The Environmental Audit Committee of the UK Parliament published a report today in which it called for a moratorium on fracking until the climate and environmental health impacts had been investigated further.
The report is a summary of the statements made, and responses to questions, by a range of stakeholders and the conclusions that the Committee reached on the basis of those statements and answers. It is a useful summary of the key issues in relation to the environmental and health impacts and what key stakeholders considered the risks and dangers are; or are not. It is not a scientific review of the evidence.
The committee re-affirms the importance of key mitigation measures that have been identified in a number of other fracking reports and papers. Two key ones are monitoring health impacts across the lifecycle including post closure and being open about the chemicals used.
Despite the assurances from some that environmental risks can be safely accommodated by existing regulatory systems, an extensive range of uncertainties remains over particular hazards — to groundwater quality and water supplies, from waste an d air emissions , to our health and to biodiversity, to the geological integrity of the areas involved, and from noise and disruption. Uncertainty about their significance is in part a reflection of the fact that fracking operations have yet to move beyond the exploratory stage in the UK. It is imperative that the environment is protected from potentially irreversible damage.
Fracking must be prohibited outright in protected and nationally important areas.
Full containment of methane must be mandated.
Fracking should be prohibited in all water source protection zones.