When I was growing up in the UK in the 50's and 60's there was a great
environmental awareness. The early years of the industrial revolution
had taken a heavy toll on our health and our surroundings - polluted
rivers flowing into the sea, thick smog enveloping cities causing respiratory illnesses and often making
driving perilous, buildings
coated with a black layer of
soot concealing the colour of the brick and stonework. The response, a very sensible one, was
for our government to implement strict environmental controls on
industry, to instigate massive clean up operations and to designate
protected areas by way of National Trust lands, parks and green belt.
The general public enthusiastically got behind these initiatives. Soon
fish began returning to rivers that had been for many years devoid of
life and we
grew up learning to have a healthy respect for our natural
Over the past 3 to 4 decades, however, things have gradually
Democracy has largely given way to plutocracy, where important decision
making is done
by the rich and powerful. Britain, more than any other European
country, has been quick to emulate the mistakes of that great super
power across the Atlantic - the U. S. A. where corporate interests
override politics, where corporate profit rules supreme and where there
is a revolving door between positions in government and those on Wall
Environmental standards have been whittled away as big business lobbies
the politicians through a process of legalized bribery. No more
so than in the fossil fuel industry, where large oil and gas companies
are given license to exploit fragile eco systems and when accidents
happen, which is not uncommon, causing environmental catastrophe and contamination of human
habitats, they are barely, if at all, held accountable. Notable
examples are: (1) the oil contamination by Chevron/ Texaco of large tracts
rain forest in Ecuador, home to native Indian populations as well as the richest diversity of life on the planet, and (2) the
deep water horizon oil spill by BP in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Chevron
been found guilty by the courts yet refuses to pay the $19Bn
awarded to Ecuador, necessary for an attempted clean-up to take place.
From a well drilled at a depth of 1.5km in the Gulf of Mexico, approx
(2.5m gallons) of oil escaped into the ocean. Instead of cleaning up
the floating oil, BP
then exacerbated the
disaster many fold by spraying it with a toxic detergent - Correxit,
caused the oil to both spread out and to sink, suffocating life on the
ocean bed not only now but for decades
to come. This disaster was apparently avoidable according to Ian R
Crane, an ex oil industry engineer who has conducted exhaustive
research. In a presentation available online, he argues that the circumstances were
deliberately engineered as the U.S. fossil fuel industry sought to tame
British competitor, BP - . Operations such as
these should simply not be allowed, certainly not without first conducting a thorough EIA
(environmental impact assessment) and permission declined if it is even remotely likely to put the environment at risk. Yet
in August 2015 Shell was granted license by the USA to
drill in the perilous Arctic Ocean north of Alaska. Thankfully,
however, in October 2015 it was announced that in the two prime Arctic
sectors no new licenses will be issued and existing licenses will not
latest chapter in this era of fossil fuel extraction is the "dash for gas" which
gained momentum around the turn of the century when licenses to frack
were granted willy nilly all over the USA by the George W Bush Administration. The
environmental impact was
largely an unknown quantity - due to geological variation, an EIA would be
necessary for each individual well drilled - this was deemed by the
regulatory authorities as unnecessary. To make matters worse the
then Vice President Dick Cheney in 2005 exempted the industry from
with the Clean Water Act, the Drinking Water Act and the Clean Air Act
in a new Energy Bill signed into law by George W Bush. This is known as the 'Haliburton Loophole'. On the 10th
anniversary of this bill many sought to reverse these exemptions but
Conventional (vertical) drilling for gas has
been carried out for several decades. Around 2006 unconventional
drilling became the norm. From each vertical well shaft drilled, several
horizontal shafts then radiate out for distances of up to 3 km.
Residents of areas opened up to fracking have
no say about what happens below ground - i.e. below their homes and
farms. Governments assured the electorate that the industry would be
subject to the strictest safety and environmental regulation, but in
retrospect we can see that this has not been the case.
Heavily in debt following the 2008 financial crisis brought about by deregulation and the home grown sub-prime mortgage lending scandal (exported to the EU and other western nations via the derivatives market), the USA saw
this as (a) a way to become energy independent, (b) a way to improve the balance of payments deficit by
becoming a net exporter of natural gas and (c) a way of keeping the
fiat currency debt bubble afloat by pumping money created by QE (Quantitative Easing - i.e. legitimized counterfitting on a national scale) into an
industry primed and ready to soak it up.
drilled and fractured, each well requires the injection under pressure
of more than two million gallons of fresh water laced with a cocktail of
aggressive chemicals to fracture and penetrate the gas bearing shale,
along with either sand or ceramic beads to wedge the fissures open,
allowing the gas an escape route back to the well shaft. In
successfully drilled wells approximately 3% of the gas extracted
escapes and just half of the toxic water (often referred to as frack
fluid) is recovered and then has to be disposed of. The rest remains in
the ground and no one can accurately predict what further effects it
will have. Due to the aggressive nature of the mix, it is fair to
expect that it just keeps on going, contaminating anything in its
path - underground water in the vicinity, soil and underground life
forms, eventually reaching the ground surface, where the gasses escape
into the air. This might take weeks, years or even decades, and this is
in the best case scenario. The past decade of drilling
in the U.S. and Australia has revealed that approx. 40% of wells
drilled actually fail in some way or another, most commonly related to
the integrity of the concrete casing. Where this passes through an
aquifer it often leads to contamination of drinking water sources. In
the U.S. alone more than a thousand actions have been brought for
drinking water contamination by this industry.
In addition to the methane gas collected in the fracking process,
more methane is unlocked that is not harvested and this then finds its way
through the fractured geology, is absorbed by any water it encounters on the way, ultimately reaching the surface to be released into the
atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas approx. 25 times more potent
than carbon dioxide. We should not therefore be surprised by the
acceleration in global warming that we are now experiencing, exceeding the worst forecasts of the
scientific community. The methane released into the atmosphere since
the fracking process began must surely dwarf that released by melting permafrost
and the world's population of flatulent cattle. Each month of 2015 has
so far been the hottest on record.
An area of between 1 & 2 hectares (3 to 5 acres) is required
to be cleared and prepared for each well pad. Then much specialized
drilling equipment is required, brought to site along with the well
tower, water, chemicals, sand, compressors, explosives and
ready mix concrete in monster sized road vehicles, which have to
navigate their way not just along motorways, but narrow country
lanes and through picturesque villages. It doesn't just leave a blot on the
landscape, but an entire landscape of blots. Gas storage vessels are
required along with vehicles or pipelines to transport it from the
site. Extracting gas in this way is in itself very energy intensive.
With the oil price at anything less than US$75 per barrel this process
is not even financially viable.
Both Americans and Australians were caught napping by the speed
and stealth with which this industry invaded their countries, aided and
abetted by the politicians in the pockets of the large energy corporations. Those affected have met a
lack of transparency when seeking to know how their local communities will be impacted and what chemicals are being
deployed in their areas. Often the fracking companies refuse to
disclose any information at all, claiming that the frack fluid mix they use is a trade secret.
Landowners have been made cash offers to allow fracking on or close to
their properties, but as a condition are required to sign a non
disclosure agreement, basically gagging them from taking any legal
action or speaking to the press.
As the dangers have become apparent, grass roots residents
groups have sprung up all over, demanding a halt to this industry. By the time they are able to instigate effective
change, however, in many cases the damage has already been done.
The public of Britain and Europe are, it seems, better informed
about the dangers of fracking. Their populations have been extremely
active in pressurizing their governments and local authorities to
resist the invadsion of the countryside and their rural
communities by this industry, with some measure of success. In Europe France, Germany
and Bulgaria have banned fracking and many other EU countries have
introduced bans in selected areas or provinces and are under pressure
from the public to further restrict this industry. In the UK Wales has
banned fracking and Scotland has issued a flawed moratorium that
somehow excludes mining!?. In 2011 two exploratory wells were drilled
in the Fylde area of Lancashire. Both triggered earthquakes that rocked
the seaside town of Blackpool, causing property prices there to plummet.
Despite the flawed economics of this industry, the rising objections of
the general public and, of course, the potential damage it will cause,
the Cameron government seems determined to forge ahead with the
fracking agenda in the UK. Everywhere, that is, except in his own back yard, i.e. the small
constituency of Witney, Oxfordshire, where he has imposed a fracking
ban. As in America, the
corporate owned mass media constantly paints a rosy picture of this
industry and gives minimal coverage to the rapidly growing number of
anti-fracking protests and demonstrations taking place throughout the
country, or of the contamination and negative health consequences. To get a realistic insight into this battle between the
general public and the government backed fracking industry, one has to
seek out the alternative media to be found on the web, conduct research
from among the many websites devoted to fracking and also watch
some of the excellent documentaries on the subject available
on YouTube. Ian R Crane, a former engineer with one of the largest
fossil fuel industry corporations, on recognizing the insidious nature
of this industry, has been instrumental in educating local
communities up and down the country about the dangers associated with
fracking and has a website devoted to this work called "Fracking
The reason, we are told, that we should embrace this industry is
that it is cleaner - that the burning of natural gas produces less CO2
than the burning of other fossil fuels such as coal and oil. What they
don't tell us, however, is how energy intensive the fracking process
is, how much infrastructure is required, how much wastage occurs and how much contamination it leaves
behind. It endangers our health, flora and fauna, scars our countryside
and is, in fact, having an accelerating effect on global warming.
Ian also warns us to beware of a possible hidden agenda as he
explains to us the ways in which the UK's nuclear industry has been
attempting to dispose of its radioactive waste products over the years.
Could disused frack wells be sold in the future to international energy corporations
for nuclear waste disposal?
REASONS WHY FRACKING SHOULD BE OUTLAWED EVERYWHERE1. Earthquakes. Fracking is known to have triggered a great many seismic events
Contamination of drinking water.
Fresh water for drinking and agriculture is often in short supply. Despite assurances from the industry,
frack fluid has found its way into many sources of fresh water, both
above and below ground, poisoning wildlife and contaminating our
valuable supplies of potable water. Our knowledge of the geology that
lies below the earth's surface is far from comprehensive. What we do
know, however, is that underground water sources can often be
interlinked over vast areas. Contaminate it in one location and there
is a high probability of contamination in others. Of all the water on the
3% is fresh and 2% of that is frozen. We must treasure and
protect the remaining 1%.
3. Air quality degradation.
Wherever fracking has occurred in close proximity to human habitation,
residents have complained about the toxic air making them sick,
especially when there is flaring at the well head. In wet weather these
toxins fall as acid rain, killing garden plants, pets, wildlife and degrading
such things as automobile paint and bodywork
4. Contribution to global warming.
Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas. Since the turn of this
century the fracking industry has contributed significantly to this
phenomenon as large quantities of methane trapped below the
earth's surface are unlocked but not harvested, ultimately surfacing to escape
into the atmosphere. This process will continue around frack sites long
after the industry has departed.
5. Frack fluid disposal and mis-use.
Each frack well requires in excess of 2 million gallons of frack fluid
- i.e. fresh water laced with a lethal cocktail of highly poisonous chemicals. What is
recovered then has to be disposed of and cannot be effectively treated.
In drought stricken California we read stories of it being sold to
farmers for the purpose of crop irrigation!
The environmental degradation and ill health effects will continue to
plague fracked localities long after the wells have become redundant.
It is unlikely that the drilling companies will still be around to sue
for compensation when the claims start mounting. Will our governments,
who misled us into believing this industry posed no threat to our health, be willing to pick up the tab?
7. Negative effect on property prices.
In the areas of the USA and Australia contaminated by fracking, not
only have property prices plummeted, many simply cannot be sold at any
price as residents evacuate for the sake of their health.
8. Not required or economically viable.
At a time when the entire world should be transitioning to eco friendly
energy sources, what we see instead is an oversupply of fossil fuel,
depressed oil price in the $40 to $50 per barrel range since late 2014.
Only with the oil price above $75
per barrel can fracking be financially feasible.
9. Disfiguring the landscape.
Each well pad requires 3 to 5 acres of land to be cleared of vegetation
and leveled, along with access roads and pipeline routes.
10. Disruption to local communities.
Each well site is serviced by a fleet of super sized tanker lorries to
bring in the drilling equipment, sand, frack fluid storage vessels and pipeline. These have to
negotiate narrow winding country lanes and pass through small, quiet,
often historic villages, destroying the ambiance and degrading our
11. Lack of transparency.
Large corporations have corrupted and now seem to dominate the
political landscape. Consequently the public are
presented with a biased perspective of this industry and attempts by the public to
voice objection or obtain hard facts are often met with obstruction.
12. Intolerance of protest groups.
Laws have been introduced in recent years to restrict and punish those
who exercise their democratic right to speak out and demonstrate publicly against this
industry, by re branding protesters as eco "terrorists"!
13. Noise pollution.
First the graders, then the drilling process generates a lot of noise,
as do the heavy duty compressors and monster size vehicles servicing
the well sites.
Referendums and polls conducted in areas allocated for fracking
demonstrate an overwhelming public opposition to the practice. No one
wants it in their back yard. But hey, who's listening to them?
Over a relatively sort space of time - a little over a hundred
years - we have selfishly exploited most of the accessible fossil fuel
reserves that took hundreds of millions of years for the earth to
manufacture, leaving precious little for the benefit of future generations. We are burning it
at such a furious rate that the consequence is a severe negative impact
upon the very planet that sustains us. We now have the technology to
satisfy almost all our energy needs from renewable and environmentally
friendly sources, yet we still allow the giant multinational energy
corporations to dictate how we live our lives. In Brazil
122,000 sq km of Amazonian rainforest is up for grabs - being auctioned off
to oil and gas
companies to frack, thus inviting the same kind of environmental
as occurred in Ecuador. Even Ecuador, despite not having received a
penny from Exxon/ Texaco for the contamination it left behind,
continues to open up new areas of rainforest for further fossil fuel
As the most populous and highly developed species to have evolved
on this planet, we must take responsibility for its continued
well-being, for to neglect our roll as custodians of the earth is
to condemn the human race to eventual extinction. It took around 4
billion years for the earth to reach the level of diversity that has
made our existence possible and our lives so comfortable today, but all we have done in return is
to plunder its resources, destroy unique habitats and eco systems, replace diversity with mono crops, wipe
out countless life forms and pollute the land, rivers, sea and air, all in
the name of development. We enhance our own existence at the expense of all
We have destroyed vast tracts of oxygen
producing and life sustaining primordial rain forest and continue to do
so, oblivious to the damage we inflict. We contaminate the oceans with
industrial pollution and nuclear waste. We are causing our climate to
change through the excessive burning of fossil fuel, resulting in more
frequent extreme weather conditions that are often catastrophic in
magnitude. And now, just since the turn of the century, we have
embarked on the worst felony of all - the CRIME of FRACKING! Yes, I do
consider fracking to be a crime. It is an assault on the crust of our one and
only beloved planet, a crime against nature and against humanity. This
unfortunate trend is motivated only by the excessive greed of giant
corporations, whose owners have amassed such power and wealth that
they are able to corrupt the political process, override democracy and
dictate our future. They have to be tamed and this industry has to be
stopped, before the level of destruction reaches the point of no
Our very survival as a species depends upon it!
What is FRACKING?
is a term used for hydraulic fracturing, a process which requires
drilling into the ground, encasing the well shaft with concrete, then
using explosives to fracture the concrete at convenient places before
injecting under pressure a mixture of sand and water laced with a cocktail
of chemicals designed to penetrate the surrounding shale rock,
methane (natural gas) which then flows back up the well shaft for
collection at the surface. Conventional drilling (vertical) gave way
around 2006 to unconventional drilling (first vertical, then horizontal
in several directions from a single shaft).
well shaft requires above 2 million gallons of water mixed with a
cocktail of aggressive chemicals pumped in at high pressure to
penetrate the rock. This water also contains either sand or ceramic
beads which then keep the fissures wedged open, allowing the gas
passage back to the shaft. There are over 700 different chemicals which
are used in the fracking process. Below is a short list of some of the
most lethal and commonly used.
|calcium chloride||carbon dioxide|
|chlorine dioxide||copper sulphate|
|erythorbic acid||ethoxylated alcohols|
|ferric chloride||ferrous sulphate|
|liquid nitrogen||polyethlene glycol|
|potassium chloride||propylene glycol|
|sodium benzoate||sodium bromide|
|terpene + terpenoids||toluene|
What could possibly go wrong?
substances naturally occur at low levels in the geology. The fracking
process often unlocks these, enabling them to rise rapidly to the
surface in dangerous quantities, along with a great deal of methane.
Among these are arsenic, radio active radon gas and radium 226. These
have caused serious illness to the populations resident in areas
already fracked and will continue to afflict them long after the
frackers have departed.
Where has FRACKING been STOPPED?
As the general public become informed about the destructive
nature of the fracking industry, pressure on their governments has led
to some significant restrictions. By 2012 over 18 million frack wells had been drilled in the USA alone. The states of New York and Vermont have now banned fracking and many other
states have banned it in some counties or sensitive areas. When a Texas
municipality introduced a fracking ban it was canceled out by a ban on
Recognizing the environmental damage
and widespread ill health caused by 4 years of fracking in Queensland Australia, the state of
New South Wales has taken the decision to ban fracking.
France, Germany and Bulgaria have outlawed fracking and many
other European Nations have imposed restrictions on where it may be
In the UK so far, only Wales and Prime
Minister David Cameron's tiny constituency of Witney in Oxfordshire
have banned fracking. Scotland has issued a flawed moratorium which strangely excludes "mining".
The UK has considerable areas of underground shale from which gas could be extracted.
New licenses for fracking exploration in the UK were announced in August 2015
map below, shown to us in an episode of Fracking Nightmare in October 2015,
shows how the north of England has been carved up for the purpose of
fracking. Different colours represent different contractors granted
license to frack.
Tina Louise Rothery, one of the swelling number of anti-fracking activists in the UK, is interviewed here by Max Keiser on RT's Keiser Report.
is a relatively young volcanic island, pushed upward from the sea bed
as the edge of the eastward drifting Caribbean tectonic plate meets the
expanding Atlantic plate. We therefore have no ancient underground
deposits of coal and shale, so have consequently been spared interest
from the large international energy corporations.
Electricity in Dominica is derived from a combination of costly and
carbon dioxide producing diesel generation and environmentally
friendly hydro power, which accounts for almost half of our electricity
consumption. We would like to produce all of our energy needs by way of
eco friendly renewable sources.
When, a few years ago, the idea
of harnessing geothermal energy emerged, it seemed at first like a
feasible proposition for Dominica. Why not make use of buried heat
and the earth's
natural steam engine effect to generate power, as has been achieved in
Iceland and Kenya's Rift Valley?
Closer examination, however, reveals a number of risks plus the area designated for it conflicts with our blossoming eco tourism industry..
first exploratory well, kicked off in late 2011, parked right on the
doorstep of the popular Titou Gorge and the Rainforest Aerial Tram, a prime area of natural beauty where the hiking trail to our world renowned Boiling Lake begins. The Aerial Tram ceased activity just a few months later.
What are the Dangers?Firstly
we must consider that Dominica lies in a hurricane belt and is
also susceptible to earth tremors, not to mention the possibility of a
area designated for this activity lies directly east of the island's
most populated area - the Roseau Valley and the capital itself, Roseau.
As with fracking, trial drilling has revealed some very nasty substances down below.
These include carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, arsenic and
mercury. Should large concentrations of any of these toxins escape,
the prevailing easterly winds would carry them in the direction of the
capital. They could also contaminate our drinking water, which is collected in and piped from this locality to the capital.
There is only one single road making this area
accessible. It is a steep, narrow and winding road that climbs from the
Roseau River valley floor to the village of Laudat
at an altitude of about 2,000 ft. Should a tropical storm or earth
tremor damage the operation, it may also trigger a landslide that could
money already committed to this project could have gone a long way
towards making Dominica energy independent using already tried and
tested SAFE technology - a few wind turbines in the mountain passes
plus a few acres of solar panels located in the west coast rain shadow
area of Salisbury's Grand Savanne would do the trick.