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How can we tell whether the fracking earthquake limit is nonsense or not?

Summary:
Fracking in the UK cannot continue if earthquakes of 0.5 or more are recorded. A break must be had if one is so recorded. This rather, as Sir Jim Radcliffe has noted - as the just resigned fracking “tsar” has done - puts the kibosh upon the use of the technology. That is, we’ve not actually banned fracking but we’ve put in place a rule which has that same effect.Now, of course, it is possible that such a 0.5 limit is necessary. Don’t want to shake the country down after all. We have made obvious our views on this a couple of times. It is not a useful nor sensible safety rule it is, instead, an attempt to ban fracking on spurious safety grounds. But how can or should we try to prove this?The Government has been accused of "blatant double standards" for allowing drilling in Cornwall that is

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Fracking in the UK cannot continue if earthquakes of 0.5 or more are recorded. A break must be had if one is so recorded. This rather, as Sir Jim Radcliffe has noted - as the just resigned fracking “tsar” has done - puts the kibosh upon the use of the technology. That is, we’ve not actually banned fracking but we’ve put in place a rule which has that same effect.

Now, of course, it is possible that such a 0.5 limit is necessary. Don’t want to shake the country down after all. We have made obvious our views on this a couple of times. It is not a useful nor sensible safety rule it is, instead, an attempt to ban fracking on spurious safety grounds. But how can or should we try to prove this?

The Government has been accused of "blatant double standards" for allowing drilling in Cornwall that is able to cause stronger tremors than fracking.

The United Downs Deep Geothermal Project, in Redruth, Cornwall, is the UK’s first geothermal extraction site which opened in December 2018. It consists of two deep wells at least 2,500m in depth being drilled into the ground to extract renewable energy.

However, unlike fracking, tremors caused by geothermal drilling are not formally regulated by a national government body. This is despite the “seismic hazard” of the process which can cause earthquakes “magnitude four and above” that could be felt by up to 4000 Cornish homes,

If you are drilling for geothermal power, something environmentalists generally approve of, then you can cause earthquakes several hundred times more powerful - the Richter Scale is a logarithmic one - than if you are drilling for natural gas. The rules is therefore not a safety one, it’s a deliberate attempt to impose bureaucratic safety standards to ban fracking.

Thus, obviously, either ban geothermal drilling under those same rules or lift the allowable limit for fracking. For the imposition of different rules dependent upon whether some approve, or don’t, of the activity being undertaken is rule by caprice, not law.

The country is being shaken down here and it’s not by earthquakes.

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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