The British government’s health agency is the latest body to give fracking a clean bill of health, in a move that should galvanize the country to act on its considerable reserves of shale gas. Reuters reports:
Public Health England (PHE) said in a review that any health impacts were likely to be minimal from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which involves the pumping of water and chemicals into dense shale formations deep underground….
“The currently available evidence indicates that the potential risks to public health from exposure to emissions associated with the shale gas extraction process are low if operations are properly run and regulated,” said John Harrison, director of PHE’s center for radiation, chemical and environmental hazards.
Don’t expect this to sway recalcitrant greens; one activist pointed out that “low risk is not the same as no risk,” which while semantically true, doesn’t belong in an energy policy discussion. Every energy source entails risks, from wind (bird deaths, anyone?) to coal, from solar (bird blindness) to, yes, shale gas. The goal, then, shouldn’t be to eliminate risk, but rather to minimize it. This new review suggests that that’s possible with shale gas.
Energy prices are the topic du jour for British politicians right now, as parties compete over who can further distance themselves from the green policies that have been pushing electricity prices higher and higher. The UK is sitting on an estimated 1.3 quadrillion cubic feet of shale gas. Drilling can be done safely, and can boost the country’s energy security.
[Oil rig image and plant image courtesy of Shutterstock]