Thirty years ago the churches were beginning to wake up to the fact that we as Christians should not only be concerned about traditional understandings of salvation but also our relationship, care and stewardship of the natural world aka the Creation. And so now care for Creation is high on the agenda for most churches. For many it has been a new discovery.
it has taken many forms and so today many Christians with a concern for the environment oppose fracking, but almost every occasion they are less than accurate in their objections. An example is a recent article by Bob Turner for the the Lancaster faith and justice group, and Independent Catholic News gets his facts very wrong and spins things to the point of inaccuracy. Local Anglicans from the Diocese of Blackburn are equally inaccurate
These type of views opposing fracking are almost the orthodoxy for green christians of all denominations and are echoed by the Environment Group of the Anglican Diocese of Blackburn. It is frustrating to find a high level of inaccuracy and poor argument as this does not reflect well on one’s Christian calling.
I make no apology for my criticisms and suggest that before well-meaning Christians make a public comment they ensure that they have their facts right and are not blown about by every wind of doctrine from Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. It would also help if “practitioners” [those working in the industry and there are numbers of well-qualified Christians working in various parts of the petroleum industry] were listened too and brought into the discussions by the church. However, I do not see that happening as the usual “green” arguments against fracking would be challenged, if not destroyed.
Here is the article;
to be found on
and F&J bulletin Sept 18
I have lifted it and reproduce it below with my comments as extended quotations
WHY CATHOLICS STAND AGAINST FRACKING IN LANCASHIRE
Following the announcement – on the last day of Parliament before summer – that Fracking at the Preston New Road site in Lancashire has been given the final go-ahead by the Government, I would like to outline a few points to Claire Perry our Energy and Clean Growth Minister.
Fracking is one of the dirtiest methods of extracting fossil fuels.
Fracking for gas is very clean compared to coal mining whether deep or open-cast. Having worked in an underground copper mine, I was appalled by the dirtiness of going down a coal mine. My snot was black for days 🙂 I visited an open cast which was better but very dusty and messy. (it has now been restored and the area is looking good.) What surprised me at Preston New Road on three visits is how clean it is – no dust, no smells, very little noise etc
Part of the myth against fracking is that it is DIRTY and is part of the mantra. If fracked gas is so dirty, why don’t those who oppose stop using all petroleum – which is nearly 100% fracked.
Its production of gas would not be compatible with the targets to cut fossil fuel use required to tackle climate change.
Here there is a difference of conclusions, but many environmental friendly people e.g. Lord Deben reckon that fracked gas is compatible climate change targets. There is good reason for this, as methane is CH4, and coal is mostly (impure) Carbon, so that combustion of coal produces far more CO2 for the same amount of heat , which is then converted to energy. (I am aware of Howarth’s claims that gas is worse than coal, but prefer to follow all the other 95+% of researchers.) That is the stated position of Cuadrilla and many working in petroleum. Oh yes, I know some petroleum workers don’t care about it but many do.
The health hazards and pollution of water resources are well documented
Many of the US health surveys have been challenged and one paper at least was retracted for totally inaccurate results
This paper on asthma in Pennsylvania includes maps which show that people in fracking areas have less asthma than elsewhere. – a poor argument
Within the UK there have been the flawed Medact reprots on fracking which CANNOT demonstrate any ill effects of fracking – and admit it.
There have been cases of water pollution in the USA caused by bad management of water on the surface. The only pollution of an aquifer was at Pavilon WY where fracking was carried out a few hundred feet below an aquifer and combined with poor drilling practice this caused pollution.
In the UK fracking can only occur at great depth below an aquifer and there are further restrictions. Note – the aquifer at PNR is unsuitable for domestic use, yet protestors want to protect it. Further, fracking will take place about 2 kilometers below the aquifer, meaning that as cracks for fracking extend only 300 metres, they will miss the aquifer by over a kilometre.
There is a risk at surface due to spillage hence the tight regulations on water containment etc. During the wet winter some were concerned by leakage of surface water on the PNR pad – but this was rainwater and was contained by bunding. I did visit the site when it was wettest.
These two comments are ill-informed scaremongering and ignore the controls on fracking.
and the fear of earthquakes is an unknown quantity not to be ignored.
Undoubtedly people have a fear of earthquakes as too many on hearing the word “earthquake” think of massive Mag 7+ quakes rather than a tremor which will probably not be felt. Fracking does produce “seismic events” most of which are too small to be felt. Even the two big ones at Preese hall were very minor , hardly felt and caused no damage.
This is a classic scare tactic as many do not realise how minute even a Mag 3 quakes is. Hence my blog on quakes having been through the largest recorded Himalayan quake
The “Not for Shale” campaign of Greenpeace was very misleading on earthquakes
It will lead to damaging development in the countryside
The Elswick gas well from 300 yards!! This is what will be seen of a completed well!! It is behind the bushes halfway between the pylon and the larger pole
and hit house prices.
There are no grounds for this dogmatic statement and indications at PNR is that there has been no effect.
It is estimated it would require 6000 wells to replace 50% of the UK’s gas imports over a 15 year period.
Exactly how many, no one knows , but even allowing 40 wells per pad, this would mean 150 multi-well pads and they would be in various parts of the country rather than only in Lancashire
The pipelines and the millions of extra lorry movements up and down country roads, would bring excessive pollution and serious disruption to large parts of the country.
Apart from the occasional hold-up due to a delivery, the traffic has run smoothly at PNR – EXCEPT when protestors have caused problems neccisitating road closures to the inconvenience of many.
I ask What excessive pollution?
Further the pipelines for gas are already in place in Lancashire, but few notice them
The impact of one single well has been significant in North Yorkshire, where impacts from noise, traffic and noxious smells are reported .
This was a leak from an existing well, (nothing to do with fracking) and the smells were due to mercaptans which were added so any escaping gas could be smelt!! At PNR the noise can hardly be heard from the road, traffic impact has been low, except that caused by protestors often resulting in road closures, there no smells even on the pad.
It has been said that some local businesses have closed and the community is divided.
“It has been said” is simply speculative. However local businesses have suffered through the protestors. Rather than make unfounded assertions evidence should be provided.
Which businesses have closed?
As for dividing communities protestors and NGOs have done that well!
The combined impact of over 6,000 wells would be wide-ranging and severe…. a far cry from the wonderful opportunities that are laid out in Cuadrilla’s glossy brochure.
It is difficult to say what the numbers would be , but they would be spread over UK and not just Lancashire. Further they would not all be in use at one time and restoration would be carried on disused wells.
Some years back I drove through part of Pennsylvania where there was a lot of fracking. I had to look hard for the wells.
There were 8 wells 150 yds from where I was standing – directly bwehind the bush!
Cuadrilla, now granted the licence to frack at Preston New Road in September, is one of a group of fracking companies of which INEOS is the major player.
INEOS the hate firm but has no relevance to Lancashire. INEOS is a leading chemical firm, which at Runcorn produces the chlorine we need for our water supplies to be safe to drink.
INEOS produces Ethane from the fracked gas….. a long and dirty process.
Really , what is the evidence? The process is as clean as other industrial processes and thus I presume the author would like to see all products made from ethane be banned, whether medicines or other goods we use.
Ethane is the base material for plastics used in packaging…. the same plastics which we are allegedly trying to reduce !…. However INEOS is building bigger factories to produce more and more .
This is the latest theme in the wake of the plastic straw concerns. [I loath plastic straws along with excess plastic.] It is claimed, without evidence, that INEOS only want fracked gas to make more plastic (to make more pollution.) This is wrong as most will be used for fuel e.g. to heat 80% of UK houses.
This is simplistic on plastics as much plastic use has a long life e.g. in cars, multi-use plastic containers, my compost bin, water-butts, parts of mobile phones, computers, kitchen utensils etc etc
Further at Runcorn Ineos use gas to make caustic soda and chlorine. Chlorine is used to make our water safe.
The owner has just been revealed as the richest man in the UK with his wealth more than tripling in the last 12 months and he recently received a knighthood in the queen’s birthday honours list.
So what, – Lord Sugar, sir Richard Branson etc – even Dame V Westwood 😦
Carroll Muffett, president of the US Centre for International Environmental Law, states that “Around 99% of the feedstock for plastics is fossil fuels ……..there is a deep and pervasive relationship between oil and gas companies and plastics.”
That is well-known, but why make it malign.
Earlier this month Ms Perry’s department published The 2018 International Climate Finance (ICF) results. These show the beneficial impact UK investments can have in tackling climate change and in protecting vulnerable people. The ICF has supported 47 million people to cope with the effects of climate change and has provided 17 million people with improved access to clean energy.
There is no clean energy. Every form of energy is DIRTY including all renewables.
The photo is of the foundations of a wind turbine. Imagine that on a moor with a peat bog.
There is a contradiction here. We have done wonders elsewhere in the world but we appear to be taking a backward step with our responsibilities on home soil.
Liz Hutchins, Friends of the Earth’s Director of Campaigns
This leaflet from FoE had to be withdrawn after complaints to the ASA in Jan 2017 for unsubstantiated claims. Craig Bennett could not answer the complaints with a TV interviewer. Why should we listen to FoE when they have consistently misrepresented fracking?
said it had taken seven years for the Fracking industry to reach the point it had, during which time Renewable Energy sources had gone from supplying one tenth of the UK’s electricity to a third.
As electricity is a fraction of energy usage , that is still less than 10 %. The chart below shows how little energy was renewable up to 2014. Even if you scale it up 5 times it is still minimal. Looking at the chart reminds me I need to go to Specsavers
We have urgent problems to tackle, as highlighted by Pope Francis in his Encyclical, Laudato Si.
The pope said nothing about fracking. Repeat 100x
Much of what he says is spot on and is a call for environmental responsibility
Fossil fuels must stay in the ground
Who says so?
What would we do for energy, medicines, and many plastic items without them?
A good exercise is to spend a day not using anything dependent on fossil fuels. For a start we could not use tap water as that is made safe by chlorine from Ineos’ Runcorn plant. Bicycles are out too
That is a misrepresentation of the the UCL paper which claimed reasonably the 80% of coal needs to be left in the ground, 50% of gas and 33% of oil. That gives a very different picture.
Too often activists make this false claim, but #keepitinthe ground is more important than truthfulness. It does not help over-stating things when the original warning was clear enough
and we need to stop our binge on single use plastic as soon as possible
Wonderful virtue signalling! The process of getting rid of single use plastic has been going on for years, starting with charging for plastic bags. It seems to be happening without eco-activists!!
The over- and wrong use of plastics is only one of the issues we face today.
…. or the future is very bleak for our grandchildren and their children.
sometimes I think Green Christians have taken over from the men in sandwich boards proclaiming “The end of the world is nigh”
This article is like an incredibly bad and confused sermon from a weak theology student!!! as one person commented
Why was it published in Faith and Justice Newsletter and Independent Catholic News? Surely it is counter=productive/
To deal with the seriousness of all environmental issues we need a much more informed and rational level of discourse – and take heed of St Augustine
and realise that many will only respond to a nudge to help them change one thing rather than an apocalyptic rant. When they find the flaws they’ll reject the lot.
This kind of apocalyptic scaremongering is both childish and counter-productive
Sadly it is the common ground of far too many Christian environmentalists at present. This applies to all denominations whether Roman Catholics, Anglicans or non-conformists. Anglicans in Lancashire are similarly ill-informed and apocalyptic
To end with some humour
In the newly released parish resource film Global Healing Bishop John Arnold is asking us to take practical action in many different ways including nagging our politicians.
See: www.ourcommonhome.co.uk/practical-response [12min 40sec]