Editorial: Scotland bans fracking and the benefits of cleaner, inexpensive energy

Published on Tuesday, 3 October 2017 15:46 - Written by

Scotland is bravely rejecting cleaner air, more affordable energy and a reliable power grid. The Scottish government on Tuesday announced a ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

What does this mean for East Texas and the United States in general? We’ll simply keep building liquefied natural gas export facilities and preparing for more and bigger sales of our gas to the Europeans.

“The Scottish government has announced an effective ban on fracking,” the BBC reports. “Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse told MSPs that the practice ‘cannot and will not take place in Scotland.’ He said an existing moratorium on the technique, which has been in place since 2015, would continue indefinitely after a consultation showed overwhelming opposition.”

Environmental groups praised the move, which furthers that region’s war on fossil fuels.

“The Scottish government has previously imposed a similar block on underground coal gasification (UCG) - a separate technique used to extract gas from coal seams deep underground - on environmental grounds,” BBC explains. “The move comes almost exactly a year on from the UK government giving the go-ahead to horizontal fracking in Lancashire. Shale gas is currently processed in Scotland at a site in Grangemouth, having been shipped in from abroad, but cannot be extracted from beneath Scottish soil under the current moratorium, which is enforced through planning regulations.”

Scottish politicians framed it as a popular decision - based on public opinion. That deftly took science and evidence out of the equation.

That’s because science and evidence say fracking is safe.

“The benefits of fracking far outweigh its costs not only economically, but environmentally, a Stanford University geophysicist said Friday,” Forbes reported in June. “After teaching geophysics at Stanford for 30 years Mark Zoback took the helm of Stanford's new Natural Gas Initiative three years ago, he said, because of gas's environmental benefits.”

Natural gas, derived through fracking techniques, is both safe and cleaner than the only viable alternative - coal. Natural gas can power economic growth while at the same time lowering carbon emissions, he said.

“The global abundance of natural gas provided in part by horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing provides us with a critical option for addressing all of these critical issues,” Zoback said. “Natural gas is an ideal fuel to decarbonize and cause less pollution in the energy system in the future. It is not the end; it is a means to get to a decarbonized energy world.”

As for safety, Zoback points to the 250,000 fracked wells in the U.S.

“The assertion that this caused or will soon cause severe environmental damage is simply not true and needlessly alarmist,” he said. “Through emphasizing best practice, appropriate regulation, and enforcement of those regulations, I have every confidence that horizontal drilling and multi-stage fracturing can be done with minimal environmental impact.”

As one Scottish shale executive said, “It is a sad day for those of us who believe in evidence-led decision making. The Scottish Government has turned its back on a potential manufacturing and jobs renaissance.”

We’re currently enjoying just such a renaissance in the U.S., thanks to fracking.