UK Fracking Policy has been ruled to be illegal for ignoring Climate Impacts. There is illegality in current UK fracking policy, according to a Planning Regulations judge. The decision, handed down on Thursday, means the government will have to revisit its national policy on shale gas extraction. It will be forced to take into account the latest scientific evidence on climate change.
For a government which frequently puts forward spokespersons on the UK media claiming that:
- the UK is doing better than other nations in combating climate change. And,
- in seeking to leave the EU, once out of the EU, the UK will go one better than the EU on environmental matters,
the duplicity of this is shocking.
Furthermore, simultaneously the government is closing down support for proven safe renewable energy sources, such as biogas production. Indeed, this very month the Feed-in-Tariff subsidy is being closed to new applicants.
All this at a time when according to recent global monitoring data, not nearly enough is being done globally to contain rising temperatures below serious danger level.
Rises will be very unlikely to be containable now to the level agreed at the 2015 Paris Summit. Yet, the government is already subsidizing the UK fossil fuel fracking industry through massive tax breaks on investment in the industry. These being subsidies it says the nation cannot afford when it comes to supporting renewable energy.
The anaerobic digestion community is joining in with other groups to speak out about the damage further development of UK fracking would cause.
So here are the latest stories of UK fracking policy, and fracking experience in the US. We quote from various News Sources, starting with the views of the UK AD industry as released by the industry trade association ADBA:
UK Fracking Policy and US – News Roundup
ADBA PRESS RELEASE, 7 Mar 2019:
Green gas industry responds to UK fracking policy court ruling
Responding to the High Court’s ruling that key aspects of the government’s national planning policy on fracking are unlawful, Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive of the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association, said:
“This ruling tells us what we all already knew: that fracking is not a clean, long-term, or viable solution to meeting our energy needs in the UK.
“Rather than letting fracking firms drill underneath our homes and national parks to extract climate-change-driving fossil fuels, ministers should be focusing their efforts on facilitating the production of green biogas, which can be produced from organic wastes such as inedible food waste, manures and slurries, and sewage.
“Biogas can not only be used to produce renewable electricity but can also be upgraded to biomethane and used to decarbonise the gas grid or used as a clean transport fuel for heavy vehicles such as HGVs and buses.
“As if this isn’t enough, biogas technologies also reduce emissions from those organic wastes, improve soil health and food security through producing nutrient-rich natural fertiliser, and provide energy security that doesn't rely on fossil-fuel extraction.
“The sooner the government realises that fracking is a no-goer and puts its efforts into renewables such as biogas, the better for everyone across the UK – both now and in the future.”
UK Fracking Policy Declared Unlawful by High Court
Key elements of the UK government’s policy on fracking have been declared unlawful by the High Court.
Ministers had failed to consider the latest evidence concerning the technique’s “low carbon” credentials, campaign group Talk Fracking argued.
The judge agreed the climate impact of shale gas extraction had been overlooked and described government policy as “flawed in its design and processes”. via Governmentfrackingunlawful
Commonsense Plea to End Fracking For Good
Climate change is happening now and will have increasingly severe consequences if we don’t act – including more devastating floods, extreme heat, and plunging many millions of people into poverty. We need to act fast in order to keep the world’s temperature from rising above 1.5 degrees.
The UK fracking industry has wasted 8 years on the false premise that fracking is safe, reliable and ready to deliver.
First they wanted to be allowed to drill under your house without your permission. Then Government tried letting them off the hook by allowing them to drill without planning permission. And now the industry wants to lower safety standards so they can cause bigger earthquakes. via greenpeace.org.uk
High court rules government's fracking guidelines ‘unlawful'
The government’s attempts to make fracking easier have received a setback after the high court ruled key aspects of its national planning policy to be unlawful.
In a case brought by anti-fracking campaigners, the court found that it was material to consider scientific evidence, including the effects on climate change, in deciding policy on fracking, and the government had failed to do so.
The judgment implied that campaigners could raise climate change as a reason to object to planning permission for fracking sites, which will make it easier for campaigners to lobby against licensing new sites.
UK Fracking Policy “so flawed …. as to be unlawful”
Mr Justice Dove also criticised the way the public consultation was carried out, calling part of it “so flawed in its design and processes as to be unlawful”.
The judgment also suggested that gas from fracking might not be considered a low-carbon source of fuel, which could also hamper attempts to expand fracking around the country.
The government will now present its arguments on what changes may have to be made to the national planning policy framework, which sets out the rules by which local authorities can make their planning decision on individual sites.
Any changes to the policy framework could make it easier for environmental groups to argue against new fracking sites, which ministers wanted to prevent.
Joe Corre, founder of Talk Fracking, represented by Leigh Day solicitors, which brought the judicial review challenge to the government’s national planning policy framework, said the government had been exposed. “The court has clarified both that the government has behaved irresponsibly and recklessly with our democratic rule book. Their pretend consultation was a farce. It has also become clear with guidance from the court that objections to fracking on the basis of its climate change impacts must be considered at a local planning level,” he said. via The Guardian
Meanwhile in the US:
Fracking connection probed in 4.6-magnitude earthquake near Red Deer
The town of Sylvan Lake, to the left, and the city of Red Deer were jolted by a 4.6-magnitude earthquake at 5:55 a.m. on Monday, March 4, 2019.
The Alberta Energy Regulator is working to determine if a fracking operation caused an earthquake near Sylvan Lake and Red Deer on Monday.
Natural Resources Canada said a 4.6-magnitude earthquake rocked parts of central Alberta just before 6 a.m. The federal department’s website said the tremor was classified as a light earthquake. via Fracking connection probed
Fracking linked to increased hospitalizations for skin, genital and urinary issues in Pennsylvania
Fracking may put Pennsylvania communities at greater risk for skin, genital, and urinary diseases, according to new research.
The study, which will be published in the March issue of the journal Public Health, looked at hospital records in Pennsylvania's 67 counties from 2003-2014.
Researchers found that the more fracking wells were in a county, the more hospitalizations the county saw for genital and urinary problems like urinary tract infections, kidney infections, and kidney stones. Fracking, another name for hydraulic fracturing, is a process of extracting oil and gas from the Earth by drilling deep wells and injecting liquid at high pressure.
“It's important point to keep in mind that hospitalizations are for acute illness or serious exacerbations of chronic illness,” Alina Denham, a PhD Candidate in Health Services Research and Policy at the University of Rochester and lead author of the study, told EHN.
“So if we see strong associations with hospitalizations, it's likely that additional cases of mild symptoms for the same illnesses have been addressed at home or in an outpatient setting, or not addressed at all.”
EPA to Allow Unlimited Dumping of Fracking Wastewater into the Gulf of Mexico
Mike Ludwig, Truthout
Environmentalists are warning the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that its draft plan to continue allowing oil and gas companies to dump unlimited amounts of fracking chemicals and wastewater directly into the Gulf of Mexico is in violation of federal law.
In a letter sent to EPA officials, attorneys for the Center for Biological Diversity warned that the agency’s draft permit for water pollution discharges in the Gulf fails to properly consider how dumping wastewater containing chemicals from fracking and acidizing operations would impact water quality and marine wildlife.
The attorneys claim that regulators do not fully understand how the chemicals used in offshore fracking and other well treatments — some of which are toxic and dangerous to human and marine life — can impact marine environments, and crucial parts of the draft permit are based on severely outdated data. Finalizing the draft permit as it stands would be a violation of the Clean Water Act, they argue. via EPA to Allow Unlimited Dumping of Fracking Wastewater into the Gulf of Mexico
But, maybe the investment community has more sense than the oil and gas industry?
Frackers Face Harsh Reality as Wall Street Backs Away
The once-powerful partnership between fracking companies and Wall Street is fraying as the industry struggles to attract investors after nearly a decade of losing money.
Frequent infusions of Wall Street capital have sustained the U.S. shale boom. But that largess is running out.
New bond and equity deals have dwindled to the lowest level since 2007. Companies raised about $22 billion from equity and debt financing in 2018, less than half the total in 2016 and almost one-third of what they raised in 2012, according to Dealogic. via Frackers Face Harsh Reality as Wall Street Backs Away
Comments on UK fracking policy are welcome.