Why fracking is not the answer
Sir, – Frank Devine (July 4th) in recommending that Ireland embarks on fracking for shale gas graciously acknowledges a career engaged with oil and gas corporations, so at least we know where he stands.
His recommendation, however, should be rejected. The Paris Climate Conference in 2015 concluded with a multilateral commitment by 195 countries to combat climate change. The European Union has set a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2030. Rather than embarking on new gas extraction, governments should invest in renewable energy, especially solar, wind and tidal. Progress is remarkable as Germany and even the UK increasingly report days where energy consumption from renewable sources exceeds that from fossil fuels. Storage technology is also improving dramatically.
The fracking process carries substantial risk of methane escapes. Methane is 10 times worse than CO2 in contributing to global warming. Critics cite aquifer contamination and the pollution of drinking water as another concern. In Lancashire trials were halted after reports of earth tremors.
The process uses millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals. Once used for fracking, the water is contaminated and safe disposal is a major challenge. The impact of industrial infrastructure and mass movements of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) transporting water or fracked shale gas in areas sensitive on grounds of habitat, agriculture or tourism would be severe and unsustainable.
Ireland should reduce its dependency on fossil fuels and impose a complete moratorium on fracking. It would be grossly irresponsible to exploit another fossil fuel that will do nothing to mitigate catastrophic climate change. – Yours, etc,
Dr SIMON SWEENEY,
University of York,
A chara, – Frank Devine suggests that Ireland become a nation that embraces hydraulic fracturing of shale (fracking) to acquire more petroleum products and to improve the Irish economy.
In his argument he neglects to mention that fracking pollutes the groundwater, causes increased seismic activity and materially benefits the petrochemical industry. He argues that fuel is less expensive in the US than in Europe and therefore we should embrace fracking in Ireland. He ignores the realities of taxation by European governments on fuel to encourage the use of public transport while the American government subsidises the fuel and automotive industries.
To argue that fracking would be of benefit to those of us who live in Ireland is delusional and cynical. If fracking were to be embraced here we would benefit from all the real costs of this misguided policy – a polluted water table, denuded land and increased air pollution. – Yours, etc,