Friday, 20 June 2014

Fracking vs European dependence on imported Russian gas

In view of an earlier posting on economic and energy choices:
Futures Forum: Building resilience in local communities and economies: the Transition Town movement today

In the light of the Chancellor's pronouncement that 'We're building a resilient economy'
Futures Forum: Budgeting for resilience?
... and in view of concerns over 'dependence' on Russian fossil fuels
Expert views: Ukraine, Russia and Europe's energy security | Carbon Brief
... it seems that the ongoing EU summit on energy
Futures Forum: EU 2030 Climate and Energy Framework: ..." What is at Stake?"
is taking a very urgent look at 'alternatives':
EU talks turn to renewables as Ukrainian energy crisis looms - Utility Week

... here's a report from yesterday's Independent:

Nato boss claims Russia has secretly infiltrated green groups fighting fracking

JONATHAN BROWN Thursday 19 June 2014

The outgoing Secretary General of Nato has sparked ridicule from environmentalists after claiming that Russia is secretly orchestrating green groups opposed to fracking.

Former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen told journalists that Moscow was coordinating opposition to the controversial technology in order to promote dependence on Russian oil and gas.

“I have met allies who can report that Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organisations - environmental organisations working against shale gas - to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas. That is my interpretation,” he told a briefing at the Chatham House foreign affairs think tank in London.

However Mr Ramussen, who is due to leave the alliance’s top military post later this year after serving a five-year term, did not specify how the Russians were working with environmentalists of whether they were doing so with the knowledge of activists.

Public concern over the potential environmental impact of fracking, in which gas is blasted from shale rock using water and sand, has spawned scores of local opposition groups across the country concerned about pollution and the continued reliance on fossil fuels.

There have been two major protest camps staged at Balcombe in West Sussex and Barton Moss in Greater Manchester, which resulted in dozens of arrests.

Tony Cottee of the environmental group Rising Tide, whose supporters occupied a Cuadrilla drilling rig in Lancashire, described the suggestion as “ridiculous”. “It shows how ludicrously out of touch these people are. He clearly doesn’t know the type of person that has been turning up to demonstrate. There are 60 groups in Frackfree Somerset for example and this includes the Women’s Institute, church groups – we’ve even got a knitting circle. These protests are involving everyone,” he said.

The suggestion also drew an angry response from Greenpeace. Thirty of its activists and journalists were threatened with long jail terms last year after their ship was stormed by Russian security forces during a campaign to highlight drilling in the Arctic. “The idea we’re puppets of Putin is so preposterous that you have to wonder what they’re smoking over at Nato HQ. Mr Rasmussen should spend less time dreaming up conspiracy theories and more time on the facts,” a Greenpeace spokesman said.

Friends of the Earth’s head of campaigns, Andrew Pendleton, was equally dismissive. “Perhaps the Russians are worried about our huge wind and solar potential, and have infiltrated the UK Government,” he said.

As well as grass roots opposition, mainstream wildlife groups including the National Trust, RSPB, the Salmon & Trout Association, the Wildlife Trusts and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, have warned of a lack of regulation and raised concerns over the impact on species posed by fracking.

Alyona Aslanov, a campaigner with protest group Frack Off said the UK imported less than one per cent of its gas from Russia. "The UK anti-fracking movement is almost exclusively made up of grass-roots community groups organising against these developments where they live. There are now over 140 in the UK and that number is growing rapidly. It's people power that is winning this fight not money."

Nato boss claims Russia has secretly infiltrated green groups fighting fracking - Environment - The Independent

The Financial Times is similarly sceptical:
Nato claims Moscow funding anti-fracking groups - FT.com

Unsurprisingly, the cable TV channel sponsored by Moscow finds it ridiculous - as does Greenpeace apparently:
‘What are they smoking?’ Greenpeace ridicules NATO claims of Russian fracking plot — RT News

Equally unsurprising is the response from the Daily Mail in the UK and the Murdoch-owned Australian:
Putin plotting to halt UK fracking, warns Nato chief | Mail Online
Russian spies accused of secret plot with eco-warriors against fracking | The Australian

And the story has been reported internationally:
La OTAN acusa a Rusia de financiar grupos anti-fracking
OTAN acusa a Greenpeace de acuerdo anti-fracking con Rusia | Urgente24
"Was rauchen die?": Nato sieht russische Fracking-Verschwörung - n-tv.de
Russland soll Europas Fracking-Gegner unterstützten
Fracking und Nato: Rasmussen verdächtigt Russland, NGOs zu steuern - SPIEGEL ONLINE
Rasmussen (Navo): 'Moskou financiert Europees verzet tegen schaliegas'

The issues around 'fracking' and 'Russia' are rather more complicated... 

Whilst the Russians would probably not welcome a more energy-independent Europe
How fracking weakens Gazprom, the bedrock beneath Putin’s feet - The Globe and Mail
... it seems that even the Russians are trying a bit of fracking themselves:
As Russia Fracks, Poland Outlaws Anti-Fracking Protest | Oil Change International

Generally speaking, though, the debate over fracking has become highly politicised:
Politicization of Energy Debate in UK to Continue Till Elections, Says MP Dan Byles

Fracking is right and necessary. So publish more evidence

The Independent: EDITORIAL Thursday 20 March 2014

There remains a strong case to be made in favour of investigating Britain’s shale gas reserves;

Misgivings about safety and contamination cannot simply be ignored. If fracking is now proven to be safe and clean then it is incumbent upon Government and industry to set out the evidence and to ensure it reaches those with concerns. Had such details been provided earlier, the increasingly politicised anti-fracking movement might not have become established. We can only hope, now the penny has finally dropped, that it is not too late to avoid widespread disruption.

Fracking is right and necessary. So publish more evidence - Editorials - Voices - The Independent
Letters: Opposition to fracking is based on science - Letters - Voices - The Independent

Less than one in four people support fracking in Britain, research finds

Since the Balcombe protests the public has started turning its back on the new industry with support dropping from 40 per cent last summer to under 25 per cent now

The Telegraph 29 Jan 2014

"It is also interesting to see that the public are not convinced that the payment of compensation to communities in areas where fracking will take place represents a community benefit, but more an attempt to 'get the community's support for fracking in their area', which may signal that payments such as these could be seen as a means of 'buying off' potential opposition. In which case, this is a strategy in need of review." 

Professor Matthew Humphrey added: "These figures may reflect the increasing politicisation of fracking and shale gas as a contentious issue in UK public policy. The public is getting strong messages from protest groups about the dangers of fracking and an equally strong message from the government about the benefits it will bring in terms of secure and affordable energy. The trends seem to show that neither side has won the argument yet."

Less than one in four people support fracking in Britain, research finds - Telegraph

And there are quite extraordinary claims from every side - many unexpected:
James Lovelock on shale gas and the problem with 'greens' | Environment | theguardian.com
Gas Industry Uses The State Police The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force To Silence A Citizen: Intelligence Officer At My Door, 2.1 | Peace . Gold . LOVE

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