Traditional energy companies, many of which have made a considerable investment in hydraulic fracturing (fracking), are urging the Government to reduce or even remove the renewable energy subsidies, with a pledge to reduce energy costs if they do so. So is it any wonder that David Cameron is trying to persuade the opponents of fracking to get on board with this controversial technology, even to the extent of falsely claiming it is green. But, is his offer of the retention of any business rates accrued by fracking ventures, along with a 1% payment of the gross revenue nothing more than bribery being offered to councils to remove objections to fracking in their districts. And, is it yet another salvo in the Conservative re-election campaign in which energy prices are to be a major contributing factor .
It has been claimed by the Government that if full scale fracking were to go ahead in the UK thousands of jobs would be created and our energy costs would see a reduction of up to fifty percent. These claims have been hotly contested by Green Peace and Friends of the Earth amongst others, who claim that the UK will see a 1-2% reduction in its energy bills, if any at all. What is certain is that the energy companies will make huge profits, far greater than they would for similar investments in truly green and renewable energy.
It has also been claimed that fracking is environmentally sound, despite that there is a great deal of scientific evidence to the contrary. Each well requires 8 million gallons of water and 0ver 600 chemicals to be pumped at high pressure into the gas bearing shale rocks deep under ground, this fractures the rock and allows the gas to pass through bore holes and into the well head. Once the fracturing is complete the resulting polluted water is pumped back to surface and into collection ponds where it is allowed to evaporate along with the volatile chemicals it contains. Many of these chemicals, some 40,000 gallons in all are carcinogenic, and include lead, uranium, mercury, radium, methanol, hydrochloric acid and formaldehyde.
The resulting natural gas may actually be slightly cleaner burning gas than the liquid petroleum gas we presently import but is far from green, it is still a fossil fuel, and as such produces carbon dioxide emissions. Therefore in addition to the hazards of water course pollution and the potential to cause earth quakes, which has persuaded the French Government to take the steps to place an outright ban on all fracking within their countries borders, fracking also increases global warming. This would appear to be a very dangerous gamble, at a time when the world is experiencing unprecedented weather patterns which many scientists say are directly attributed to global warming, which most nations of the world are committed to reducing.
In a time of escalating energy costs, where millions of households are spending in excess of 10% of their income on energy costs, would this not appear to be the perfect ploy, for an unpopular government to regain the confidence of the electorate and their all important votes, with the allure of cheap energy and the prosperity that might bring, heedless of the potential environmental damage it may cause.