Scotland’s socialist government announced Monday that it is considering a permanent ban of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which would effectively end thousands of new job prospects.
The ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) government literally reshuffled its cabinet early this month to move a minister who mildly supported fracking away from its energy department.
“Unless it can be proven beyond doubt that there is no risk to health, communities or the environment, there will be no fracking or UCG (underground coal gasification) extraction in Scotland,”a spokeswoman for Paul Wheelhouse, the new minister for business and energy, announced as the government’s new position.
Every major party in Scotland except the pro-business Conservatives supports a permanent ban on fracking, despite enormous potential for new jobs.
“Fracking would provide a boost for the economy and potentially thousands of new jobs. It seems like this opportunity will now sadly be lost,” Alexander Burnett, a Conservative Member of the Scottish Parliament, told The Courier Monday. “The rest of the U.K. is moving ahead and Scotland can’t afford to be left behind. It is time the SNP woke up to the potential of the shale gas industry.”
The U.K has an estimated 26 trillion cubic feet of shale gas reserves much of which is in Scotland, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Energy consulting groups estimate that fracking in Great Britain will create 74,000 new jobs and safeguard another 100,000. Fracking for oil has the potential to generate from $10 billion to $74.6 billion for the British economy and $26 billion in new tax revenue for the British government, according to the studies. Research estimates that fracking could offer up to $16.5 million in benefits to local governments and communities per fracking site.
In England, a local government approved the first natural gas fracking permit last week. This was the first permit issued to allow fracking for shale gas in Western Europe since 2011. The U.K. is one of the few countries in Europe in which fracking is legally permitted, but local governments have repeatedly declined to give fracking companies permits.
British Prime Minister David Cameron is eager to replicate the American fracking boom in hopes of reducing Britain’s reliance on imported gas and to pocket potentially enormous economic benefits. Energy analysts say that even in the most favorable circumstances, large scale development of fracking in the U.K is at least five to 10 years away due to legal and regulatory barriers.
Despite fracking’s documented ability to reduce the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that drive global warming, environmental groups are already furious with the local government’s decision. The U.K. 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.
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