Reaction to MPs’ report calling for fracking halt on climate and environmental grounds

This morning a report by the Environmental Audit Committee of the House of Commons called for a moratorium on fracking because of risks to the climate and the environment.

Supporters of a halt to fracking welcomed the report but reaction from the industry has been critical.

  • Onshore Energy Services Group
  • UK Onshore OIl and Gas
  • Ineos
  • Institute of Directors
  • Professor Quentin Fisher, University of Leeds
  • Friends of the Earth
  • MPs Julian Huppert and Alan Whitehead
  • Inquiry contributor, Paul Mobbs

Lee Petts, chief executive of the Onshore Energy Services Group, a trade association representing small businesses in the onshore oil and gas supply chain

“We are very disappointed with this report, which appears to ignore crucial expert evidence about the safety and regulation of shale gas and other forms of energy extraction.

Its timing, and the haste with which the inquiry was undertaken, coupled with conclusions that could almost have been written in advance, all suggest that this is just a fig leaf for an attack intended to torpedo the Infrastructure Bill.

There can be no justification for a further fracking moratorium. Every aspect of shale gas extraction has been carefully and thoroughly assessed in the last three and a half years, with a range of independent academics and institutions all concluding that it can be undertaken safely. Further delay now will only mean that Britain continues to miss out on the environmental and economic benefits of domestically produced shale gas.”

The future prospects of supply chain SMEs are being put in jeopardy by elected representatives using shale gas as a political football, threatening jobs and deterring investment.”

  • The OESG wrote to MPs urging them not to support amendments to the Infrastructure Bill.

Ken Cronin, chief executive of the industry body  UKOOG
“This rushed report ignores the fact that gas is not just a source of electricity but has a major impact on everyday life with respect to products we use, to heat our homes, the cooking we do and the jobs it sustains in industry. The report also ignores most of the evidence of a properly regulated and safe industry in the UK and that gas and renewables work together.

“Calling for a moratorium achieves only one thing – increasing the levels of gas coming from outside the UK at a substantially higher environmental cost and with significant economic consequences. The Government has already announced that the next shale gas sites will not only be regulated by the four different regulators in line with 17 EU directives, requiring up to eight environmental permits per site, but also will be overseen by independent academics. No evidence exists of a failure in the current multi-regulated arrangements.”

Tom Crotty, Director of Ineos
“The UK needs Shale gas and we know that INEOS has the skills to safely extract it from the ground without damaging the environment. We have committed to consultation with local communities and to give them 6% of the entire revenue from our Shale gas wells. Without Shale gas, UK manufacturing will start to collapse so we need to kick start the Shale gas industry, not put it on hold”

“This was a missed opportunity. The committee deliberately sought out views that focused on concerns about water quality, emissions and geological integrity and so produced a partisan and partial report. The committee refused to see Ineos and didn’t look hard enough at the massive decline in the UK’s manufacturing base and the country’s desperate need for shale gas to reduce energy costs and revitalise industry”

Institute of Directors
“The recommendations of the EAC go against the findings of the Environment Agency, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that a properly regulated shale industry can manage environmental risks and actually help us to reduce carbon emissions.

This hopelessly misguided report completely fails to recognise that by refusing to extract our own gas by fracking, the only results will be that the UK imports more gas from abroad. It also ignores the important use of natural gas in heating our homes and the UK’s manufacturing industries.  Our political leaders already have all the information they need to decide that shale is an important part of our energy mix, and should push ahead for a well-regulated fracking industry that creates jobs and reduces our reliance on imported gas.”

Professor Quentin Fisher, University of Leeds
Quoted by the BBC, he said the committee was putting “the “ill-informed views of anti-fracking groups” ahead of evidence-based scientific studies. “Gas will be a significant part of the UK’s energy mix for the foreseeable future and it is preferable that we are as self-sufficient as possible Hopefully, MPs will reject the findings of this report and allow UK citizens to receive the economic and social benefits that shale gas extraction could bring.”

Donna Hume,  Friends of the Earth

told the FT: “The call for a UK moratorium by senior cross-party MPs is a further blow to an industry still reeling from the recent ban on fracking in New York State due to health risks. The truth is people do not want a high-impact fossil fuel industry that would leave a legacy of pollution and disruption and would lock the world into further climate change.”

Lib Dem MP for Cambridge, Julian Huppert MPJulian Huppert

Labour MP for Southampton Test, Alan WhiteheadAlanWhitehead

Paul Mobbs, a contributor to the EAC’s inquiry, writes in the Ecologist
While the EAC’s new report certainly excels above previous reports by the Energy and Climate or Economic Affairs committees, it still contains some serious errors and omissions. He adds: The purpose of the Environmental Audit Committee is to consider how government policy contribute to environmental protection and sustainable development, and to audit their performance. In my view the Committee haven’t done that.

They did not seek to quantify the full range of impacts of the various ‘unconventional’ oil and gas technologies currently planned for development across Britain. And it has to be said, the Committee have made some good recommendations in their – admittedly rushed – report. However, they also appeared to accept evidence which was highly questionable.

Perhaps my greatest difficulty with the EAC’s report is that it largely concentrates on climate change and carbon emissions. That completely misses the broad range of impacts unconventional fossil fuels create.

We could completely eradicate the fugitive emissions from unconventional oil and gas, making it some of the cleanest fossil fuel production in the world, and the problems it creates would still make it highly damaging.

‘Low carbon’ or ‘green completion‘ unconventional oil and gas production would still generate large quantities of toxic and hazardous materials – with as yet no identified treatment facility or disposal location. More here

[updated at 11.00 on 26/1/15 to include statements from Ineos, UKOOG, Friends of the Earth and tweets]

[Updated at 14.30 to add comment by Paul Mobbs and the Institute of Directors and on 2/2/15 to correct a typo in OESG]

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