A new poll from research group YouGov shows the British are deeply ambivalent about using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to produce natural gas.
41% of respondents favoured extracting shale gas versus 33% who were against. And 68% said doing so would be good for the economy.
But 47% also said fracking would damage the environment.
And 43% said they do not want it done in their town.
Recently, the British Geological Survey doubled its estimates of the country’s shale gas deposits to 1,300 tcf.
The UK lifted its fracking ban in May, but no gas company has yet engaged in the process, which involves shooting large volumes of water and solution into the ground to free up hydrocarbon deposits.
U.S. researchers have found evidence natural gas production is correlated with increased methane in water aquifers, and some evidence drilling chemicals can enter water supplies. Former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has said there has been no definitive proof linking fracking to contamination. The agency is conducting an extensive study of the issue.
Studies have also linked fracking wastewater injections into the ground with earthquakes. Gas companies have in many instances settled complaints with homeowners over contamination without admitting or denying fault.
Recent comments from UK energy minister Michael Fallon — a vocal proponent of fracking — reported by the Telegraph seem to embody the two minds of the British populace:
‘All these people writing leaders saying “why don’t they get on with shale?” — we are going to see how thick their rectory walls are, whether they like the flaring at the end of the drive!’
Protesters recently clashed with police in Balcombe, Sussex — about an hour’s drive south of London — where initial test drilling has begun.