fracking in ireland

As a rule we like to keep things at least some way upbeat and positive. That said, there are often things in the world that need a hard look at and even though there huge movements and a lot of research going into healing and helping our environment, there are growing pressures on it too. The recession hasn’t helped; business and governement leaders often use it as an excuse to ditch initiatives that are maybe a little more costly in the medium term or do not exploit resources that might be better left alone. Fishing would be a good example as would the way GMO crops are being not just rolled out but are licenced to take control of farming from farmers and give it to huge multinationals. Energy is leaning back on fossil fuels and less development is going into real renewable sources.

And then there’s fracking. If you haven’t heard the term, it means hydraulic fracturing, a way of drilling small holes into shale or other softer bedrock, pumping in vast amounts of chemicals, sand and water to split the rock and collect much of the natural gas that’s released. What comes back up is highly toxic water, with underground chemicals such as arsenic and benzine, that is stored in open air pools rather than cleaned; in areas of bog, high rainfall and flooding this seems like hubris. Much of this toxic water stays down there at various levels, where it may enter the water table and aquifers if the drilling is not deep enough.

The problem we have is as ever, conflicting stories and conflicting interpretation of the science. This a one shot deal: if we get it wrong the entire Shannon basin and system from source to sea could be ruined. So I’m providing a few links for you to look at because to go into the entire debate would take pages and pages. There are two side to the debate and as a society we have to decide whether the benefits outweigh the risks.

So there are links above about the water table and contamination risks. There are increasing amounts of evidence that earthquakes in Britain and Texas (thirteen this month) have been caused by hydraulic fracturing of rock. And just for fun, have a look at this video of kitchen taps spewing fire…

In Ireland the government is pushing ahead with licencing that will allow testing (for gas, not safety) and the EPA is being fairly secretive about their study process. They are studying a narrow range of issues and won’t say how seriously they are taking the finding from abroad. Many countries have banned fracking already but there are plans to frack Clare, Leitrim, Fermanagh and other counties. Proponents point to studies and statements by other proponents but then, opponents do the same. Funnily enough there is disparity between gas and oil industry fuded studies and independent studies; make of that what you will…

There is time to see that this is dealt with properly: a true moratorium on drilling, time to independantly study in Ireland and time to allow international studies to report. Where do you stand?

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