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Jacob Rees-Mogg column: Benefits fracking could bring are surely worth investigating

By Somerset Guardian  |  Posted: September 13, 2012

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A proposal to drill into coal reserves near Keynsham has led to an important discussion about hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking.

Partly because of fears about earthquakes and contaminated water fracking is seen as a potentially risky technology. However, a detailed study by the Royal Academy of Engineers suggests otherwise.

In its report the Royal Academy of Engineers says that fracking can cause seismic events but small ones. These are smaller than those caused by coal mining as the energy release is less than that "released by the collapse of open voids in rock formations".

It also reports that the contamination of water in Pavillion, Wyoming, was caused by improper practices and that no reports of contaminated water wells in areas of shale gas drilling have shown the presence of any chemicals used in the process.

Interestingly such wells, in areas where fracking may be possible, often have a high level of naturally occurring methane.

The academy recommends careful regulation and monitoring to minimise risks and this is surely sensible. This is true for all forms of energy extraction while both coal and oil have their own risks.

As fracking technology has improved it has provided an energy boom in the United States. It has lowered the price of gas and reduced the country's reliance on imports.

A Reuters report said the UK has 60 years of onshore reserves and 300 years offshore – a huge 1,000 trillion cubic feet. If this technology will provide jobs in North East Somerset, can be well regulated and will give us lower heating bills it must at least be worth considering.

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  • Tim_Richards  |  October 27 2012, 9:47AM

    I have asked Mr Rees-Mogg for his Reuters reference which you can find at http://tinyurl.com/rm-frack-source . Read it for yourself and see what it says. He has ignored government briefing papers on the subject and both UK and US estimates of UK reserves. Further, he has cherry picked what Reuters has said and missed out the bit that says "There are still no reliable figures available for the UK, and some experts doubt preliminary onshore reserve figures by private companies. Also only around 10 to 20 percent of total reserves are currently deemed recoverable" and "The technique is expensive" and "For the offshore industry to become viable, you'd need vastly higher energy costs" etc etc etc. Mr Rees-Mogg would be better off reading the Parliamentary briefing note on the subject - http://tinyurl.com/8wo25t9

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  • HelenMoore  |  September 27 2012, 4:39PM

    If we want jobs in Somerset, surely they should be green jobs, that are harmful to neither human nor planetary health? The Campaign Against Climate Change http://tinyurl.com/cw9bel2 supported by several trades unions, has calculated that up to one million new jobs could be created by meeting targets to reduce carbon emissions. These 'climate jobs' would be in factories that make the infrastructure for generating renewables – such as wind and marine turbines, and solar panels – and then in installation and maintenance; new jobs would also be created in areas such as manufacturing and installing home insulation; improved public transport; manufacturing electric cars and buses; and training and education in all these sectors. Why then is our supposedly 'greenest government ever' not supporting this, and instead giving the green light to a technology that will be disastrous for us and for future generations??

  • GreyWolf  |  September 26 2012, 1:18PM

    Why does this poltroon have "trusted source" next to his byeline? This article is so badly researched and so full of incomplete information (for example the important difference between potential reserves and recoverable reserves is not mentioned as it would be inconvenient to the gung ho thrust of the article?) that This Is Somerset should be embarrassed to leave it on their website. Base don this article I wouldn't trust anything this man writes again!

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  • Yarolala  |  September 26 2012, 11:15AM

    People seem to naively/arrogantly assume that 'regulation' will get rid of the huge risks assocaited with fracking. It has NO history of ever being done safely and no evidence it ever could be. In a report by the pro fracking manahattan institute 'the econonmic of shale energy development' gives clear industry statistics (so probably the tip of a huge iceberg) which say that historicallyapproximately 7% of marcellus wells have have a major environmental violation each year (blowouts, well casing failing, migrating gas etc), they think this is ok because of economic reasons, forgetting that we can't drink or eat money, and conveniently ignoring that they are destroying the value of peoples homes and trapping them in gasfields with no way to get out, as no one will buy their properties, and many of these people are getting really sick and doctors have to sign gagging aggreements to find out what chemicals these people are being exposed to - air pollution is a huge issue as well as water. Some say don't compare America to Britain, that will will regulate it better so it will be safe here, but we have the same rules of physics here and the same greedy lying corporations. Cuadrilla (first major frackers in the UK) already broke conditions of their planning permission in Lancashire (put in place to protect overwintering birds at a nearby sanctuary) and nobody called them on it. It only came out in a court case against some responsible human beings who occupied a fracking rig to try to stop them. The sooner we take full responsibility for protecting our communities, land and lives, and stop trusting spineless authorities to be on our side, the better.

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  • Yarolala  |  September 26 2012, 11:13AM

    People arrogantly assume that 'regulation' will get rid of the huge risks assocaited with fracking. It has NO history of ever being done safely and no evidence it ever could be. In a report by the pro fracking manahattan institute http://tinyurl.com/9htpwxl it gives clear industry statistics (so probably the tip of a huge iceberg) which say that historicallyapproximately 7% of marcellus wells have have a major environmental violation each year (blowouts, well casing failing, migrating gas etc), they think this is ok because of economic reasons, forgetting that we can't drink or eat money, and conveniently ignoring that they are destroying the value of peoples homes and trapping them in gasfields with no way to get out, as no one will buy their properties, and many of these people are getting really sick and doctors have to sign gagging aggreements to find out what chemicals these people are being exposed to - air pollution is a huge issue as well as water. Some say don't compare America to Britain, that will will regulate it better so it will be safe here, but we have the same rules of physics here and the same greedy lying corporations. Cuadrilla (first major frackers in the UK) already broke conditions of their planning permission in Lancashire (put in place to protect overwintering birds at a nearby sanctuary) and nobody called them on it. It only came out in a court case against some responsible human beings who occupied a fracking rig to try to stop them. The sooner we take full responsibility for protecting our communities, land and lives, and stop trusting spineless authorities to be on our side, the better.

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  • richnfamous  |  September 26 2012, 9:13AM

    the 'scientific study' Rees-Mogg refers to hides an ugly secret: http://tinyurl.com/d7thknk "Earlier this year, a study led by Dr. Charles "Chip" Groat for the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin made headlines for saying there was no link between fracking and groundwater contamination. But according to a new report out today by the Public Accountablitiy Initiative (PAI), a nonprofit watchdog group, the conclusions in Groat's report aren't as clear cut as initially reported. And Groat himself did not disclose significant financial ties to the fracking industry. Groat, a former Director of the U.S. Geological Survey and professor at the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin, also sits on the board of Plains Exploration and Production Company, a Houston-based company that conducts drilling and fracking in Texas and other parts of the country. According to the new report (and a review of the company's financial reports by Bloomberg) Groat received more than $400,000 from the drilling company last year alone, more than double his salary at the University." so much for independent science...this study is as tainted as the water near a leaky frack site

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  • siarad2  |  September 14 2012, 10:17PM

    @askwhybooks More alarmingly gas flaring of 'waste' gas amounts to 30% of EU gas consumption. Worldwide 1.2% of CO2, some 400m tons, many times that produced by Wales & WE are made to suffer green taxes. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas_flare

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  • askwhybooks  |  September 14 2012, 6:09PM

    @Siarad2. Yes, methane has 25 times the impact on temperature as carbon dioxide of the same mass over 100 years--a large effect for a brief period, a net lifetime of 8.4 years in the atmosphere--whereas carbon dioxide has a smaller effect for a long period, over 100 years. But methane in the air has increased 150% since 1750, and accounts for 20% of the total effect of the long-lived global greenhouse gases. (Wikipedia, sv "atmospheric methane")

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  • siarad2  |  September 14 2012, 5:46PM

    @askwhybooks Methane is 22 times more a greenhouse gas but is short-lived compared to CO2

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  • EarlBH  |  September 14 2012, 5:41PM

    Most shale gas wells have got all the easy gas out within two years. It has been described as a type of ponzi-scheme. However there is a way to get sustainable gas FOREVER, and that is by installing Anaerobic Digesters in every town (at the sewage works) and taking all bio-waste from the area & turning it into usable gas. If every town & city did so we would produce gas sustainably FOREVER. http://tinyurl.com/8r4ylws

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