There is a lot of public concern – and media hysteria – over shale gas, which is hardly surprising, given the torrent of negative propaganda from ‘green’ groups. However, there is another side to the story. As an MEP and member of the ITRE Commission. I have looked at shale gas first-hand, in Pennsylvania and in Texas. In the small town of Mansfield, I found local residents delighted by the economic resurgence based on the new shale industry, in their previously declining town. I did not find people complaining about pollution, or earth tremors, or any other problems. When drilling is completed, the landscape is reinstated, and the remaining well is no more intrusive than a garden shed – far less intrusive and disturbing, in fact, than a wind farm. America is enjoying an amazing industrial renaissance based on shale gas. Businesses that were ‘off-shored’ to Asia are coming home. There is more of everything: jobs, prosperity, and energy security, whilst industry is more competitive on the back of lower energy prices. These benefits stand in stark contrast to Europe, where energy prices are far too high, jobs and investment are moving abroad, and we depend on insecure energy suppliers such as Russia. We hear about methane in tap water. Yet, this often comes from the natural decay of plant material in the soil. There have been a few cases of pollution from cracked piping, but occasional minor issues will occur in any energy industry. Seismic events resulting from fracking are very small – far less than those associated with coal mining. Indeed, shale gas is cleaner, safer and [...]
As a MEP and a member of the ITRE Committee, I fear that we in Europe face a double energy crisis – in terms of competitiveness, but also security of supply. Former Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger has said “Europe can no longer afford to adopt a unilateral climate policy”. And former Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani has said “We are creating an Industrial Massacre in Europe”. They are right. The EU has set aggressive targets for emissions reductions, which have meant gross over-investment in intermittent and expensive renewables. Brussels has forced the closure of low-cost coal-fired power stations. It has created a cat’s-cradle of subsidies; incentives; feed-in tariffs; renewables obligations; quasi-carbon-taxes like the Emissions Trading Scheme; capacity payments for spinning reserve; and so on. And it has resolutely set its face against low-cost alternatives like coal and indigenous gas. When I challenged the new EU Energy Commissioner Cañete on this issue, his solution was simply “a more integrated European energy market”. That’s fiddling at the margin, and ignoring the real issues. Energy pricing in the EU is driving industries, jobs and investment off-shore, often to jurisdictions with lower environmental standards, thus potentially increasing global emissions, while we undermine European economies. Let’s look at some examples. [Tweet "Since 2007, the European aluminium smelting industry has closed 36% of its capacity"]Take aluminium. Since 2007, the European aluminium smelting industry has closed 36% of its capacity – eleven smelters out of 24. It’s lost around 42,000 jobs – many of them high-value jobs in R&D. And this is not because of lack of demand, which has been rising. So imports have been rising [...]
In a few words
We represent the widely understood Central Europe energy sector (electricity generation, distribution and transmission, renewables, gas, oil, heat generation and distribution, chemical industries, etc.), universities and scientific institutions.