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UK Shale Is Hale
Cameron to Brussels: Paws Off Our Fracking

British Prime Minister David Cameron is opening up the UK’s countryside to drilling—and, yes, that includes fracking—and he’s got a message for the EU: don’t rule out our shale gas.

100,000 is an important number for Britain’s shale aspirations. It’s the number of square kilometers being opened up for oil and gas exploration, and it’s also the number of pounds on offer to communities affected by fracking. The UK has sizable reserves of shale gas—roughly 1,3o0 trillion cubic feet—but has so far struggled to overcome strident local opposition to exploratory well drilling.

This new push to license drilling operations all across Britain, along with the sizable carrot on offer to communities willing to play host to fracking, signal Cameron’s strong desire to emulate the American shale boom. Given the country’s recent struggles with rising heating bills, a new source of domestic energy would be especially welcome.

But 10 Downing is wary of interference by Brussels. Europe has so far missed the shale bandwagon entirely, as (somewhat misguided) green concerns have managed to thwart any serious commercial production. As Reuters reports, Cameron wrote to the European Commission warning the body against making rules which might threaten his quest to frack:

“I am not in favour of new legislation where the lengthy timeframes and significant uncertainty involved are major causes for concern,” Cameron wrote in the letter dated Dec. 4. “The industry in the UK has told us that new EU legislation would immediately delay imminent investment.” […]

In January, the European Commission, the EU executive, is expected to publish a package of proposals related to its 2030 environment and energy strategy. These are expected to cover shale gas.

Shale gas could further strain the UK’s relationship with the EU, a relationship that despite squabbles over red tape and financial crises still benefits both parties. Ideally, Brussels would recognize shale gas’s worth as a viable and—gasp!—green energy source, but given its green policy track record, it looks like the UK-EU relationship, not Europe’s shale, is about to be fracked.

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