Currently showing: Sustainable energy > Fracking


28 Jun 13 13:52

The UK government recently announced its plans to support the Fracking industry with investment and tax breaks. These were the headlines in most of the newspapers in and around the UK (maybe even in some other parts of the world).

Now, I have observed people's reactions to this announcement and have found there are 3 distinct reactions emerging from these headlines and I will give you a quick overview:

Group 1 - What are you Frack(ing) talking about?
This group will not have heard about Fracking before. The funny name elicits some mistrust in the concept which stems from the inherent distrust we have for the power companies and from the people delivering the message (politicians) compounded by the biased slant that the general media presents the concept of Fracking in to the reader.

Group 2 - "Beatlejuice, Beatlejuice, Beatlejuice"….Noooooo
Actually, this group sees it as "Fracking, Fracking, Fracking…….Noooo". For those of you not familiar with Beatlejuice, it is a creature from the beyond, hellish and deadly in nature. When mentioning his name 3 times he appears and ruins your life (basically). As is obvious, this is the group that absolutely fear the consequences of Fracking and describe them as potentially catastrophic to nature and its surroundings. These people are OK with Fracking.

Group 3 - Money, money, money…. oh, and power for the people
This is again a Beatlejuice reference except these people have the potential for massive gains and do not believe there is a risk in this process. They see this as a legitimate new source for fuel to help close the power supply gap and something that could kick-start a whole new industry, create new jobs and make more money. There people are totally FOR Fracking.

We basically have a stand-off between two of these groups. Those for that are for and those that are against Fracking and the group that throws the biggest tantrum come out victorious. Why do I say something so cynical? Well, the problem is that both sides have merit and make sense. Fracking can definitely help alleviate the power supply problems faced in many areas and can help create new industries and thus jobs. There is also merit in claims that the impacts on the environment can be devastating and the cost might be too great.

Healthy debate is always very good and it looks like the Pro-Fracking camp is winning (at this point) but personally I think we are missing the point. For the moment the debate on Fracking has very little to do with the genuine merits of Fracking and more to do with personal agendas. The Pro-Fracking group say they can solve the energy, employment and economy problems with this which is obviously something politicians can buy into and sell to their voters. The opposition to Fracking have to justify their existence and counter with opinions on how it will destroy the environment and only line the pockets of a select few.

That is what makes it so difficult to choose a side. I am still undecided on whether to oppose Fracking or support it. Some of the main topics that I think are being missed are that people should realise that this is not a renewable source (i.e. it will run out and we are right where we started), it is a capital intensive industry to build (lots of infrastructure) which means the costs will most likely not be any better than conventional processes and that it is not clear how the citizens will be benefited by this new process. There is no realistic expectation that energy costs will reduce or at least stay stable, there is a realistic risk that the environmental fallout could be severe and the chance of participating in this new industry is limited to a very few major companies.

Why should citizens support Fracking then? Are you pro or against Fracking and why?


Category: Sustainable energy: Fracking


3 Comments

Paritosh - 28 Jun 2013, 8:44 p.m.

Fracking could really solve a big problem for countries relying heavily on imports of "natural gas"... Now, the funny thing that I've observed is...

1. Anti Fracking group winning - I thought it right too!! Come on... I mean, all that chemicals and sand mixed with water to bore a hole through the rocks to reach the source!! Its naturally gonna seep through the water tables around and pollute them.
2. Pro Fracking group winning - Seems right again... They dig deeper than at the level those water tables exist... But really? Could they vouch for the safety?

Now, the question is which truth should one believe in... Not everyone on this planet is expert on this topic. Result, we will be swayed by pro and anti propagandists.

Personally, the moment you plan to do something unnatural to the mother earth... It will solve a problem... But only for a short while...

Remember, forever is too big for a human life tenure and too short for existence of life on earth.

We have to decide cautiously.

As per my limited view.... I see it as a lesser evil... a short term solution to the energy crisis or economical crisis...

Concentration should be more on the renewable sources of energy if we choose to live longer instead of being on survival mode forever just for the sake of economics....

Daniel Martin Eckhart - 30 Jun 2013, 2:24 p.m.

Posted this a while back - about fracking fluid: https://openminds.swissre.com/story/62/about-fracking-fluid

By now the evidence seems to me pretty clear - fracking is dangerous. But let's put nature aside for a moment and just look at the money angle, the economy. Then what should be done, at the very least, is to NOT give tax incentives and some such to fracking companies. IF companies are willing to go the fracking way, they should A) take the risk and B) do their best to bring a good product to market. One test should be in the true cost of the product. Sell it at the cost you need to remain profitable. If there are no tax incentives, no subsidies, no special deals - would fracked product be competitive?

Rashunda Tramble - 1 Jul 2013, 8:02 a.m.

"One test should be in the true cost of the product. Sell it at the cost you need to remain profitable. If there are no tax incentives, no subsidies, no special deals – would fracked product be competitive?"

Brilliant take on this. I totally agree...I've started closing my mind off to the nature side (as hard as it is to do) and looking clearly at the economic side.

The only thing I worry about is that to ensure profitability, the frackers would offer extremely low-wage jobs to people in areas where jobs are scarce. For example, a would-be fracking industry is being discussed in North Carolina, even though it would be a few years away if it were to happen (http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/03/25/1954194/frackings-future.html). Add to that the news that NC just dropped out of the long-term unemployment benefits plan (http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/06/30/4137390/north-carolina-will-become-first.html#storylink=cpy"):

"A state unemployment overhaul that takes effect this weekend disqualifies North Carolina from receiving the federal benefits intended for those unemployed longer than 26 weeks. Federal law cuts off aid to states that don’t maintain their current benefit system."

(snip)

"The overhaul scales back maximum unemployment benefits to workers by nearly one-third, from $535 a week to $350 a week, and reduces the maximum weeks of benefits from 26 weeks to between 12 and 20 weeks, depending on the state’s unemployment rate."

And you have a recipe for companies to offer desperate folks minimum-wage jobs - who will take them - and in turn make a profit.

But again, I like the way you think.


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