In the quest for eco friendly and cheap fuels the West is exploring many alternatives. It seems that sadly Western governments gets more decisions wrong than they do right. The latest news is that the UK government has given the green light for hydraulic fracturing or fracking to go ahead.
So, first things first, what is fracking?
According to the BBC, "The process of drilling down and creating tiny explosions to shatter and crack hard shale rocks to release the gas inside. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well. The process is carried out vertically or, more commonly, by drilling horizontally to the rock layer. The process can create new pathways to release gas or can be used to extend existing channels.
Why is it called fracking?
It is shorthand for hydraulic fracturing and refers to how the rock is fractured apart by the high pressure mixture. Experts also refer to a "frac job" and a "frac unit".
Why is it controversial?
Much of the water used in fracking is collected from the well and processed, but there are concerns that potentially carcinogenic chemicals can sometimes escape and find their way into drinking water sources. Some American householders also claim that shale gas leaking into their drinking supply causes tap water to ignite"
In June 2011 fracking testing was suspended following two minor earthquakes in Lancashire.. In November 2011 the investigation into fracking found that it was likely the work had caused the earthquakes. The energy company involved in the testing claimed that it was unlikely however that the conditions which had caused the earthquakes would occur again.
The UK is currently, reportedly, suffering a severe drought which will last till Christmas. That may be hard to believe right now as large areas of the UK experience torrential rain. The ground has suffered at the hands of drought conditions followed by heavy rainfalls. Does this sound like perfect conditions to damage the ground further?
The UK government are concentrating on saving money right now. Offering companies work will come into the equation. Securing our own gas supplies to make us independent of foreign countries will also play an important part. Just where the environment comes in, if at all, is unclear.
New procedures often come up against resistance but in the case of fracking caution should be the order of the day. Insufficient testing is not a sensible option. There is already a gas leak ongoing in the North Sea which will not be sorted for some months. Do we want to leave the next generation a battered and bruised Earth that is beyond repair? Right now it would seem that we do, as long asi t saves us money in the short term.
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog