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WWF: Government should copy France and ban ‘fracking’

WWF welcomed the decision by the French politicians yesterday to ban 'fracking' and called on the Government to follow their lead, given current environmental concerns around shale gas extraction.

'Fracking', or hydraulic fracturing, is a technique used to extract shale gas from rock by injecting chemicals, water and sand into shale rock formations under high pressure. Environmental concerns around the process include the contamination of water supplies by the fracking fluids and from gas leaking into water supplies, creating risks of explosions.

Additionally, recent research suggests that, instead of leading to lower greenhouse gas emissions as its proponents have suggested, shale gas could have greenhouse gas footprint which is significantly worse than conventional gas and which is as bad as or worse than coal.

Jenny Banks, Energy and Climate Change Policy Officer at WWF-UK, said: “Some industry players are trying very hard to present shale gas as the solution to all our energy problems. However, the reality is that the risks associated with fracking are unknown and the greenhouse gas emissions may be worse than coal.

"The Government needs to follow France's lead and, rather than extract every last cubic foot of gas from the ground, whatever the environmental consequences, move away from greenhouse gas emitting fossil fuels in favour of genuinely clean and sustainable renewable energy."

The vote in France's National Assembly will need to be approved by the Senate in June to be passed formally; it follows high-profile opposition to the shale gas exploration in France by environmentalists and opposition Socialists.

WWF recently gave evidence to the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee’s inquiry on shale gas, concluding that due to concerns over ground and surface water contamination attributed to shale gas drilling and greenhouse gas emissions, there should be a moratorium on shale gas production in the UK.

Editor's notes

1. For information on water contamination: Lustgarten, Abrahm, November 13, 2008: ‘Buried Secrets: Is Natural Gas Drilling Endangering U.S. Water Supplies?’ (ProPublica)

2. Cornell University report Methane and the greenhouse-gas footprint of natural gas from shale formations:

3. WWF gave evidence to the Energy and Climate Change Committee’s enquiry into shale gas:

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