In an attempt to increase energy supplies, drilling has begun on the first project to extract natural gas from underground shale in the United Kingdom. However, environmental and health questions have arisen, prompting the House of Commons Select Committee to launch an inquiry into the safety of the process used to obtain the natural gas. Known as hydraulic fracturing, the extraction occurs after chemical fluids are pumped into wells to crack the shale and allow gas to flow up pipes for collection.
In the United States, where shale gas has been produced for several years, some findings suggest that the extraction coincides with increased methane and wastewater in drinking water supplies near drilling operations.
In states such as New York, drilling has been halted completely pending further investigation after the discovery of cases where people living near natural gas shale projects were actually able to ignite gas in the water running from their tap.
Philip Mitchell, a Green Party councilor living near the United Kingdom project underway in Blackpool, has begun compiling a petition asking for the exploration to be stopped until its safety to the health of humans and the environment is confirmed. Professor Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Center for Climate Change is also raising concerns over a potential increase in greenhouse gases during the shale gas extraction process, stating, “Given that we need to get our emissions down very radically, the idea of trying to extract yet another fossil fuel, with more carbon emissions, is completely at odds with the scale of the challenge we need to deal with climate change.”
We appreciate your diligence, House of Commons Select Committee members, Councilor Mitchell, Professor Anderson, and other parties, in prioritizing of public and environmental health. Let us all step toward developing the most sustainable forms of energy for a verdant British Isles and protected world.
During a February 2008 international gathering, Supreme Master Ching Hai further reminded of the need to focus not on alternative energy, but on the more urgently needed adjustments to reverse the planet's foremost threat of climate change.