UK REPORT CALLS FOR “FRACK-FREE” ZONES
A report commissioned by groups including the National Trust and the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust called for the UK to designate “frack-free zones” in an effort to protect the country’s wildlife and avoid water pollution. According to the study, over 500 sites notable for their importance to wildlife are located in areas under license to fracking companies, and 2,500 more could be at risk. The report warned against the contamination of groundwater that could result from fracking, pointing to methane contamination found in aquifers in the United States in connection with shale gas extraction. Although the British government has argued that UK laws are strong enough to prevent such pollution, environmentalists are concerned about the government’s leniency towards the industry, which enjoys tax breaks and a quick route through the planning process and is not required to take out insurance against pollution. Currently, the UK is strongly backing shale gas development, and on Wednesday EU politicians voted for tougher rules on exposing the environmental impact of oil and conventional gas exploration—while excluding shale gas. See http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/13/frack-free-zones-uk-wildlife-water-shale-gas and http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/12/eu-parliament-shale-gas-environmental-code.