May 24, 2024

UK Announces ‘Energy Independence’ Measures But Still Refuses to Frack

In a bid to become more energy independent amid the war in Ukraine, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced on Monday hundreds of new oil and gas production licences in the North Sea, yet, the government appears to still be cowed by the environmental lobby on the issue of fracking.

With Russian gas and oil shipments drying up over the past year, many European states, including Britain, have had to come to grips with the reality that their prized green agendas will no longer be subsidised by cheap energy from Moscow and therefore will need to either turn to other despotic regimes or tap into domestic resources.

Acknowledging this, Downing Street announced on Monday that hundreds of new oil and gas drilling licences will be opened up in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland in order to “boost British energy independence” and “reduce reliance on hostile states”, Sky News reports.

Prime Minister Sunak said: “We have all witnessed how Putin has manipulated and weaponised energy – disrupting supply and stalling growth in countries around the world. Now more than ever, it’s vital that we bolster our energy security and capitalise on that independence to deliver more affordable, clean energy to British homes and businesses.

“Even when we’ve reached net zero in 2050, a quarter of our energy needs will come from oil and gas. But there are those who would rather that it come from hostile states than from the supplies we have here at home.

“We’re choosing to power up Britain from Britain and invest in crucial industries such as carbon capture and storage, rather than depend on more carbon-intensive gas imports from overseas – which will support thousands of skilled jobs, unlock further opportunities for green technologies and grow the economy,” Sunak added.

The announcement has led to widespread objections from climate change activists, which were highlighted prominently by outlets such as the BBC. Yet, it appears that the ‘Conservative’ government is still reticent to open up the potentially more impactful method of fracking for natural gas, a method that has been a chief component in the United States becoming energy independent under the Trump administration but also in reducing emissions to their lowest levels in over three decades.

The fracking ban instituted initially by former Prime Minister Theresa May over dubious concerns over earthquakes was briefly lifted by the short-lived Liz Truss government but was ultimately reinstated as one of the first acts by Rishi Sunak after he assumed power in Downing Street last autumn.

Curiously, the environmental damage caused by the production of wind turbines and solar panels is often overlooked compared to the fearmongering surrounding fracking.

The so-called green forms of energy are often reliant on the mining of rare-earth minerals and other metals, often extracted from the earth without concern for the environment in places such as China and Africa, leading to well-documented adverse health impacts on the local populations. On the other hand supporters of fracking say the claims about it are mere scaremongering, including claims that it causes tap water to become flammable, or the talk of earthquakes.

The UK is also home to large deposits of natural gas, with government estimates stating that the Bowland Shale, alone, could supply 50 years of energy at current usage. Fracking is far quicker to come online than traditional oil and gas extraction — like the projects in the North Sea, which take an average of 25 years to come online from the first discovery of deposits. Fracking wells, on the other hand, can be fully-operational in under two years, a timeframe that could actually prevent further impacts from the war in Ukraine.

Ironically, rather than pursuing actual energy independence and fully tapping into its resources at home, the UK is set to expand imports of natural gas fracked from America in order to prop up its fledgling energy market.

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