It is “highly probable” that shale gas [fracking] test drilling triggered earth tremors in Lancashire, a study has found.
reads the BBC news update on plans to begin fracking in Lancashire.
In short, the British Geological Survey have recently determined that the epicentres of two earth tremors (in April and May) were located approximately half a kilometre from one of the fracking wells, which at least establishes the next to certain cause; although the same report, that was, remember, “commissioned by energy firm Cuadrilla”, then helpfully dismisses concerns from environmentalists on the basis that the combination of geological factors were rare, and that:
“If these factors were to combine again in the future local geology limits seismic events to around magnitude 3 on the Richter scale as a worst-case scenario.”
In response to which, The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) assures us:
“The implications of this report will be reviewed very carefully – in consultation with the British Geological Survey, independent experts, and the other key regulators, HSE and the Environment Agency – before any decision on the resumption of these hydraulic fracture operations is made.”
Although it’s not that a few earth tremors are really much of a problem in any case, but rather, minor symptoms of a deeper malaise. Fracking is itself the problem, and one that rather perfectly illustrates why so many things are wrong today.
In the future we will ask, “how did we come to this?” To the deliberate injection of billions of gallons of highly toxic fluids into our precious land, especially as we already know that these poisons are leached back into rivers, into the soil and, perhaps most worryingly, directly into our water supplies. Plainly, this is madness. But what’s crazier is that in our topsy-turvy world, such a hugely inefficient and polluting ‘new technology’ continues to be promoted and justified as a ‘green alternative’. And to get a clearer idea of what a disgustingly dirty and highly dangerous process fracking is, I point you to earlier posts here and here (which have relevant links throughout).
Meanwhile, in America, the birthplace of fracking, the government now seems intent to press ahead with 20,000 or more gas wells in the Delaware River Basin; a watershed which serves New York city.
Josh Fox, the film-maker who produced the acclaimed documentary Gasland, is leading the call for sanity:
The crucial decision to frack or not to frack the Delaware is in the hands of President Obama and the Governors of Delaware and New York. We need you to take charge and push them to do the right thing.
I have travelled all over this world, in over 30 states in the USA, to Africa, to Europe, Asia and Australia and one thing is clear: Fracking is not only one of the most destructive forms of extreme energy development, creating water contamination, horrific and hazardous air pollution and a health crisis, it is a world wide scourge that pushes us farther away from the renewable energy future that we need.
Now the fight comes back to my home, the Delaware River Basin, where it started for me. But this fight isn’t about me. It’s about the drinking water for 16 million people that the Delaware River provides.
Click here for the Save The Delaware campaign site.
As a single measure of just how sick our political and economic systems have become, you’d be doing well to find a better one than the rise and spread of fracking. It shows how money and influence can entirely trump all legal restriction and regulation. Of how our governments serve corporations first and last. Whilst the latest response from the UK government also reminds us of the sad truth that we (like the Greeks and the Italians) already live in a kind of ‘technocracy’ with decisions on whether or not to now proceed being left entirely in the hands of ‘experts’.
Clean water and breathable air are basic human rights, and in any civilised society, these, at very least, ought to be guaranteed. But increasingly they are not. Could the message be any clearer?
1 From a BBC news report entitled “Fracking tests near Blackpool ‘likely cause’ of tremors”, published on November 2, 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-15550458