*UPDATE* European Union Ready for Shale

UPDATE (12/11/2013; 5:08pm ET): This week, Lord Deben, chairman of United Kingdom’s government’s advisory body on climate change, put to rest some of the extreme claims of anti-hydraulic fracturing activists in the region. As BBC News reports:

“It just isn’t true that fracking is going to destroy the environment and the world is going to come to an end if you frack,” he said.

“And yet to listen to some people on the green end, that’s what they say.”

These comments were made on the heels of a recent report released by Public Health England (PHE), an executive agency of the UK’s Department of Health, which found the public health risks from shale development are low. The UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron has also voiced his support for hydraulic fracturing in the region, stating  “if we don’t back this technology, we will miss a massive opportunity to help families with their bills and make our country more competitive.”

Original post, April 14, 2013

This past week was not an enjoyable one for opponents of responsible shale development who, contrary to available evidence, have hoped that countries would ban hydraulic fracturing based on alleged environmental impacts. Most notably, the European Union’s (EU) chief scientific adviser is now expressing support for shale gas development, highlighting the proven safety record of production and the benefits it could deliver. This is in addition to countries across Europe waking up to the reality that the claims made in films like Gasland were intended to scare, not accurately inform.

Anne Glover, the chief scientific adviser to European Commission President Manuel Barroso, based her support on the hard, scientific facts:

“We should not go into a denial phase. From my point of view the evidence will allow us to go ahead [with shale production].” (April 11, 2013)

The EU’s Energy Commissioner, Günther Oettinger ,also expressed his support for development, noting the many benefits we are already experiencing here in the United States:

“’I am in favour of producing shale gas, particularly for safety reasons, and to reduce gas prices,’ he said. ‘In the United States, which is a big producer of shale gas, the price of gas is four times less than in Europe.’” (April 11, 2013)

Despite varying opinions amongst the EU’s member states, sentiments are beginning to align with the facts that shale development is both environmentally and economically beneficial.

Just look at United Kingdom. Last week, a report put to bed the accusations that hydraulic fracturing poses a serious risk of earthquakes in the UK (that aligns with what experts here in the United States have been saying for years). In addition, a British Geological Survey found the nation could be sitting atop a natural gas supply large enough to heat every home in Britain for 100 years. British Chancellor George Osborne is now looking to boost investment in responsible shale gas development, looking at possible tax provisions that would enable increased production, which in turn would certainly help UK consumers.

Support is also growing across the EU. António Fernando Correia de Campos, a member of the European Parliament from Portugal, has endorsed increased shale development. Poland has committed to invest €12.5 million to develop its shale reserves by 2020. Romania has recently lifted a ban it had in place on hydraulic fracturing.

Even France, a country that has been largely opposed to shale development and had even banned hydraulic fracturing last year, is now being forced to revaluate its position. As it turns out, hydraulic fracturing is also required for accessing geothermal energy, a renewable energy source that France has no plans to ban any time soon.

The shale revolution occurring in the United States is redefining the global energy mix, propelling North America into a leadership role and leaving once energy-dominant nations unsure of their futures. Against that backdrop – and the fact that U.S. natural gas produced from shale will likely be entering European markets soon as imports – it’s little wonder that Europe is abandoning the hysteria regarding hydraulic fracturing and embracing the economic and environmental opportunities that responsible shale development can bring.

And did we mention that shale development within the EU would reduce reliance on Russian energy? That fact certainly hasn’t escaped decision makers in Europe, many of whom have been dependent on The Bear for their natural gas supplies for decades.


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