Opponents of Fracking have good solid goals in the pursuit of renewable energy, but I believe that these five arguments will show that for now they should back the frack – for practical reasons if nothing else.
1. Fracking is not new in Britain – we’ve been doing it for decades
Hydraulic fracturing is not a new system for retrieving energy. In fact, the UK has been ‘fracking’ for several decades. In Nottinghamshire, primitive fracking dates back to 1963 – albeit on a lower intensity – and the site is still in operation. The Nottinghamshire based site is located in Beckingham, and it produces around 300 barrels of crude oil and one million cubic feet of natural gas per day; that’s enough gas and oil to power 21,000 homes on a daily basis.
Moreover, the largest onshore oilfield in Western Europe is in Dorset where Perenco, a French Oil and Gas company, has been quietly producing a thousand barrels of oil a day since the 1970s. What’s more is that Perenco have used fracking techniques to extract Oil and Gas.
It’s important to get across that there are 200 wells in Britain where a slightly less intense version of fracking has taken place over the last 20 years. So this is not an undiscovered and unsafe system, we have been performing hydraulic fracking for decades – the difference is what we are fracking for.
2. It hasn’t destroyed local environments
Many have made the case that hydraulic fracturing, and the fluid used to frack, will pollute local water streams, will cause droughts, or will destroy local environments through pollution.
But what is Fracking fluid?
It is comprised of 90% water and 9.51% sand, the remaining 0.49% contains 13 key chemicals, which are listed below.
Citric acid, which is found in Lemon juice.
Hydrochloric acid, which is used in swimming pools.
Glutaraldehyde, which is a disinfectant.
Guar, which is used in Ice cream.
Dimethylformamide, which is used in plastics
Isopropanol, which is used in deodorants
Borate, which is used in hand soap
Ammonium persulphate, which is used in hair dyes
Potassium chloride, which is used in drips
Sodium carbonate, which is used in detergent
Ethylene glycol, which is used in when you de-ice products
Ammonium bisulphite, that is used in cosmetics
Petroleum distillate, which also is used in cosmetics
From the list above, we can see that these chemicals are used in every day items, and although that doesn’t make them safe, – I wouldn’t recommend anyone should eat Hydrochloric acid for example – under the correct systems and regulations, security can be achieved, as it has done for the past few decades.
But to add on that last point: if we look across the Atlantic to our cousins over in the USA – where thousands of wells have been drilled – there has been no proven case of groundwater contamination. That’s not to imply that the possibility of an error could not occur, but so far it has not – and that should give us a great deal of confidence that hydraulic fracturing for shale is achievable and safe.
But will there be droughts if we start fracking away?
The Guardian Newspaper thinks so, as they reported that the State of Texas was facing a drought due to the activities of hydraulic fracturing within its borders. Gas 2.0 have said the same, but this time that 30 towns will be out of water because of the shale gas extraction.
These claims might hold some weight if droughts had not of been a problem for Texas before fracking began. Hydraulic fracturing started in 1949 in the United States, and Texas has long been associated with droughts. In fact, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (1488-1558), the Spanish explorer of the New World, found a population of soil tillers near the site of present-day Presidio, where it had not rained for two years. That was in the 1500s, and Texas has not changed a huge amount since in weather terms. So it’s disingenuous of these Newspapers to suggest that fracking is responsible for the lack of water in one of the hottest States in the USA.
3. Use the tax revenues from fracking to invest in Green Tech.
As I have established, fracking has been around for a considerable amount of time in the UK – albeit on lower volume and intensity – and furthermore, due to its positive chances of reducing the cost of future energy bills, it is unlikely that fracking will stop now. One clever tactic the opponents of fracking could use is to convince the government to spend the tax revenues made from Shale Gas as an investment for further development in Green Tech.
Wind energy contributes to around 1% of Britain’s energy requirements, and on occasions Wind Turbines, such as the one in Reading, costs more in subsidies than what it produces in clean energy – the Reading based Wind Turbine functioned at a £30,000 deficit in 2008. It’s not good enough to say that we should build more turbines, or ban non renewable energy at this time. As good as the objectives of the brigade that advocate for greater renewable energy systems are, they must realise that renewable technology is not ready to be seriously pursued at this time.
We also know that fracking for Shale Gas is not sustainable, although there are estimates that the North of England’s gas deposits can provide the UK with energy for forty years. But even so, that’s not a long term solution. Therefore it would be a smart move for advocates of sustainable energy and opponents of fracking, who, once they realise that hydraulic fracturing will continue to take place, argue that tax revenues collected from Shale Gas could be reinvested towards Green Tech to improve it, make it more efficient, and drive down its prices.
4. Stop funding dictators and oppressive countries
Another reason why opponents of fracking may want to reconsider is based firmly in an ethical structure. I pass no judgement as to your conclusion on this section, but this may be a winning ticket for some people.
Russia and Vladimir Putin have been circulating newsrooms to a large degree in recent weeks. You may have noticed on how the Kremlin has decided to turn a blind eye to the way that homosexuals and lesbians are being brutally assaulted – and in some circumstances killed for being who they are. No one with a sound mind endorses such behaviour, and it is shocking to see it being ignored by the Russian state.
It is also important to voice that Russia is the largest producer of crude oil in the world, producing just under 13% of the world demand. With a domestic energy market in Shale Gas, it becomes easier for conscious consumers to boycott products they don’t like.
The second biggest producer is Saudi Arabia, the abuser of women’s rights, civil liberties, and equality. In Saudi, women cannot be seen out in public unless they are accompanied by a man, and you can also be sentenced to death if you are deemed to be a witch, or perform ‘witchcraft’. Saudi Arabia produces 9,570,000 a day, which is around 11.25% of world demand.
The third is the United States, where drone warfare is a regular part of Foreign Policy, prisoners inside Guantanamo Bay are detained without trial for undefined sentences, and finally, is led by a government which spies on its own citizens through the NSA.
The list goes on and on.
Iran, China, the UAE, Nigeria et al. Take your pick.
The point being made here is that now British consumers do not have to fund these nations because we can rely on Shale Gas to provide us with our energy needs. Sure, it’s not like you can go up to the man in the Total garage and ask where each drop of fuel came from, but the principle is there. If you have enough of an interest in foreign affairs to know that there is an oil producing state which you do not like, then there is a good chance that you will dislike more than one. Shale gas gives you an alternative.
5. Industrial Jobs will return – en masse – to the North
Many people, including myself, admire the legacy of Margaret Thatcher. However, under her leadership – and that of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan (who actually closed more mines than Thatcher) – mining communities were disproportionately affected by the decision to cut government subsidies to those institutions. The emergence of Shale Gas will see an industrial North once more – except this time, it should not require those subsidies to make it happen.
It has been estimated that there is around 40 years of Shale Gas in the North of England, and that in Lancaster, 1,700 jobs have already been created from the process. There will be many more jobs to come in the North of England. This is rejuvenating the North’s past industrial edge, and it is also partially addressing the North/South divide and social structure. Fracking can only be a good thing for increasing the Northern economies, providing jobs for people, and aiding money circulation through local communities.