Fracking Week in Westminster – w/e 30th October 2015

FWIWmontageIn this Fracking Week in Westminster:

  • Call for a shale gas ban in areas supplying water to Hull and East Yorkshire
  • Impact of energy prices on the UK steel industry
  • Green Investment Bank interests in fracking
  • Shale gas and carbon emissions

Thanks to TheyWorkForYou for the transcripts

27th October 2015

Fracking regulations

Second Delegated Legislation Committee debates regulations on Draft Onshore Hydraulic Fracturing (Protected Areas) Regulations 2015. DrillOrDrop report and extended report on Byline.com

28th October 2015

Debate on the steel industry

DavidDaviesDavid Davies Conservative, Monmouth
I was glad to hear words in support of the industry from across the Floor because we all have a responsibility in this matter. It is no good blaming the Government for everything; Opposition Members have to be able to challenge themselves and some of their colleagues, who are opposed to fracking on rather spurious green grounds.

Tom Blenkinsop Labour, Middlesbrough South and East ClevelandTomBlenkinsop
In Teesside, we are next to the Durham coalfield, under the North sea, which could be gasified. Shale gas is coming to this country from America only because America does not have the capacity to retain it. America will stop exporting gas to this nation in five to 10 years, so we need our own gas supply.

When we set that up, we need to sequestrate that gas to provide cheap energy and to remove the threat from green taxes. If we do that, we would create a renaissance of industry on Teesside and across the UK.

29th October 2015

Written questions

DianaJohnsonQuestion by Diana Johnson, Labour, Kingston upon Hull North
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, if she will make it her policy to ensure that no shale gas extraction is allowed in areas which supply the aquifers for drinking water to Hull and East Yorkshire.

Reply by Andrea Leadsom, Minister, Energy and Climate ChangeAndreaLeadsom
The Department for Energy and Climate Change has indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.

Reply on 2nd November 2015:

In the UK, we have been successfully regulating for gas and oil drilling for over 50 years and have tough regulations in place to prevent water contamination.

All hydraulic fracturing operations will require a groundwater activity permit. The Environment Agency will not grant a permit where the risks to groundwater are unacceptable. They have powers to impose conditions to ensure proper protection or to prohibit activities which they consider to pose unacceptable risks.

The Infrastructure Act 2015 required the Government to specify protected groundwater source areas within which hydraulic fracturing cannot take place, which we did in draft regulations debated in the House on 27 October. They define these areas as being equivalent to Source Protection Zones 1, which applies to those areas close to drinking water sources where there is the greatest risk associated with groundwater contamination. This will reinforce the regulatory approach, as it is consistent with the approach taken by the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales to control the risks from other groundwater activities.

MargaretFerrierQuestion by Margaret Ferrier, SNP, Rutherglen and Hamilton West
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the level of energy prices on the steel industry; and if he will make a statement.

Reply by Anna Soubry, Minister, Business, Innovation and SkillsAnnaSoubry
The Government recognises that energy costs are among the factors that have an impact on the competitiveness of the steel industry and for that reason has provided over £50 million compensation to steel makers for energy costs.

We are also in advanced discussions with the European Commission to approve millions of pounds of further compensation for energy intensive industries, including steel makers. Many years of underinvestment in the UK’s energy infrastructure has meant wholesale prices of energy are higher in the UK than in some other EU countries. The Government is committed to addressing this long term issue through, for example, new nuclear plants and our support for shale gas extraction.

Debate on the Green Investment Bank

KevinBrennanKevin Brennan, shadow minister, Business, Innovation and Skills
I think the Minister accepted that it is possible, under the current privatisation plans, that the Green Investment Bank might be involved in investing in fracking projects.

George Freeman, junior minister, Business, Innovation and SkillsGeorgeFreeman
I want to take specific advice, but I will write to the hon. Gentleman on whether any constraints are envisaged on what may or may not constitute green investment. My understanding is that we want to give the bank the freedom to invest in a range of different technologies. Indeed, part of the bank’s mission is to be able to catalyse investment in a much wider range of technologies that will be key to building a 21st-century green economy.

House of Lords debate on global climate change

Motion by Lord Hunt of Chesterton that this House takes note of the case for action on global climate change and in particular its impact on the urban environment in the United Kingdom

LordBorwickLord Borwick Conservative
There are much bigger decisions that we can take to help reduce emissions globally. Some of them involve being bold at home. For instance, we should fully embrace shale extraction. But equally as important is encouraging others to do the same to reduce reliance on coal. Sharing shale gas technology will allow it to develop as rapidly as possible and be used worldwide.

A paper for the Centre for Policy Studies entitled, Why Every Serious Environmentalist Should Favour Fracking, by the noted University of California, Berkeley scientist Professor Muller, who I should declare I know personally, shows that shale gas extraction will actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A global switch to natural gas would be a big step forward.

Updated 2/11/15 to include reply from the Department of Energy and Climate Change to a question by Diana Johnson

2 replies »

  1. So I read Prof Muller work and paper on shale gas.
    He makes some good points but he is way off the mark.
    He may be right regarding the pm2.5 and cleaner than coal. That is providing coal production is slowed. It is not. The USA produces just as much coal as before but sells it abroad.
    He does not examine the entire process from start to finish.
    Water and land contamination he suggests can be mitigated by bigger fines!
    He suggests shale is the way forward because it can be implimented immediately and cheaply. He says the best way forward should be energy conservation and finding ways to reduce overall energy consumption.
    He glosses over the environmental consequences of waste disposal.
    He seems to think wind and solar are not taken up because of the visual affect and compares it to the Christmas trees that are left in the ground totally ignoring the impact shale gas development has on the landscape and communities.
    Wish I could sit across from him and explain where he is so wrong!

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