Shale Gas Fracking Causing Friction in the UK

by Dominique Curtis

Controversy in the UK community has sparked over shale gas. Whitmarsh (2015) discusses how shale gas is the newest project the UK government has suggested to help reduce their reliance on energy ports. The community has questioned the UK’s method of fracking to extract the shale gas because fracking is known to use large amounts of water and the chemicals used in the process are toxic. Researchers and the UK government have tried to explain the great benefits that shale gas will have on the economy and the environment while attempting to pacify the communities’ concerns. Environmental groups still protested about how fracking will contaminate and decrease the availability of water supply, and cause erosion and changes in the temperature of the water in aquatic habitats.

The responses to these concerns were rebuttals about how these side effects would be minimal and that all energy technologies have unwanted side effects. The Prime Minister exclaimed how shale gas will drive down energy cost and create more jobs. Although it is true that there would be more jobs, the increase wouldn’t be any more significant than jobs for other energy sources. Also, shale gas production would not reduce energy cost of the community because of the UK’s place in the natural gas market. Researchers have noted other questionable facts that leave room for skepticism and concerns about the government’s investment and interest in shale gas. The International Energy Agency (IEA) preached about how shale gas will contribute to 14% of global production by the year 2035 and will create a low carbon future in the year 2050. It is true that shale gas carbon footprint would be lower than coal-fired power but shale gas still has a higher carbon footprint than conventional gas, nuclear power, and renewable gases. So the big question is who really benefits from shale gas? Hammond explains that “UK overall might benefit from improved energy security and reduced balance of payments but local communities bear the environmental and health risk of fracking (Hammond, 2017).” Some of the community members are 100% against shale gas fracking, some of the community members are okay with fracking as long as it’s not in their backyard, but for the most part many UK community members are unaware and uneducated on shale gas fracking. shale gas fracking in the UK is still in the early stages and there are still many uncertainties and lack of awareness about the benefits and the risks.

 

Whitmarsh, Lorraine, Nick Nash, Paul Upham, Alyson Lloyd, James P. Verdon, and J.-Michael Kendall. “UK Public Perceptions of Shale Gas Hydraulic Fracturing: The Role of Audience, Message and Contextual Factors on Risk Perceptions and Policy Support.” Applied Energy 160 (2015): 419-30. Web.

 

Hammond, Geoffrey P., and Áine O’Grady. “Indicative Energy Technology Assessment of UK Shale Gas Extraction.” Applied Energy 185 (2017): 1907-918. Web.

 

 

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