollutants have been found near shale gas wells in the US, like non-methane hydrocarbons, 35 of them which can affect the brain and nervous system. Moreover emissions from shale gas wells can also cause photochemical smog increasing susceptibility to asthma. So not surprisingly Friends of the Earth believes that tougher regulations can make fracking safer, but it can’t make it safe.
As for jobs, whilst it may recreate many but its usually done at the expense of jobs in agriculture and tourism in the immediate locality of the tracking sites. Moreover, a future based on energy efficiency and renewable energy can provide more jobs. It is estimated that 71,000 new jobs can be created by 2015 with an energy efficiency programme and 400,000 with renewable energy by 2020.
As for climate change, shale gas is just another fossil fuel at the end of the day, and l’m not sure its going to help us with the challenges involved on this front.
So this dash for shale gas by the coalition government is similar to the mistaken dash for diesel that we have seen with vehicle emissions in recent time by the EU and others. One which we are back tracking from right now as the evidence mounts of its cost causing air pollution.
Finally l was glad to see that we had a People’s Climate March in Manchester on sunday afternoon after feeling bad about not being around for the London one, l went along to join it. During the march l did see one banner which caught my eye, saying ” Manchester – a city united against fracking”. Clearly the North-West is more worked up about the issue than we are in London. I hope we can say that London can be united against fracking as well in the near future.