No end in sight for the Fracking war

As the Great Fracking Controversy rages, both sides are putting forth every argument they can lay hands on. Some of them make more sense than others, but both the pros and the cons have a considerable arsenal to throw out there for public consumption. One voice in particular rings more clearly than all the others, and that’s the argument for emphasis on research and development of alternate, sustainable energy sources.

In the UK, Sussex currently seems to be at the heart of the storm. A virtual whirlwind of protest is coming from residents of the area; individual bloggers and groups have been expressing their fears about everything from a potential limit on lawn-watering to drought and earthquakes and devastated eco-systems and flaming tap water.

Another point that makes good sense is the call for accurate and balanced information about the process of fracking and its observed consequences. Unfortunately there’s a tendency on both sides of the issue to ignore or downplay any valid argument if it doesn’t further the cause, be it for or against.

Take for example the report from an independent study commissioned by the government that confirmed earth tremors around Blackpool were caused by fracking. Proponents say they’re no worse than those caused by coal mining and the odds of a major earthquake due to fracking are infinitesimal.

The opposition says, with some reason, that not enough information is available yet and the extent of possible damage is unknown.

The lines are apparently drawn by ‘greenies’ on the one side and ‘progressives’ on the other. Most environmentalist groups will argue that the bottom line is money; power companies like Cuadrilla pay large sums for drilling/fracking rights, and their profits are in direct proportion to how much shale gas they can process and sell. The pro-fracking side says shale gas is cleaner than coal and abundant enough to supply the UK’s energy needs with much less dependence on foreign oil.