More evidence for delaying shale gas drilling

The first of the Key Conclusions in the recent report by the Tyndall Centre, Sustainable Change Co-operative and Anthony Footit for The Co-operative was that “Evidence from the US suggests shale gas extraction brings a significant risk of ground and surface water contamination and until the evidence base is developed a precautionary approach to development in the UK and Europe is the only responsible action”.

In addition to the evidence covered in the report, new information seems to be emerging all the time. The New York Times reported this week how internal documents obtained from the US Environmental Protection Agency and others suggest that environmental and health dangers are greater than had been thought previously. It suggests that wastewater associated with the ‘fracking’ process contains high levels of radioactivity, often at levels much higher than federal regulators say is safe to be treated by sewage plants. It also highlights a lack of regulatory oversight as a central problem. Obviously the regulatory context in the UK is different, but as evidence emerges adopting a precautionary approach seems clearly sensible.

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