Week Ending 3rd November 2013

New special digest - Regulation and The Royals Report

UK news highlights

A quiet start to the week. Josh Fox picked up some coverage in the Guardian saying UK protests could halt shale gas. He also said protestors should promote renewables and highlight climate change in campaigning.

Brent is determined to establish itself as a no-fracking zone. Drawing the inevitable "loony left" comment from the Mail.

In contrast, begging belief is the report from Stoke that the local District Council is so immersed in CBM extraction that it is appointing directors from its ranks of councillors and officers to set up a gas company hoping to bring the project to fruition. If ever there was a better call for local revolution, I haven't heard of it!

Barton Moss progress!

Another significant boost for anti-fracking came midweek, when it was announced IGas had been forced to put back its plans to start drilling at Barton Moss. The Times reported this was due to security considerations. This may well be true in part, given the police paranoia we reported on last week. Questions remain unanswered about the legality of new fencing close to the proposed drilling site, and whether this has planning permission. Are Salford City Council neglecting their duty, as did West Sussex County Council? The answer is almost certainly yes. The planning permission IGas obtained in 2010 related to a shallow CBM operation. There is now the real possibility the genuine reason for IGas putting back their plans is they do NOT have permission for shale gas exploration.

Wider issues - safety and regulation

More encouragement for the frackers came on Thursday with release of a "new" report from Public Health England claiming anti-fracking fears were groundless, provided proper regulation was in force. Greenpeace, amongst others reacted with an expected negative view on this.

The report admitted all it had done, apart from examining one report of testing by the EA on Cuadrilla's flowback water from Preese Hall, was look at non-peer reviewed results from the US.

This is the overwhelming message now coming out of the pro-fracking camp. That in the UK regulation will mean safe shale gas. The lie is on all the pro-frackers' lips. As Cuadrilla told the Lords -
"Contrary to the views of a vocal minority there is a clear scientific and academic consensus, underlined here in the UK by the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering joint report (see joint report July 2012 http://royalsociety.org/policy/projects/shale-gas-extraction/report/), and by other prominent academic experts that unconventional oil and gas exploration and production can be carried out entirely safely in the UK."

Anyone who has looked at the evidence given so far this month to the Lords committee looking at the economic "benefits" of shale gas will be very aware that regulation is not a side issue. It is central to how we have to counter the pro-shale argument. Shouting "Ecocide" from the rooftops is not enough. The issues of climate change and regulation have to be addressed IN ADDITION to whatever direct action, civil disobedience form part of the anti-fracking strategy. In particular the fact that regulation in the UK is claimed to be a world gold standard, but in reality is outdated, inappropriate and inadequate, has to be addressed at a detailed and informed level. It is quite clear that this can be done with overwhelming reason, because of the weakness of and lies embedded in the pro-fracking argument.

It is also patently clear that the pro-frackers will only win if they succeed in promoting their lie that fracking is safe with UK regulation, the "best in the world". They must cringe every time David Cameron and George Osborne promise to CUT red tape and let nothing, particularly planning permission and regulation, stand in fracking's way. This totally undermines the fracking operator's argument, and is one of the strongest weapons we currently hold.

Elsewhere

"After 10 years of production, shale gas in the United States cannot be considered commercially viable, according to several scientists presenting at the Geological Society of America meeting in Denver on Monday. They argue that while the use of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling for "tight oil" is an important contributor to U.S. energy supply, it is not going to result in long-term sustainable production or allow the U.S. to become a net oil exporter. "

As India prepares to join the shale gas "revolution" popular newspaper DNA reports India is among the countries most likely to be affected and that Mumbai is among the top two cities in the world at risk.

Noam Chomsky delivered a strong anti-fracking message in a Guardian interview.



Any opinions here not quotes from the week's news reports are my own.
Alan Tootill

News As It Came In with links to original stories

Monday

Shale Projects Lagging in Eastern Europe

INSIGHT-Water, wealth and whites - S.Africa's potent anti-fracking mix

Scientists wary of shale oil and gas as US energy salvation

Tuesday

Josh Fox: anti-fracking protests could stop drilling in the UK

Wednesday

Security fears lead to shale gas hiatus

Thursday

Mumbai faces biggest threats from climate change of all cities in world

Proper running and regulation will ensure fracking public health risk remains low

Report timely reminder of fracking health risks

Friday

Cuadrilla reassured after Government report describes fracking as low risk

Daily Mail: Living next to a fracking site will NOT cause cancer: Public health watchdog dismisses risks but calls for more research into long-term effects

Business Green: Report timely reminder of fracking health risks

Mirror: Fracking get ‘safe’ verdict from Public Health England report on pollution and contamination risks

Brent Council plan to ban fracking in the borough

Noam Chomsky slams Canada's shale gas energy plans

Saturday

Noam Chomsky slams Canada's shale gas energy plans

Sunday

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