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Just how many problems is it that would be solved by fracking?

Summary:
We will admit to a certain surprise at present:Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy corporation, is facing an investigation into a spike in the cost of natural gas and a knock-on effect that threatens to disrupt the supply of meat in the food chain within a fortnight.On Friday night, more than 40 MEPs signed a letter accusing Gazprom of “deliberate market manipulation” by ratcheting up gas prices to record levels. On Monday, electricity prices in the UK surged to 11 times above normal levels – a record high caused by a crunch in the gas supply chain and a lack of wind to power turbines.….As a result, household energy bills are likely to rise next year but the immediate effect has been to force the closure of two “globally significant” fertiliser plants in the UK that will lead to shortages

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We will admit to a certain surprise at present:

Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy corporation, is facing an investigation into a spike in the cost of natural gas and a knock-on effect that threatens to disrupt the supply of meat in the food chain within a fortnight.

On Friday night, more than 40 MEPs signed a letter accusing Gazprom of “deliberate market manipulation” by ratcheting up gas prices to record levels. On Monday, electricity prices in the UK surged to 11 times above normal levels – a record high caused by a crunch in the gas supply chain and a lack of wind to power turbines.

….

As a result, household energy bills are likely to rise next year but the immediate effect has been to force the closure of two “globally significant” fertiliser plants in the UK that will lead to shortages of carbon dioxide, a by-product crucial to the meat processing industry and the manufacture of fizzy drinks.

That a supplier with market power decides to exercise it doesn’t surprise us at all. Nor does the price rise more generally. If the supply of electricity is not linked to price - which it isn’t, it’s linked to whether the wind blows or not - then high prices do not become their own usual cure for high prices.

What does though surprise us is that we cannot see anyone pointing out the solution to these varied problems. Reverse the decision to ban fracking. That would enable farming to continue - the country doesn’t have enough land to even try the non-fertiliser organic methods at any scale - and solve the pig stunning issue, bring electricity prices down and even increase the security of electricity supply.

The number of problems to be solved by fracking seems large, the number caused by banning it equally so. We’ve a free gift of nature down there in the Bowland Shale and not taking advantage of it seems absurd. Especially since the argument against doing so is that entirely spurious concern about earthquakes at as much as 0.5 on the Richter Scale. This is the sort of level of a heavy lorry going past the end of the road, a cat jumping off the bookshelves in the next room.

The ban is publicly justified by an entirely made up and created concern. We should re-examine that justification and reverse the decision. Fracking cures what ails much of the energy system at present. So, we should go fracking.

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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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