Filthy process is a fresh attack on the earth’s resources

Financial Times27 April 2012:

Shale gas is not just a fossil fuel.  Unless fugitive emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, are kept below 2 per cent, then shale gas is less friendly from a climate change perspective than oil or even coal.  In addition, it is a filthy process utilising undeclared chemicals that in the US have posed health threats to animals and humans alike.

I have been involved in debates about industrial processes that pose risks to human health and the environment for 40 years, starting as medical and scientific advisor to Clear, the Campaign for Lead Free Air.  I understand only too well the risks that oil companies are prepared to inflict on the public in their pursuit of profit.  The fossil fuel industry is now gearing up to launch a fresh attack on the earth’s resources in the shape of fracking.  Of one thing I am absolutely certain.  It is never going to happen in the UK.

Robin Russell-Jones
Planetrary SOS
Stoke Poges, Bucks

 

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Fracking: Letter by Councillor Audrey Doig 23.04.12

Letter to Guardian – 23.04.12 Councillor Audrey Doig

Where is the coherence in UK government energy policy? You have recently published three important energy policy articles that show the extensive confusion there is with the government’s energy policy. Late last week you reported that the proposed “green deal’ for the promised renewable energy and energy efficiency revolution is under threat of being shelved (Report, 16 April). Then you reported (17 April) that the proposed new nuclear build utility for Sellafield, GDF Suez, is threatening to pull out of the project unless the government effectively gives it more price guarantees (at taxpayers’ expense, I’ve no doubt). And finally you reported that the highly dubious and environmentally risky shale gas experiments will get the green light, despite, as you accurately report, scores of alarming issues like mini-earthquakes, water contamination and damaged natural landscapes. It doesn’t make me feel confident that there is a coherent energy policy in the UK? What is clear to me is that the only safe, sustainable, clean, job-friendly and environmentally sound energy policy must be the development of a wide UK renewable energy mix, enhanced commitment to energy efficiency and microgeneration projects, coupled with international co-operation to create a European renewable super-grid (Report, 11 April). I urge the government to hold a strategic energy review as a matter of urgency and bring environmental common sense into its policy, rather than short-term economic expediency.

Cllr Audrey Doig

Vice-chair of UK and Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities

Fracking: Letter, Don Patterson 23.04.12

The Guardian, 23 April 2012:

According to the University of Texas, fracking has caused some hundred earthquakes in the US. One, in Youngstown, was recorded at just over 4 on the Richter scale. However, the government-sponsored report on fracking is a diversion, it has simply looked at the geological implications. The important issues are:

1. Water. Around 2-3m gallons of water are used for each well, which can be fracked up to 18 times. In the US there are at least 35,000 wells, so a lot of water is used over there, and here, in the UK we are facing a water shortage.

2. Pollution. The United States house of representatives committee on energy in April 2011 reported 652 different chemicals used in fracking, 29 of which are human carcinogens. In addition, the New York Times (27 February, 2011) reported the presence of radium, unintentionally extracted in the process. Between 40% and 70% of the water used comes back to the surface and has to be disposed of. Then the US Environmental Protection Agency recently announced, for the first time, that fracking may cause groundwater pollution.

3. Climate change. Increasingly large amounts of energy will be required to extract shale gas – methane. Some 2-4% of this escapes from the well, and it is several dozen times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO². Anyway, shale gas distracts from the real task which is to find effective renewable energy because, whether you accept climate change or not, we are going to run out of gas, oil, coal and even uranium one day soon.

Fracking has been banned in Bulgaria, France, New York, New Jersey, Quebec and Switzerland, and in parts of Australia and South Africa. We need to consider the implications of the process before we allow powerful international companies to start drilling in the UK.

Don Patterson
Buckfastleigh, Devon

Fracking and Shale Gas: Letter, Dr Russell-Jones

Letter to the Guardian – 23.04.12

The fact that a scientific committee thinks earth tremors can be reduced by using the right equipment does not mean fracking to obtain shale gas is acceptable. Fracking results in atmospheric releases of methane twice that found with conventional gas. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, seventy times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame. For shale gas to be environmentally friendlier than other fossil fuels, methane emissions from fracking have to be kept below 2%. Current operations release around 10% and, in the US, the fossil fuel industry is strenuously resisting methane control legislation by the Environmental Protection Agency. Development of shale gas is impossible to reconcile with the low-carbon economy the planet so desperately needs.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
International conference organiser, Help Rescue The Planet

Shale Gas could fracture our renewables policy

The Guardian, 24 April 2012:

The fact that a scientific committee thinks earth tremors can be reduced by using the right equipment does not mean fracking to obtain shale gas is acceptable. Fracking results in atmospheric releases of methane twice that found with conventional gas. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, seven times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame. For shale gas to be environmentally friendlier than other fossil fuels, methane emissions from fracking have to be kept below 2%. Current operations release around 10% and, in the US, the fossil fuel industry is strenuously resisting methane control legislation by the Environmental Protection Agency. Development of shale gas is impossible to reconcile with the low-carbon economy the planet so desperately needs.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

On Fracking and Wind We Are Having the Wrong Debates

On Fracking and Wind We Are Having The Wrong Debates

by Zoe Williams in the Guardian Wednesday 18 April, 2012.

It’s been a big week for alternative energy sources. On Tuesday, the British Geological Society effectively greenlit fracking, with its conclusion that the earthquake risk was low. Tomorrow National Opposition to Windfarms launches its campaign in the House of Lords. My instincts are pro-wind and anti-fracking, from a straight climate change perspective: wind is renewable and not harmful, while shale gas is not renewable and contributes as much or more – much more, according to a study by Cornell University – to the greenhouse effect than either oil or coal. Continue reading

CLIMATE CHANGE: THE ENERGY CONUNDRUM

A St George’s House Consultation

Monday 2 to Tuesday 3 April 2012

The problem of how to reduce fossil fuel dependency can be neatly summarized
by the equation:

EC + R > NO ?

Where EC stands for Energy Conservation, R for renewables and NO for Nuclear Option. In scientific equations, the symbol > represents “greater than”. So the question posed is this: If governments world-wide want to solve the issue of climate change, should they spend the money on energy conservation and alternative sources of energy, or should they invest in nuclear power?

Continue reading

Climate Change: The Problem

A St George’s House Consultation
Tuesday 27 to Wednesday 28 March 2012

For 20 years the world community has struggled to address the issue of climate change. Since 1990, the baseline year for the 1992 earth Summit in Rio and also the baseline year for the Kyoto Protocol, annual emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have risen by almost half (49%). In addition the intergovernmental process, organized under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), has broken down with an almost total failure to reach agreement in South Africa in December 2011. The political system has therefore failed and an altogether different approach is needed, one that is based not on politics but upon concerned individuals using science to protect the planet on which we all depend: Designated C6: A Coalition of Clued-up Citizens Concerned about Climate Change.

Fracking: only a ban will do

Letter from Dr Robin Russell-Jones MA FRCP FRCPath to the Independent 26 March, 2012.  Published with only slight modification on 17 April, 2012.

Lord Browne, the former head of BP and now head of Cuadrilla, has joined a  list of powerful but scientifically-illiterate individuals who have been persuaded by the fossil fuel lobby that Shale Gas is the answer to the world’s future energy needs (Fracking could bring UK 50.000 jobs says Browne 26 March).  In his State of the Union address, in January this year, President Obama  stated: “We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly one hundred years, and my Administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy. Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade.”

Osborne followed suit in his budget statement last week: “Gas is cheap, has much less carbon than coal and will be the largest single soured of our electricity in the coming years”.

The problem with shale gas is that fracking results in atmospheric releases of methane twice that encountered with conventional gas.  Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas with a global warming potential 70 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame. In order for shale gas to be environmentally friendlier than other fossil fuels, it is necessary to keep methane emissions from fracking below 2%.  Current operations release around 10% and in the US the fossil fuel industry is strenuously resisting methane control legislation by the EPA.  It appears that they have the key politicians on their side.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire