The anti-fracking support meeting this evening decided we need a basic intro to fracking. Here it is.In 2011, the Green Party called for a fracking moratorium, to give time to evaluate the impacts of this new method of getting fossil fuels out of the ground.
The evidence is now in and it’s clear that fracking would speed up climate change, put communities at risk of the release of dangerous pollutants and blight our roads and countryside with mass lorry movements.
Plus there is no need for fracked gas as a transitional fuel, while we move from dirtier fossil fuels like coal and oil to renewable energy.
Energy pathways modelling (which identifies how much energy we need from different energy sources in order to meet our energy need) shows that we can make the transition to renewable energy generation without the use of fracked gas.
But the Coalition government has already opened up over half of Britain for fracking, including the north western bit of Calderdale, and the current government has awarded licence blocks to energy firms and overruled local planning decisions to reject fracking. This is despite widespread opposition to the controversial technique and growing evidence of its harmful impacts on the environment, the climate and public health.
In 2015 Medact published a report on health and fracking that concluded fracking generates numerous public health risks, including:
- Potential health hazards associated with air pollution and water contamination: these include toxins that are linked to increased risks of cancer, birth defects and lung disease;
- Negative health impacts associated with noise, traffic, spoilage of the natural environment, and local social and economic disruption.
- The indirect effects of climate change produced by greenhouse gas emissions.
The report acknowledged that the precise level of risk to health cannot be known with certainty for a number of reasons. But in July 2016 Medact published an updated summary report, linked to a longer fully-referenced review of the evidence, which reaffirms the conclusions of the first report based on the significantly increased body of peer-reviewed evidence.
A letter of support for the Medact report from the Co-Chairs of the Climate and Health Council and many other health professionals said:
“The arguments against fracking on public health and ecological grounds are overwhelming. There are clear grounds for adopting the precautionary principle and prohibiting fracking.”
When you look at the web of financial interests that link Tory politicians and fracking companies, it’s clear that fracking is not about Britain’s energy needs, but about profits for the 1% and to hell with the environment and the 99%.
We’re being sold fracking on the grounds that it will reduce our dependence on imported gas from countries we’d really rather not have to rely on, like Russia.
But the way to increase our energy security is through investing in measures that will power down and power up.
Power down our energy use through public investment in energy saving measures, like mass home insulation, improved affordable public transport and making our towns and cities more walkable and cyclable. And power up our renewable energy generation.
It’s all doable and it’s exciting.