Here at Easy Green Towers we are dedicated to proving that the average person in the street can green their lifestyle in small steps whilst saving time, money and waste. However, there are bigger, darker green issues out there which we know a lot of you care about or would just like to know more about.
From this idea ‘Tales from The Dark Green Side’ has been born. We will regularly bring you articles about green issues in the news, stories about people living more alternative eco-lifestyles and features about environmental campaigners.
Something that has been in the news a lot lately is the practice of fracking. Apart from its vaguely salacious name, I would bet that unless you live in the North West of England you might not know what it is or why it is so controversial. To kick off the new ‘Tales from The Dark Side’ series we thought we would give you the low down on what fracking actually is.
Fracking is a short hand term for hydraulic fracturing which is a process to release gas from rock for use as energy.
Essentially hard shale rocks are drilled to break them up and then a mixture of water, chemicals and sand is injected into the rock at high pressure. This forces gas that was trapped in the rocks out and it can then be extracted via a well head. The gas that is extracted is called shale gas. The water injected into the rock is also collected and processed to clean it. However, some environmentalists are concerned that some of the water may escape and potentially pollute the environment or drinking water supplies.
In the US, where fracking is more common, some householders claim that shale gas has been forced into their water supplies causing their tap water to ignite. Industry representatives in the UK insist that this would not be a problem here because the industry would be tightly regulated.
So why has fracking been in the news in the UK? Well, fracking test operations have been carried out in Lancashire and whilst these operations were underway two small earthquakes occurred in the Blackpool area in May last year. The test operations were stopped and an independent study was undertaken to see if the fracking could have caused the earthquakes. The results of this report were released in October 2011 and showed that the fracking was probably the cause.
Understandably locals are not keen for fracking to be restarted. Furthermore The Green Party wants the government to ban the process of fracking completely in the UK, like it is in France and some states in the United States of America.
As fossil fuels are depleted shale gas extracted from fracking is becoming increasingly important to the worldwide energy market. In the UK it is unlikely that shale gas will be used to meet much of our energy needs, but it is already widely used in the USA. At the time of writing the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) was still reviewing the report into the Blackpool earthquakes before deciding if test operations in Lancashire can restart. Caudrilla the company behind the drilling in Lancashire has recently attended public meetings in Sussex as they start to look at other areas in the UK that may contain areas of shale gas. This is obviously not an issue that is going to go away in a hurry.
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