Politics

Ministers questioned (again) on KM8 fracking and Lancashire protest policing costs

pnr policing 170720 DoD

Policing of protests outside Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site near Blackpool, 20 July 2017. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Fracking Week in Parliament

MPs asked ministers yesterday when the Government would make decisions on fracking at Third Energy’s KM8 well in North Yorkshire and funding for policing protests outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site near Blackpool

The replies to both were: “in due course”.

DrillOrDrop reported that similar questions were asked before Christmas with similar responses.

The Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas asked about the timetable for the recommendation by the Energy Secretary, Greg Clark, on fracking at KM8 at Kirby Misperton. She also asked whether Mr Clark would published his recommendation.

The Energy Minister, Richard Harrington, replied:

“There no set timeframe for the Department [of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy] to provide its response to the Oil and Gas Authority in this instance. The Department is carefully considering the evidence provided by Third Energy and will respond appropriately in due course.”

The Lancashire MP, Nigel Evans (above left), asked when the Home Secretary would decide whether to award special funding to the county’s police force for the cost of anti-fracking protests.

The Home Office minister, Nick Hurd said:

“This is currently being reviewed by HMICFRS [Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services] and a decision will be made in due course.”

Shale gas and climate change

Dr Lucas also asked a question about the compatibility of shale gas extraction with domestic and international climate change commitments.

Mr Harrington replied:

“The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) concluded that shale gas production at a significant scale is compatible with carbon budgets if certain conditions are met, which the Committee have set out as three “tests”. We believe that our robust regulatory regime and determination to meet our carbon budgets mean those three tests can and will be met.”

CCC report

The CCC report (link here) actually concluded:

“onshore petroleum extraction on a significant scale is not compatible with UK climate targets unless three tests are met”.

These tests were:

  • Well development, production and decommissioning emissions must be strictly limited
  • Overall gas consumption must remain in line with UK carbon budgets
  • Emissions from shale gas production emissions must be accommodated within UK carbon budgets

Peer “underwhelmed” by PM’s environment speech

170925 pnr green monday Jenny Jones

Baroness Jones (left) with anti-fracking protesters in Lancashire. Photo: Jenny Jones

The Prime Minister’s speech on the environment disappointed the Green Peer, Baroness Jones. She told the House of Lords:

“Being an optimist, I had hoped for some concrete measures in the speech, but, sadly, it was underwhelming.

“I do not understand how the Prime Minister can claim that we as a country are leading on climate change when she is about to give the green light to more fracking, we are still banning onshore wind development, we are still trying to build new nuclear power stations and we are giving tax breaks to oil and gas.”

“No future for fossil fuels”

Tax breaks and IINEOS’s decision to seek a judicial review on the fracking ban in Scotland were raised by the Green MSP Patrick Harvie in a question to Scotland’s First Minister.

He criticised the tax breaks and said fossil fuel companies were “at the root of our environmental crisis”.

“Is it not time to recognise that we can no longer invest our future in the fossil fuel industry?”

He asked Nicola Sturgeon:

“Will the First Minister accept that it is time to embrace a positive, fossil fuel-free future for Scotland?”

Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government supported the oil and gas sector “appropriately because of its contribution to the economy and jobs. It was unfair, she said, to criticise the Scottish Government for a lack of support for renewable energy. On INEOS’s legal action, she said:

“We are confident in the decision that we have taken and the process behind it.”


Transcripts

Thanks to TheyWorkForYou.com for the transcripts

Question by Caroline Lucas MP, Green, Brighton, Pavilion

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Direction to the Oil and Gas Authority of 30 November 2017, relating to consent for fracking operations at the KM8 well in Ryedale, what the timetable is for his consultation with the Oil and Gas Authority; and if he will publish his recommendation to the Oil and Gas Authority on the hydraulic fracturing consent conditions required under section 4A of the Petroleum Act 1998 when that recommendation is made.

Reply by Richard Harrington MP, Energy Minister, Conservative, Watford

There no set timeframe for the Department to provide its response to the Oil and Gas Authority in this instance. The Department is carefully considering the evidence provided by Third Energy and will respond appropriately in due course.

Written answer, House of Commons, 12 January 2018, link to transcript

Question by Caroline Lucas MP, Green, Brighton, Pavilion

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the compatibility of shale gas extraction with the domestic and international climate change commitments; and if he will make a statement.

Reply by Richard Harrington MP, Energy Minister, Conservative, Watford

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) concluded that shale gas production at a significant scale is compatible with carbon budgets if certain conditions are met, which the Committee have set out as three “tests”. We believe that our robust regulatory regime and determination to meet our carbon budgets mean those three tests can and will be met.

The Government’s response to the CCC Report can be viewed through the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/651148/20171005_-_Progress_report_response.pdf.

Written answer, House of Commons, 12 January 2018, link to transcript

Question by Nigel Evans MP, Conservative, Ribble Valley

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when she plans to make a decision on whether to award Special Grant Funding for the Lancashire Constabulary to cover the costs of the anti-fracking protests in the area.

Reply by Nick Hurd, Home Office Minister, Conservative, Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner

The Lancashire PCC [Police and Crime Commissioner] has submitted an application for Special Grant funding for the costs of policing the anti-fracking protests in Lancashire. This is currently being reviewed by HMICFRS and a decision will be made in due course.

Written answer, House of Commons, 12 January 2018, link to transcript

Extract of speech by Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, Green

Responding to Theresa May’s speech on the environment, Baroness Jones said:

Being an optimist, I had hoped for some concrete measures in the speech, but, sadly, it was underwhelming. I am told that it was very lyrical: I did not pick that up. I did spot that absolutely nothing new was said on climate change and there were no strong measures, or even suggestions, for legislative change that could actually make a difference. I do not understand how the Prime Minister can claim that we as a country are leading on climate change when she is about to give the green light to more fracking, we are still banning onshore wind development, we are still trying to build new nuclear power stations and we are giving tax breaks to oil and gas. None of those things will help us have a cleaner, greener, safer planet.

Debate on waste: Chinese Import Ban, House of Lords, 11 January 2018, link to transcript

Question by Patrick Harvie MSP, Green, Glasgow

Plastic pollution is utterly connected to our society’s economic addiction to oil and gas. Fossil fuels and industrial chemicals are two sides of the same coin. This week, we learned that one oil industry voice wants decommissioned rigs simply to be dumped in the sea, which would result in millions of tonnes of industrial waste, while cotton buds made the headlines. Another fossil fuel company wants to take the Government to court for protecting Scotland from fracking.

The UK Government and the Scottish Government like to claim credit for environmental action, but they also want ever bigger tax breaks for the fossil fuel companies that are at the root of our environmental crisis. Is it not time to recognise that we can no longer invest our future in the fossil fuel industry and that we should, instead, join the hundreds of cities, institutions and countries that are truly leading? They include New York, which this week confirmed that it is taking the fight to the fossil fuel industry with legal action and a programme of divestment. Will the First Minister accept that it is time to embrace a positive, fossil fuel-free future for Scotland?

Reply by The Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, SNP, Glasgow Southside

We support our oil and gas sector appropriately because it is important to our economy and lots of jobs depend on it. However, whether members agree or disagree with that, I genuinely do not think that it is fair to criticise the Scottish Government for a lack of action in our support for renewable energy.

If anything, we are a world leader when it comes to the transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. For example, in the programme for government we set out our ambition for electric and low-emission vehicles, on which we will take even greater action in the longer term. As Patrick Harvie has alluded, we have also taken the decision not to allow fracking in Scotland. Given this week’s announcement of the judicial review, I will not say more about that other than that we are confident in the decision that we have taken and the process behind it.

We will continue to lead by example. The issue is important not just for this generation but for generations to come. We all have a responsibility to do the right thing, and this Government will continue to make sure that we do it.

First Minister’s Question Time, Scottish Parliament, 11 January 2018, link to transcript

18 replies »

  1. I am interested to see how the three climate change tests will be satisfied when our government is about to be challenged in court about missing the previous carbon budgets and is set to fail the next.

    • Yes KatT; the first two budgets were met easily by the cutting of coal power, the next are significantly more complex as it will mean curbing ALL fossil fuel emissions; tough one for the current governance as they are propped up by the industry. The Holy Grail of carbon capture is not fit for purpose to enable production to meet carbon targets, so it’s a dead duck.

      I would interested to see what the remedy is for failing to comply to a system created by the UK governance and rolled out to the rest of the world? If we do not meet our targets it will be more ‘egg’ on the faces of the ‘bosses’ and more blah blah blah

    • Good point. Another issue is this – the test that “Overall gas consumption must remain in line with UK carbon budget” seems to imply that climate change is a problem solvable by keeping to UK carbon budgets. Of course it is global carbon emissions that matter (greenhouse gas emissions including fugitive methane). If shale gas substitutes for imported gas what then happens to the gas that would have been imported? The British government has no power to ensure that the gas that would have been imported will stay in the ground in its country of extraction and what will happen is that it will be re-routed and sold and burned somewhere else. Irrespective of UK carbon budgets UK shale gas would then be additional and make the climate crisis worse. This “test” is a fig leaf like so much else in the charade called “climate policy”. The only policy that would work – if it were possible to get it adopted – would be a global upstream cap that limited what would be allowed to come out of the ground at a global level and brought it down rapidly. In fact as Oil Change International have shown ANY new opening up of oil, gas or coal adds to the climate crisis as there is already enough already developed fossil fuel production capacity in the world which, if fully exploited, will shoot the climate over 2 degrees.

  2. It becomes clearer by the day that our politicians don’t have a clue what they’re talking about. They repeat parrot-fashion the lies and platitudes of the fossil fuel industry while completely ignoring the mountain of evidence to the contrary. Just last week, following a comprehensive study, those well-known alarmists, NASA scientists, showed that rising emissions from the oil and gas industry are mainly responsible for the increase in atmospheric methane yet our government still insists that wholesale fracking is the answer. Those that should have the best interests of the country at heart are either so thick they can’t grasp complex problems or so arrogant, venal and self-serving they don’t believe the problems will affect them because they have money. We’re being led by gullible fools – and dangerous fools at that.

    • Hi guys, I just got back from USA visiting friends and looking at some amazing technology. One of the most astounding was this guy who is getting fire at 1500 degrees from radio waves and salt water! Yep! Salt water! The most abundant water on the planet and will run a car, a heating system and costs virtually nothing? This is just one advance amongst many, often they are complementary, the one assists production of the other. The link is between parentheses, but still clickable.

      ( https://m.youtube.com/watch?t=62s&v=Y3wwdmwv0zk )

      Amongst other things I saw working rodin coils, new high efficient generators graphene batteries and some innovative blade free noiseless and beautiful looking wind and tidal wave generators, heat and electromagnetic differential generators and just amazing people! Europe next week!
      Forget the fossil fuel oligarchy hype, innovative energy is virtually free and it’s right here right now, go see for yourselves.

  3. It doesn’t look like anyone asked why the nation would continue importing fracked gas rather than produce it domestically when this is clearly not in alignment with the country’s domestic and international climate change commitments. Why focus on domestic gas when it is international gas that has the higher carbon footprint? Seems unusual.

  4. Not clear at all EKT. The country’s domestic and international climate change commitments are best serve by winding down all dependence on fossil fuel consumption from whatever source and certainly not ramping up a whole new onshore industry that only works (commercially and investment-wise) if you keep multiplying the number of wells for the next 10-20 years until you’ve got thousands of them. An insane and dirty prospect for this country. You seem to keep assuming that there is zero emissions from new gas-fields. Please prove that importing gas from one gas-field is dirtier and more environmentally impactful that having two gas-fields and two countrysides fracked to death.

    [Comment corrected at poster’s request]

  5. Err, because PhilipP, if USA is producing gas for it’s own consumption rather than it’s own consumption plus export to UK, it doesn’t decide to open the gas field that was going to export-unless they see it as a tourist attraction. That is pretty basic economics and should not require proving. (And of course, that is without the carbon footprint of transportation.) But if you wish to risk the recent maritime disaster seen in Asia, and ignore those basic economics of supply and demand you may arrive at your position.

    • Yes an Iranian oil tanker mysteriously bumps into a cargo ship…..all crew dead, no one to tell the tale….it’s a narrative 😉

    • The Sanchi event is a pretty serious disaster though, highlighting the risks of any kinds of transport. Of course the risks of disasters in populated (onshore) gas-field zones are just as real. Consider Aliso Canyon and the Brazillian road-tanker explosion or many other accidents.

      What intrigues me is how, when gas or LPG is under the full control of the petrochemical companies (for transportation), we here no end of the argument claiming ‘of course’ there are all the extra emissions involved in transporting the fuel across the world and yet we never here a peep about all the emissions involved in gas-field production, processing and distribution, as if none of that (bad PR stuff) exists.

  6. The gas/oil field emissions occur whether the gas/oil is transported across oceans, or not. Unless you have a magic system of transport, bringing any “stuff” from the other side of the world produces a pretty big carbon foot-print, which becomes an unnecessary addition if you might be able to preclude it, by producing locally. Similar to not opening export production sites if your potential export market doesn’t need your product.
    Is this a logic free zone?

    • Be careful of generalizations regarding transport and carbon emissions. Apparently the carbon footprint of growing strawberries in Spain and importing them to Sweden is smaller than growing them in Sweden!

  7. Apparently it is a logic free zone Martin . You just admitted that “The gas/oil field emissions occur whether the gas/oil is transported across oceans, or not”. So the proposal is to have gas-fields operating in two countries instead of one, with proportionally higher emissions then than what you will get from one gas-field plus tanker shipment.

  8. Nil points PhilipP.
    I fail to see how you came to that conclusion. I have explained the logistics in very simple terms and if you can not understand that, I find that pretty astounding. But, I suspect you can understand it pretty well and are merely trying to cover up your previous attempts that tried to produce a smokescreen without any smoke. Anyway, not important-I suspect others who want to, can make up their own minds.

    • It’s your failure to see it then Martin. Not my problem. That you mislead others with such a flawed position does not astound me, I see you persisting with that sort of thing all the time. To be fair the main weakness in your argument comes with the lack of understanding and acknowledgement of the impacts, the pollution, the emissions, and the other risks associated with kicking off a whole new industry of this kind here. You have downplayed those risks at every opportunity just as Jim Ratcliffe does.

      You also don’t seem to understand that the infrastructure is not only in place in America they have drilled and completed many more wells than they have fracked (as yet). That’s why they have built up a resilience to up and down turns in the market as they’re not starting with drilling from scratch during the upturns in demand. Those deeds have been done and there is (in effect) spare capacity there. It would take over ten years for England to get anywhere near that stage (if gas recovery was favorable – a big ‘if’). The drilling hasn’t been done yet, there are no long laterals yet, the roads here will probably not be resilient enough to stand all the haulage, the waste disposal issues will be a big problem and the population and their care for the beloved countryside means the thousand well scenario probably won’t happen anyway, not to mention the population density being over ten times that, on average, of fracked areas in the USA. Less than a thousand wells and it simply won’t be a game changer as an industrial strategy anyway. Resistance will just grow and probably bring the government down if it come to all out confrontation.

      The chance of you ever getting beyond your ‘basic economics’, to view the bigger picture with some clarity, would be a fine thing Martin. Then there’s the even bigger picture – that of climate change. The costs of its influence storms, floods, wildfires and other influences (2017 being their worst year yet) now being costed in the 100s of Billions of dollars for the USA alone.

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