In an angry exchange in the House of Commons, the new secretary of affairs, Jacob Rees-Mogg, made four controversial statements about fracking on Thursday. But do they get up?
1. “It’s safe, it’s proven safe, the scary stories have been proven wrong over and over again.”
Despite the clear statement from the company secretary, the jury is still out on whether or not fracking is safe. The government-commissioned British Geological Survey says predicting the occurrence of large fracking earthquakes and their predicted magnitude is complex and remains a scientific challenge.
Equally difficult is assessing and mitigating the risks from fracking-induced earthquakes or predicting the occurrence of larger tremors during drilling operations. BGS says the rates of fracking-induced earthquakes in other countries, where shale gas production has been going on for many years, vary considerably.
Fracking also risks contaminating groundwater, according to the BGS, which states: “Groundwater can be potentially contaminated from shale gas extraction from both the constituents of the shale gas itself, and from the formulation and deep injection of water containing a cocktail of additives used for fracturing hydraulics and from reflux water which may have a high content of salt-forming water ”.
A 2016 study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found evidence that fracking can affect drinking water resources in many different circumstances, particularly where there are low groundwater levels.
This week Lord Deben, chairman of the Climate Change Committee, warned ministers to look at the facts. “The thing is, you have to approach fracking in an environmentally sensible way or else you have serious results.”
2. “The hysteria about seismic activity fails to understand that the Richter scale is a logarithmic scale. It seems to think it is a linear arithmetic scale, which of course it is not.
Rees-Mogg is correct in some ways; the Richter scale is logarithmic, which means that an increase of one unit of magnitude corresponds to a tenfold increase in amplitude.
Whether this equates to the hysteria surrounding earthquakes caused by fracking is subjective. The local magnitude 2.9 (ML) earthquake that struck Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site in Lancashire in 2019 and led to the fracking moratorium was 251 times larger than the current maximum safe fracking limit of 0. , 5 ml.
When the fracking-induced earthquake in Preston New Road struck on a bank holiday Monday in August, it was felt across the region. A freedom of information request showed that the BGS received 197 damage reports from eight areas of the postcode after the earthquake.
However, as the UKOOG industrial body pointed out, the surface vibration of the earthquake was about half of that allowed on UK construction sites and lasted for a total of two seconds.
3. “Bringing this supply will bring us cheaper energy, which we need.”
If shale gas is produced on a large scale in England, it will be sold on the international market, as current Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng acknowledged, who said this year: “If we lifted the moratorium on fracking, it would take up to a decade. to extract enough volumes – and would have a high cost to communities and our valuable campaigns.
“No amount of shale gas from hundreds of wells scattered across rural England would be enough to bring the European price down anytime soon.
“And with the best will in the world, private companies will not sell the shale gas they produce to UK consumers below the market price. They are not charities, after all ”.
UKOOG has suggested, but has not committed to, reduce gas prices for local residents at the sites through a community benefit package.
4. “This is it of such importance, and it is the pure expedient that opposes it “.
Some may argue that Rees-Mogg is the Luddite to advocate for greater fossil fuel extraction, which dates back to the 1800s. In a letter to the prime minister this week, more than 100 companies urged the government to prioritize energy efficiency. , decarbonisation and renewable energies to accelerate the shift from fossil fuels.
Recent investment trends in the energy transition BloombergNEF’s report also painted the future as clean energy, stating that renewable energy is now the default choice for most countries looking to add or replace power generation capacity.
“This is no longer due to mandates or subsidies, but simply because these technologies are most often the most cost-competitive,” said Luiza Demôro, BloombergNEF’s head of energy transitions.