On June 2, Scotland’s parliament voted to impose a moratorium on fracking within the country. The vote was 32 – 29. The narrow margin of victory for the anti-fracking measure came as the result of a united effort by three of Scotland’s political parties — the Scottish Greens, the Liberal Democrats, and the Labour Party.
The Conservative Party was in favor of fracking. Legislators affiliated with the Scottish National Party chose to abstain from the vote, which prompted its fellow liberal parties to call on the group’s leaders to clarify its position on the procedure and its energy platform.
The Scottish National Party’s energy minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said he and his government remained “deeply skeptical” on the merits of fracking and confirmed that the practice would not be allowed in Scotland until there is clear evidence that it does not cause health-related or environmental harm.
Maurice Golden, a newly elected member of parliament for the Conservative party, argued in favor of the hydraulic fracturing process, saying the “left wing cabal” of the three united liberal parties had been “ignoring” scientific evidence regarding the practice, which, if allowed, would add jobs and boost the economy.
Also last week, two US government agencies jointly released a report claiming that fracking in the ocean presents no “significant” risk to the marine environment. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) based their findings on a study that looked at the impact of fracking on marine ecosystems. It analyzed 23 offshore fracking operations off the coast of California between 1982 and 2014. It found that fracking has a minimal impact on the quality of water and ocean health.
The report prompted protests from environmental groups. “I think it’s just absurd that the agency could look at the environmental of offshore fracking and make a finding that there is no significant environmental impact,” Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director for the Center for Biological Diversity, told ThinkProgress.
Sakashita said fracking companies are currently allowed to discharge 9 billion gallons of waste water into the ocean each year. That waste water may include toxic chemicals. There is no limit for the amount of chemicals that companies can discharge into the ocean, and companies are not required to disclose which chemicals they use in their operations.
Fracking is at the center of the debate over how and when the world should transition away from fossil fuels and adopt clean energy solutions like solar, wind, and hydroelectric power. There is a growing “leave it in the ground” movement that advocates against extracting every last molecule of carbon based fuel. The fossil fuel industry, however, has deep pockets and has been very successful at buying political influence so it can continue with its business as usual approach.
Many people, like Tesla CEO Elon Musk, believe the best way to balance the competing interests of industry and environmentalists is to adjust the price of carbon based fuels so they reflect their true cost to society. Causing permanent harm to the environment seems a poor excuse for allowing some to profit handsomely at the expense of many.
Source: Oil Price.com