The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Church of England Defends Fracking

ChurchofEngland_fracking

There’s a fight going on in the tiny village of Balcombe that could have large implications for Britain’s energy security. The village has just a couple thousand residents, but it’s what lies underground that is causing the controversy. Cuadrilla, an oil and gas exploration firm, is drilling a well there to determine if the region’s Weald Basin has recoverable oil and gas. Over the weekend, hundreds marched on the drilling site to protest the imminent arrival of fracking in the UK.

One of the voices pitching into the argument over Britain’s shale prospects was a representative for the Church of England, who condemned the knee-jerk rejection of fracking. The FT reports:

Philip Fletcher, who chairs the Church’s group on mission and public affairs, compared condemnation of fracking to the mistaken belief that the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine was not safe.

“The evidence for that was totally unsound, yet the damage caused by denying children the benefits of immunisation was huge,” he told the Financial Times.

“Similarly, to deny ourselves proper testing and piloting [of shale reserves] is to shut off an option without considering it ­properly.”

Fletcher was careful to note that the Church holds no official position on the matter, but his plea for cooler heads echoes our own in the American context. The loudest voices in this discussion are often the ones least grounded in fact.

Britain has plenty of shale gas, an estimated 1,300 trillion cubic feet, but Cameron’s administration will have to mount a smart public relations campaign to convince the British that it’s worth the risks that come with drilling. Greens have found a rallying point in Balcombe; thus it might be a good idea for No. 10 to back down from this challenge and relocate exploratory well drilling to a more remote location. A strategic retreat could help center the debate on the merits of shale gas. Such a debate favors fracking.

[Oil well image and St. Paul image courtesy of Shutterstock]

Published on August 20, 2013 8:35 am
  • Pete

    Saints be praised!

  • juliusstahl

    I am shocked at the stance of the Church of England on fracking – usually they and the Episcopal Church in the USA parrot the current liberal progressive politically correct line on all such energy issues.

    • ljgude

      I belong to an Anglican church in Western Australia and it is more mixed. Conservatives are actually tolerated. We also have some people actually, how shall I say this? Well, who PRACTICE their religion.

  • ljgude

    I often complain about the frequency with which Via Media reuses stock images, but as far as I am concerned you can use this one as much as you like. It looks to me that one of the interns has been watching too many Monty Python flicks and knows how to use Photoshop. Bless ‘sm and pass the fracking torpedos.

    • http://www.the-american-interest.com/ Damir Marusic

      Heh, we’ll try our best to be more creative with the stock stuff.

      • rheddles

        Don’t spend so much time being creative that you don’t get any postings done. We’re expecting Vietnamese levels of productivity, not American. And remember, the lashings will resume upon the Professors return.

  • David from Boston

    I know this has nothing to do with the article, but the picture is great. Reminds me of the final scene of Planet of the Apes.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    I think giving in to the environmentalists will just encourage them, and the time to fight this battle is now.