Citing Carbon Targets, UK Lawmakers Want Fracking Delay

Citing Carbon Targets, UK Lawmakers Want Fracking DelayCiting Carbon Targets, UK Lawmakers Want Fracking Delay

Fracking shale for oil and gas should be put on hold in the UK because of risks to public health and the environment, a panel of lawmakers said, Bloomberg reported.

A moratorium on fracking is needed to prevent the UK from missing its carbon targets and allow time to stiffen regulations for the industry, Parliament’s cross-party Environmental Audit Committee said in a report Monday. It called for measures including a ban on venting methane, public disclosure of chemicals used for hydraulic fracturing, and a regulatory regime to be written specifically governing fracking.

“Fracking cannot be compatible with our long-term commitments to cut climate-changing emissions unless full-scale carbon-capture-and-storage technology is rolled out rapidly,” Committee Chairwoman Joan Walley, a member of the opposition Labour Party, said in a statement.

 “There are also huge uncertainties around the impact that fracking could have on water supplies, air quality and public health.”

The Conservative-led government has promoted fracking by Cuadrilla Resources Ltd., IGas Energy Plc and other companies by cutting taxes and opening up swathes of the countryside to bidding for drilling licenses. The Bowland basin in Lancashire alone is estimated to hold as much as 1,300 trillion cubic feet of gas, enough to meet UK demand for half a century.

Lawmakers will debate Monday an Infrastructure Bill that would allow fracking companies to drill deep under land without the owner’s permission.

 “The government is trying to rush through changes to the trespass laws that would allow companies to frack under people’s homes without permission,” Walley said. “This is profoundly undemocratic, and Parliament should protect the rights of citizens by throwing these changes out when they are debated later today.”

Members of Walley’s committee, who come from the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Greens, have submitted amendments to the bill that would restrict the development of fracking.

Separately, Labour has proposed its own amendments seeking to ban oil and gas fracking unless 13 gaps in regulation are filled.

“We called for a moratorium on fracking because it cannot be accommodated within our climate change obligations,” the committee said in its report. “A halt is also needed on environmental grounds, and it is essential that further independent studies into the impacts of fracking in the UK are completed to help resolve the environmental risk uncertainties.”

Only a handful of wells have been drilled to date, after opposition from campaigners who say boring into shale rock may contaminate water, cause earthquakes and hurt the countryside.

A Nov. 4 survey of more than 2,000 people showed just 26 percent support shale-gas extraction, with 45 percent expressing no opinion.