I read the news today, oh boy…
An energy firm which has been test drilling for controversial “shale gas” in Lancashire has said it has found vast gas resources underground.
Cuadrilla Resources began testing for gas on the Fylde Coast in March, using a technique known as “fracking”. […]
Click here to read the full BBC article.
I have already posted an earlier article which details the process of fracking and the long-term environmental devastation it has already caused across America and beyond.
Basically, if you were ever looking to systematically pollute vast tracts of land, then you’d struggle to beat the process of fracking. It goes like this: take huge quantities of freshwater, mix in a secret and highly toxic cocktail of chemical ingredients, and then inject it into the ground under high pressure. The results are impressive, as this recent article in The New York Times shows:
With hydrofracking, a well can produce over a million gallons of wastewater that is often laced with highly corrosive salts, carcinogens like benzene and radioactive elements like radium, all of which can occur naturally thousands of feet underground. Other carcinogenic materials can be added to the wastewater by the chemicals used in the hydrofracking itself.
While the existence of the toxic wastes has been reported, thousands of internal documents obtained by The New York Times from the Environmental Protection Agency, state regulators and drillers show that the dangers to the environment and health are greater than previously understood.
The documents reveal that the wastewater, which is sometimes hauled to sewage plants not designed to treat it and then discharged into rivers that supply drinking water, contains radioactivity at levels higher than previously known, and far higher than the level that federal regulators say is safe for these treatment plants to handle.
Other documents and interviews show that many E.P.A. scientists are alarmed, warning that the drilling waste is a threat to drinking water in Pennsylvania. Their concern is based partly on a 2009 study, never made public, written by an E.P.A. consultant who concluded that some sewage treatment plants were incapable of removing certain drilling waste contaminants and were probably violating the law.
The Times also found never-reported studies by the E.P.A. and a confidential study by the drilling industry that all concluded that radioactivity in drilling waste cannot be fully diluted in rivers and other waterways.2
Click here to read the full article.
And here is a short documentary film made by Earth Focus and UK’s Ecological Film Unit, who looked into the effects of natural gas development in the Marcellus Shale of the Appalachian Basin, North-East America:
A word of caution though, because if you feel angered or worried about any of this, then do be careful how you raise your objections. Some in America, who have expressed opposition, are now being treated as eco-terrorists:
As for Britain, exploratory drilling around Blackpool was suspended due to earthquakes, and an announcement is expected in the next thirty days as to whether permission will be granted for further fracking:
A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said it had to ensure any operations which went ahead were properly regulated.
“We welcome the news that Cuadrilla believe there to be good quantities of gas contained in the shale covered by their licence,” he said.
From the same BBC news report.
The DECC spokesman also told the BBC that “nothing will temper the government’s firm and unbending commitment to safety and environmental protection”. Nothing that is, except money and influence perhaps…
Prior to his appointment at Riverstone, Lord Browne, who was also a non-executive director of Goldman Sachs, had spent 41 years working for BP, having been appointed as Chief Executive in June 1995. Indeed, he was the immediate predecessor to the much reviled Tony Hayward, who assumed the position of CEO after Lord Browne’s forced resignation from BP in May 2007. So could Lord Browne have been culpable in any way for what was to occur just a few years later in the Gulf of Mexico?
In July 2010, just a few months after the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Tom Bower wrote this about Lord Browne:
Last Monday, amid the elegant surroundings of Dartmouth House in London’s Mayfair, Lord Browne of Madingley, the dapper former chief executive of BP, gave a lecture about ‘inspiration and vision in business’.
At ease in front of 60 hand-picked guests, the ultra-smooth tycoon shrugged off all personal responsibility for the company’s unfolding catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.
In his article, entitled “Return of Lord Oil Slick: Why has Cameron handed this Labour luvvie such a key job?”, Bower continues:
After his appointment as BP boss in 1998, Lord Browne swiftly transformed the firm from a dying oil corporation with just two fields – in Alaska and the North sea – into the world’s second largest behemoth.
By re-focusing on so-called ‘elephants’ (the big oil reservoirs) and ruthlessly cutting costs, his mastery of financial engineering used BP’s rising share price to launch audacious take-overs of failing oil companies, especially in America.
His success earned worldwide plaudits.
After re-branding BP as ‘Beyond Petroleum’ – the world’s most environmentally friendly oil company – he boasted during visits to Washington that BP was not only the largest producer of oil in America, but also the most successful explorer in the Gulf of Mexico, one of the most difficult places to extract oil. […]
Success depended on BP earning high profits, which could be used to set up a merger with Shell. Lord Browne went for broke by cutting costs.
His philosophy was ‘more for less’: operations would be completed at a cost that was 10 per cent cheaper than the previous time, and so on.
Taking his cue from New Labour, targets became the Holy Grail. In July 2000, he announced that production would annually grow over three years by 5.5 to 7 per cent, mostly in the Gulf of Mexico and Angola.
This optimism was hailed and BP’s share price soared. But, in fact, BP’s growth turned out to be only 2.9 per cent and BP could hit its targets only by more ruthless cost-cutting.
Hundreds of engineers were sacked. Budgets for safety and maintenance were slashed. Skilled oil men resigned in disgust.
Bower’s catalogue of criticisms and failures goes on and on. Click here to read more.
1 From an article entitled “Shale gas firm finds ‘vast’ gas resources in Lancashire” published by BBC News on September 21, 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-14990573
2 From an article entitled “Regulation Lax as Wells’ Tainted Water Hits Rivers”, written by Ian Urbina, published in The New York Times on February 26, 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/27/us/27gas.html?pagewanted=all
3 From an article entitled “Return of Lord Oil Slick: Why has Cameron handed this Labour luvvie such a key job?”, written by Tom Bower, published in the Daily Mail on July 3, 2010. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1291663/Return-Lord-Oil-Slick-Why-Cameron-handed-Lord-Browne-key-job.html