Thursday, 31 October 2019

Where do the parties stand on fracking?



What is fracking?

Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) is an incredibly inefficient process for extracting natural gas, with an extremely low Energy Return on Energy Invested.

The process involves pumping vast quantities of pressurised water and chemicals into shale rock in order to force out natural gas.

The process has been linked with extraordinary levels of environmental destruction, pollution of the water table, and earthquakes.

Aside from the environmental concerns it's also barely viable from a purely economic perspective. The costs of extraction are so high that fracking is only economically viable at all when energy prices are high, and when governments hand fracking operations vast subsidies and tax cuts to give them an artificial advantage over traditional energy sources, and environmentally sound renewable sources too.



Tories

The Tories have an utterly disgraceful record on fracking.

In 2013 they introduced a new tax break for frackers, slashing their tax rate in half, to give them a massive artificial advantage over other energy sources like North Sea Oil drilling, offshore wind farms, biomass, and solar energy.

In their bid to encourage fracking in Britain the Tories also decided to eliminate the payment of insurance bonds on fracking rigs (which they even have in the United States) which are meant to cover the cost of any potential environmental damage, and dissuade frackers from taking undue environmental risks.

In 2016 they overruled massive local opposition and the local council to force fracking on Ryedale, which lies just on the edge of the stunning North York Moors national park, and then later that year they attempted to define anti-fracking activists as "extremists" and "terrorists".

And now Boris Johnson has actually hired a fracking lobbyist called Rachel Wolf to draw up the 2019 Tory election manifesto (no obvious conflicts of interest there then!).



Lib-Dems

During the Austerity coalition the Lib-Dems voted through all of the Tories' pro-fracking legislation, including the vast 2013 frackers tax cut designed to create fake financial viability for the industry.

In recent years they've realised how unpopular it is, and posture as if they oppose it, whilst staying tight-lipped about all the legislation they previously voted through to encourage it.

You'd have to be intensely gullible to trust the Lib-Dems after all of their U-turns and betrayals on issues like tuition fees, electoral reform, hiking VAT, nuclear subsidies, and imperialist warmongering in the Middle East, so it's always worth looking a little deeper ... and it turns out that the Lib-Dem leader Jo Swinson is personally bankrolled by a fracking company director!



Labour

Labour have an unequivocal stance on fracking. They will outright ban it.



Hang on, other parties exist too you know!

The Green Party have the most long-standing opposition to fracking, as you'd expect from an environmentalist party. Green Party politicians and activists have been at the heart of  anti-fracking protests up and down the country.

The SNP government in Scotland is refusing to allow fracking in Scotland by not allowing any fracking licences, but campaigners say they should go further and legislate a permanent ban on the practice.

Plaid Cymru have a moratorium policy on fracking in Wales, under which frackers would be banned from operating unless they can prove that the practice is environmentally safe (which is essentially an outright ban, because they can't).


CUK (or whatever they're calling themselves these days) are a laughing stock of a  party that are polling at 0%. They're a wasted vote. If they had even bothered to develop any kind of energy policy, this bunch of pro-privatisation, pro-austerity, orthodox neoliberal clowns would probably have come out in favour of it.

Brexit Party don't seem to have any actual policies other than continually pushing for the most damaging hard-right interpretation of Brexit imaginable, let alone detailed strategies on specific issues like fracking. They have welcomed fracking supporters into their party as candidates though, so on that basis it seems likely they'd be in favour of it, if they even bother developing an actual manifesto for the general election.


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George Carty said...

If you hate fracking then you can't reasonably also oppose nuclear power (unless you want us to be totally dependent on Russian gas). Wind and solar are so unreliable that they will only ever be supplements to fossil fuels, not substitutes.

Unknown said...

That's a false equivalence, fracking won't ever save our energy problems even within the frame of fossil fuel burning. Nuclear is a completely different argument with entirely separate issues surrounding its use.

Bob Marsden said...

The Neoliberal Democrats are frackists.

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