The Dutch government just released a report finding that the environmental risks of fracking shale can be managed. It’s a small but important step for the country, but also for the future of shale energy in Europe. American companies are already balancing the risks of drilling—including the fines, loss of resources, and bad press that accidents bring—against the benefits of the new energy source, and the industry appears to be getting safer. The report found that Dutch shale could entail even less environmental risk, thanks to the country’s geology. The FT reports:
The report by the consultancies Witteveen and Bos, Arcadis, and Fugro acknowledges the risks but says the possibility of groundwater pollution is “very small”, partly because Dutch shale gas reserves lie much deeper than those in the US, at three to four kilometres rather than 1.5.
Local government will still have a say in whether or not exploratory wells will be drilled in the Netherlands, and the permits—if they come—likely won’t be issued until next year. Regardless, this is a positive sign for a continent that to this point has remained firm in its rejection of the new source of oil and gas:
France and Bulgaria have banned fracking altogether, and there has also been strong resistance in some German states. Yet America’s Energy Information Administration puts Europe’s recoverable reserves on a par with America’s.
Governments should be basing their decision on whether or not to frack on reports like this one, not the knee-jerk reaction and emotional appeals of greens ideologically opposed to the process.[Oil rig image courtesy of Shutterstock]