British environmentalists are panicking this week as hydraulic fracturing companies prepare to start fracking in the middle of the country.
Environmental groups Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth claim to have gathered more than 186,000 signatures on a petition citing the alleged environmental impacts of fracking. The groups are using the petition to claim the fracking has no “democratic mandate.”
“Fracking poses risks to people and the environment, and politicians in Westminster shouldn’t force this risky technology on any community,” spokespeople for both groups said in a joint press statement.
The British Geological Survey has been investigating green claims since May and found no evidence to substantiate their claims.
The conflict is over an English local government that approved the first permit allowing fracking for natural gas in May. This is the first permit to frack for shale gas in western Europe since 2011, as the United Kingdom is one of the few countries in Europe in which fracking is legally permitted. No U.K. local governments has given fracking companies permits since 2011 due to protests.
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 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.
The U.K has an estimated 26 trillion cubic feet of shale gas reserves, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Energy consulting groups estimate fracking will create 74,000 new jobs and safeguard another 100,000. Fracking has the potential to generate between $10 billion and $74.6 billion for the British economy and $26 billion in new tax revenue for the British government, according to the studies. Research estimates fracking could offer up to $16.5 million in benefits to local governments and communities.
Fracking in the U.S. supported more than 2.1 million jobs in 2012 and is projected to support 3.9 million jobs by 2025, according to a study by the data analysis firm IHS. The study also found fracking created $284 billion in annual economic activity in 2012 and is projected to create $533 billion by 2025, increasing government tax revenue by an estimated $1.6 trillion. American 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.
Falling energy prices caused by fracking have saved the average American household $747.30 each year since 2008, according to a report published earlier this month by the EIA.
Despite the benefits to the planet, 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 the environmental group Friends of the Earth told ABC News.
Studies have shown major environmental objections to fracking aren’t substantive. Fracking does not contaminate drinking water or cause detectable earthquakes. Fracking has major environmental benefits, and is responsible for nearly 20 percent of the drop in American carbon dioxide emissions.
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