Reprinted from Common Dreams
Despite all of the David Cameron government's fanfare about 'going all out for shale,' widespread resistance has already put the UK's pro-fracking forces on the defensive.
(Image by (Photo: by Frack Free Denton)) Details DMCA
On a week-long trip to the UK last fall, I was struck by how quickly the push to open up the country to fracking has been escalating. Thankfully, activists are mounting a vigorous and creative response, and are more than up to the task of galvanizing the public to put a stop to this mad dash to extract.
That is not to say it will be easy. In rushing to exploit the UK's shale gas reserves, the industry has spent millions on public relations and brazenly overridden the democratic will of British citizens by overturning laws that had prevented drilling under homes. The coalition government, meanwhile, has done the sector's bidding at every turn.
We've seen all of this before. Indeed what is happening in the UK is modeled so closely on the U.S. experience that an October 2014 opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal spoke of "Plotting an American-Style Fracking Revolution in Britain."
So it's worth playing close attention to how that earlier plot played out, both in the United States and in my own country, Canada. The U.S. is not only where the gas companies honed various technologies used in fracking, but also where they honed their branding -- like their pitch, originating in the early 1980s, that natural gas was a "bridge" to a clean energy future.
As opposition has grown, they have cleverly funded studies stamped by big green organizations that understate fracking's huge greenhouse gas impact; touted over-optimistic production forecasts; and in true shock-doctrine style, tried to take advantage of geo-political crisis, like the gas cut-offs in Ukraine, to push through massive export plans that in any other circumstance could never gain legislative or public approval.
And when all else fails, government and industry have turned to criminalizing peaceful activism. They've dispatched heavily armed police against Indigenous communities blockading shale gas exploration in New Brunswick, Canada; gagged families impacted by drilling from criticizing the industry for an entire lifetime; and tried to charge as "terrorists" protesters in Oklahoma who unfurled a banner and dropped glitter at an oil and gas company's office.