UK govt, fracking industry ‘feathering each other’s nests’
RT:It seems that the UK government is determined to go ahead and boost fracking so do you think you’ll actually be able to turn the tide here?
AC: Well, I remain very optimistic that we will. At the moment there’s relatively few parts of the country directly threatened – it’s mostly to do with testing applications. But everywhere they turn up, local opposition soon gets organized. The local opposition groups are now part of a nationwide network and we are winning the arguments everywhere we go.
RT:What are the basics of your arguments?
AC: The arguments work on different levels – on the local scale there’s the direct threat to water supplies, the health risks , the traffic implications and the water supply issues. At a wider level there’s the whole issue of direction of energy policy. We’re winning that argument comprehensively as well. At the global level, of course, is the implications for global warming. Research coming out of the UK now suggests we need to leave 2/3 of known fossil fuels in the ground if we’re going to stand any chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change, and therefore going down the road of exploring for extreme fossil fuels is the very last thing we need to do.
RT:Talking of fossil fuels, of course, fracking will definitely mean the closure of any coal plants existing in the UK existing – that’s surely got to be a better option hasn’t it?
AC: Some people are trying to paint that gas is the lesser of two evils, but that argument only holds any sway at all if we see gas replacing coal, and there’s no evidence of that happening. In the United States, coal production from the mines is still just as high - they’re just shipping it around the world to other places. So I don’t think there’s any real credibility in that argument at all. And of course, this gas will be used over and above the coal – they’re not going to ignore economic deposits of coal in the long term, so in the long term this is only going to supplement the use of fossil fuels and therefore it’s got to be stopped.
RT:Surely a couple of major economic problems facing people in the UK at the moment is high energy bills, and they seem to be going higher, and employment. David Cameron is saying fracking will in fact create more jobs and lower energy bills.
AC: Well, this is the spin that they’re trying to put on it. I’m literally having solar panels put on my roof tomorrow. If everybody went down that route- that’s the way to energy security. My bills are going to go down 30 percent overnight when I get those panels installed tomorrow. If everybody went down that road they could do likewise and we’re not relying on any imports. And even if we did go down the road of exploiting fossil fuels – what are we going to do when they run out? They are fixed resources, they are going to run out, we’re still faced with the imperative to get to grips with renewables sooner or later. And the argument has got to be sooner rather than later. All that’s happening through going down the extreme fossil fuel route is putting off that imperative even longer.
Other countries have taken that initiative already. Denmark is going to be based almost completely on renewable energies in less than 30 years. It takes political will and a political decision to invest in that technology. Now, the technology is there, we just need to make those political decisions. The Tory government is wracked with links to the industry – they’re just feathering each other’s nests at the moment.