This is a guest post from Greenpeace UK
1. It could frack the climate
The world already has far more gas and oil than we can burn if we are to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of global climate change. Finding more will only make it worse.
Fracking fans say gas is better than coal but it turns out simply replacing coal with shale gas may do little good over the next few decades – especially if the gas leaks out, sending super-warming methane into the atmosphere.
The government’s climate advisors say emissions need to fall by more than 80% in just a few decades, which means cutting down on the gas. And that’s if we’re talking gas. A lot of the fracking could actually be for oil, especially in the South.
Fracking for oil is even worse for the climate than normal oil production (according to this report for the Norwegian government) and, as the IEA research shows, we already have far too many people pumping dirty oil into the world.
2. It could frack the countryside, too
Smashing rocks to get at the gas on an industrial scale isn’t easy.
An analysis by Bloomberg suggests that to match what we get from the North Sea with fracking (about half our demand) would need 10-20,000 wells scattered across the countryside in clumps of 6-10 on so-called ‘drilling pads’. Each well would spread like an octopus underground potentially running for miles deep under land and homes.
New roads would be built for the thousands of polluting diesel trucks travelling to and from the drilling site. A report for Cuadrilla suggests that in drilling areas 51 trucks a day could be needed – over five years. On site a drilling rig would move from well to well, pumping water underground and collecting the gas or oil in a 24/7 operation.
3. And it could frack our water
Fracking uses so much water that the water industry has warned it could make our shortages even worse. And if things go wrong on the drilling site (or in transit) then contaminated water from fracking could spread into the environment, polluting ecosystems. The fracking process involves potentially toxic chemicals at almost every stage.
The shale is fracked deep underground but if something goes wrong with the well, gas and fluids can leak into the ground or water supply higher up.
4. It won‘t bring down bills
George Osborne and David Cameron want you to think fracking will send your energy bill crashing.
In fact, the guy that oil company Cuadrilla hired to do their spin put it most simply when he said they’d done some research and the impact on bills would be pretty limited – “basically insignificant” was how he put it.
We already produce lots of gas in the North Sea yet our bills aren’t low. That’s because we’re connected to a European gas market. We’ve got pipes all over the channel and the North Sea. Cuadrilla will sell their gas to the highest bidder – so the UK won’t necessarily see the benefit.
Right now, the UK faces a choice – do we pour millions into planet-wrecking fracking, or do we develop clean renewable energy? Show your opposition to fracking by signing the petition to keep the UK frack free!