The United Kingdom has opened up huge sections of the country to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and handed out 159 new licences for oil and natural gas exploration Thursday.
The British Parliament voted Wednesday to allow fracking under Britain’s national parks by a vote of 298 to 261. There were no fracking licences awarded in Scotland, which has a moratorium against fracking.
“At the beginning of this century, we were energy independent, producing enough oil and gas from the North Sea to provide for everyone in the UK” the chief executive of United Kingdom Onshore Oil and Gas told The Guardian. “Today we are dependent for nearly 50 percent of our oil and gas from overseas and that is going to rise to over 75% in the next 15 years without further onshore production.”
Energy consulting groups estimate that fracking will create 74,000 new jobs and safeguard another 100,000. Fracking would offer up to $16.5 million in benefits to local governments and communities per fracking site.
In the United States, government budgets at the Federal level will see an extra 1 percent in revenue annually by 2020 due to fracking according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The U.S. has reduced greenhouse gas emissions more than in any other country, a fact which even the Sierra Club acknowledges, though they refuse to attribute the decline in emissions to natural gas that they oppose politically.For every ton of carbon dioxide emissions cut by solar power, fracking has cut 13 tons.
Despite the benefits to the planet, environmental groups are already furious with the U.K. government’s decision. The government’s commitment to fracking “is completely incompatible with tackling climate change and the agreement reached in Paris” Rose Dickinson of Friends of the Earth told ABC News.
Studies have shown that the major environmental objections to fracking aren’t substantive. Fracking does not contaminate drinking water or even cause detectable earthquakes. Fracking has major environmental benefits too, and is responsible for nearly 20 percent of the drop in American carbon dioxide emissions.
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