(UPI) – An editorial published Tuesday by The Guardian newspaper questioned the British government’s pursuit of shale natural gas, saying leave it alone.
“It is, to say the least, questionable for the U.K. to claim the need to bring on stream a new fossil fuel at a time when it is also notionally committed to greening its economy,” the newspaper opined. “Fracking will never produce American amounts of shale gas, and certainly won’t even be viable for at least a decade.”
The British Geological Survey estimates the Bowland shale formation in the north of the country contains 1.3 quadrillion cubic feet of natural gas. The government said it must act carefully in unlocking those reserves, but expressed support for a fledgling sector it says will provide jobs, economic growth and a source of energy security.
“As one of the cleanest fossil fuels, shale gas can be a key part of the U.K.’s answer to climate change and a bridge to a much greener future,” Business and Energy Minister Matthew Hancock said last year.
Documents circulated by the British Friends of the Earth this week claimed the government was working alongside shale pioneers to advance hydraulic fracturing. For The Guardian, it was a matter of “bullying and bribing.”
In 2012, the British government enacted new restrictions on hydraulic fracturing, ending a moratorium enforced after minor tremors were reported near Lancashire drilling sites. BGS this month announced plans to conduct live monitoring of shale exploration in Lancashire.
Cuadrilla Resources aims to conduct hydraulic fracturing operations in Lancashire. County officials said last week they were considering refusal of Cuadrilla’s application because of noise pollution concerns. There were no objections raised at the federal level.
By Daniel J. Graeber