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UK Gives Fracking Industry Green Light Despite Tremors, Toxins

Credentials of self proclaimed 'greenest government ever' in tatters, say environmental groups

- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

The UK government lifted a ban on hydraulic fracturing in the country Thursday, ending an 18-month suspension of the toxic shale gas extraction process.

A masked man takes part in anti-fracking protest Dec 1, 2012. (Chloe Parker /Alamy) Fracking was banned in the country after two small earthquakes near Blackpool, Lancashire were tied to two exploratory drilling sites in the area. The British energy firm Cuadrilla Resources halted production in the coastal area after admitting they were the likely cause of the quakes, leading to the temporary moratorium on the industry.

Prior to the announcement, anti-fracking activists have been protesting against the industry across the country.

Protesters from Frack Off London dressed in orange boiler suits and gas masks last week and erected a 20ft faux drilling rig outside the house of lawmaker Lord John Browne.

Browne, also a non-executive in the Cabinet Office, is simultaneously the chairman of the UK fracking company Cuadrilla, who will now be reopening their drilling site.

UK climate and Energy Secretary Ed Davey announced the lifting of the ban Thursday, saying new 'seismic monitoring' regulations could help curb the risk of tremors. He, however, failed to address the issue of toxic ground water and air contamination caused by fracking—issues anti-fracking activists around the world have been warning about.

Chris Shearlock, sustainable development manager at The Co-operative Group, stated:

We're concerned UK regulation has yet to catch up with shale gas and it's important to realize that the risks of groundwater contamination can't be totally eliminated even with good regulation. Shale gas extraction risks derailing the government's own greenhouse gas reduction targets, and with over half of our gas requirement already being imported, a limited input of shale gas will in fact increase our reliance on foreign gas, leaving us vulnerable to price volatility. Instead, the UK should concentrate on renewable technologies, which not only offer a sustainable energy future but thousands of new jobs and more stable energy prices.

Britain and Ireland Frack Free released a statement last week urging the government to reject the new proposals to reopen and expand drilling sites:

In an effort to step up the focus of attention on this harmful technique and its effect on people, landscape and ecosystems in Britain, residents of Sussex, Falkirk, Belfast, the Fylde, the Ribble Estuary and the Vale of Glamorgan have come together as a UK-wide deputation to ask for action, not words, on this crucial subject.

The credentials of the 'greenest government ever' are already in tatters and to allow fracking in the UK would be the final nail in the coffin for Cameron's green agenda.