A dangerous gas extraction practice – ‘fracking’ – will likely get government approval in Chancellor Osborne and energy secretary Ed Davey’s new “dash for gas”.

‘Fracking’ pumps carcinogenic liquids deep underground, breaking open gas-containing rocks, poisoning the water table and releasing the potent greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere.

Hydro fracking, photo by Creative Commons/ Mike Norton

Hydro fracking, photo by Creative Commons/ Mike Norton   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Cuadrilla Resources, whose drilling in Blackpool alarmed residents when it caused two earthquakes (later admitted by the company), claim gas resources which could last the UK more than five decades are trapped in Lancashire shale. However the British Geological Survey suggest roughly 20-40 days of extractable gas.

Since fracking gas wells tend to dry up quickly, six to eight wells per square mile will be required around each of the tens of sites to be explored, in order to wring the maximum from the UK’s shale gas resources, including as many as 800 in Lancashire and more in areas such as Sussex, the Guardian reported (17/4/12).

Gas is falsely considered a ‘clean’ fuel compared to its carbon cousins oil and coal. A recent study by Nature (7/2/12) showed that leaking natural gas – methane – from fracking gas fields makes gas no cleaner than coal. This is because methane is a more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide – 100 times more powerful in the first two decades of its release, and 25 times over its lifetime. The earthquakes in Blackpool deformed the structure of the well, a potential source of leaked gas, among many others.

Renewable energy threatens the profits of the energy industry. The government’s main concern seems to be keeping energy industry profits healthy!

Pete Mason, East London Socialist Party