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Fracking dilemma: Fresh water or cheap gas? The latter 'is not likely to happen'

Published time: November 25, 2013 16:04
A general view shows the Cuadrilla exploration drilling site in Balcombe in Balcombe in southern England, on August 15, 2013.  (AFP Photo)

Energy companies are giving people a very unhealthy choice: Whether to have cheap gas, which is unlikely to happen, or fresh water, former oil executive Ian Crane, now a campaigner against fracking, tells RT.

RT:  You gave up a lucrative career over fracking... why are you against it so much?

Ian Crane: Well, if we were looking at conventional oil and gas exploration I wouldn’t be sitting here talking with you. But this is the first attempt in the UK to exploit unconventional gas resources from shale. The track record in the UK is pretty dire. Out of the four wells drilled and fracked two of them resulted in seismic events in the peninsula. And a law moratorium was put on 2 1/2 years ago, that moratorium was lifted one year ago by Lord Browne, who advises David Cameron. But Lord Browne is also chairman of Cuadrilla, one of the companies that has very heavy interests in this operation. The real concern is that this is a technology that basically has been proven not to work as the oil industry claims, and it has resulted in an irrefutable evidence of contamination of water, soil and the air, and also significant negative health impacts on the population that live above the gas fields.

RT:  Pope Francis has reportedly said that he believes that fracking exploits the poor and their land. But there is a very strong economic argument, isn’t it? I mean all these people will be compensated after, won’t they?

IC: I don’t think it really matters what the economic argument is if the water supply is put at risk. I mean, what do people prefer to have: cheap gas, which I don’t think is going to happen anyway, or fresh water? Because the reality is if people do not have access to fresh water, then effectively the life as we know it is over. This, unfortunately, goes right along with the philosophy of Pete Brabeck, the CEO of Nestle, who eight years ago recorded an interview in which he stated that in his opinion, it should not be regarded as a human right for people to have access to fresh water. And this is potentially creating a situation where basically people would have to effectively buy their fresh water from the corporations. This industry has never before been unleashed beneath the densely populated islands such as the UK. We’ve seen the effects in places like Colorado and Pennsylvania, and southern Queensland in Australia, when the population density of the UK is 20 times that of Colorado and 100 times that of southern Queensland. I would simply implore that people do a bit of research for themselves, and they look at the damage and the contamination that has been wreaked in these locations around the world. We are doing everything we possibly can to ensure that this doesn’t happen in the UK.

RT: Why can’t I expect government to do this research for me? Why won’t they protect my own health, what do you think?

IC: That’s a very good question and in fact, last Thursday evening I attended a public meeting with IGas Energy, which is the company that has a license to exploit the resources in Manchester. And their direct response to that question was that it is not their responsibility to investigate the environmental damage or the negative health impact that this industry has caused elsewhere. This is totally irresponsible, and tragically, what it reflects is the fact that we are dealing with the cowboy industry that is driven by greed and that in fact, that takes the mantra directly from Lord Browne, the former chairman and CEO of BP, who basically said “this is profit above all else,” and that he would do whatever it takes to get into the heart of the shale gas industry. Basically there are an increasing number of people around the UK to ensure that it doesn’t happen. The British government and the shale gas industry, the embryonic shale gas industry in the UK, does not have the social license to proceed with it.


The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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