Tuesday, 10 September 2013

A Nuanced Stance on Fracking

During some talks recently at a party social event, the subject of fracking came up and I aired the pros and cons of the matter (and least some of them). What was clear though was that we could not allow the media (or the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion ) to dictate our policy and have us fall into a hysteria trap. Most particularly the policies should not be delivered to us via a hand descending through a parted cloud on a couple of stone tablets but rather by a combination of factual input and local considerations. Thus far the areas where fracking is likely to have an impact are the South Coast and Lancashire. At least down here on the South Coast the prime consideration should be the chalk mineralisation of the area and the interaction of this with the high water table. 

Pundits dusting off experience in the Bakken and Marcellus Shale in the US are talking apples and oranges.

So with the Glasgow conference coming up I whipped up the genesis of a motion (not in conferencese as yet) that calls for a nuanced and informed stance on the issue. 

Here goes:

I move that this party….

….adopts a nuanced approach to the issue of fracking. Such a nuanced approach would address the two key issues: potential contamination of the water-table and danger of increased seismic activity.
On contamination of the water table the approach would be that fracking would not be undertaken where there is a close proximity depth-wise between the water table and the layers in which the fracking is being undertaken. (For instance the Bakken Shale in North Dakota is located at depths of 2kms, so clearly well below the water table). Acceptable definitions of depth proximity would need to be established further nuanced to the permeability of the rock in between the fracking depth and the water table (e.g. chalk).
On seismic activity the approach would be that historical data on frequency and intensity of seismic activity in a region destined for fracking be determined. Standards for acceptability in increase in either of these two measures then be set. If the measures are breached by increased activity triggered by fracking, then all fracking in that region would cease immediately and indefinitely".  

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