Against Shale Gas and Oil and Coal Bed Methane exploitation: Soutien aux opposants au forage de Balcombe, Support for Balcombe’s drilling opponents

Against Shale Gas and Oil and Coal Bed Methane exploitation: Soutien aux opposants au forage de Balcombe, Support for Balcombe’s drilling opponents Communiqué de presse international / International Press Release by French, British, Italian, German, Polish, Swiss, Colombian and Californian groups and organizations, August 28, 2013
British citizens have been showing peaceful but determined opposition to hydraulic fracturing / unconventional oil & gas drilling activities in Balcombe, Sussex, for over a month. Following the first arrests made on July 26th 2013, French groups against fracking “Non aux pétrole et gaz de schiste et de houille” wrote a letter to all MEPs expressing their concerns about the increasingly widespread custom of forcing through industrial projects which pose a known danger to the environment, to people’s health and safety and to local economy – going as far as using violence from the police in order to achieve it. Last week on Wednesday, August 14th the Magistrates Court in Crawley dismissed the police bail that had been placed on that first lot of arrestees of the Balcombe protest (arrested on July 26th and following days). Yet 30 more arrests were made during the demonstration that took place at the site last Monday, 19th of August 2013. Over a thousand people had come to Balcombe to show their opposition to the drilling. They were met by 400 police who had not come to defend the rights of the citizens but the interests of private corporation Cuadrilla. Under the protection of the police, Cuadrilla started the incriminated drilling in Balcombe a fortnight ago. Please note that the only Green Party representative in Parliament Caroline Lucas was also arrested on that day.

French, British, Italian, German, Polish, Swiss, Colombians & Californian groups and organizations against Shale Gas/Oil and Coal Bed Methane hereby reiterate their support to the people of United Kingdom, who are defending their environment and their quality of life. We unite our voices to say NO to unconventional drilling anywhere in the world. We would like to bring back to attention that based on numerous scientific reports unconventional energy sources are aggravating causes to climate change when the whole of their chain of production, from extraction to distribution, is looked at.  They cannot be considered as an alternative to conventional hydrocarbons in a transition towards sustainable energy.

From the point of view of the economy, several studies show that the figures for natural gas have all the makings of a market bubble. They demonstrate, too, that as a solution to joblessness this industry is illusionary because of the temporary and precarious nature of the jobs offered, doubled with the fact that the workforce in use is sourced far away and boarded in poor condition housing. Besides, the low-grade positions offered by the drilling industry cannot make up for the loss of pre-existing local jobs such as in agriculture, trade and tourism.

We would like to ask all leaders of member states of the European Union, with respect to their right to each choose their own mix of energy sources, to put in place all necessary measures for the decrease of energy consumption, helping communities to tend towards sobriety of energy use.  And with that to work in partnership with the industries in order to develop local sources of renewable energy in order to maintain a sustainable economy (instead of the interests of private corporations), the quality and security of water supplies, the salubrity of the air, the beauty of landscapes and the quality of life of European citizens. [Emphasis added]

Please click for list of signatory organisations

Press Contact: Françoise Lienhard ; France : 0033 954 14 53 26

Frack Free Sussex

BIFF! Britain & Ireland Frack Free

[Refer also to:

For Occupational Safety and Health Research and Practice in the U.S. Oil and Gas Extraction Industry by NATIONAL OCCUPATIONAL RESEARCH AGENDA (NORA), October 2011
During 2003-2008, 648 oil and gas extraction workers were fatally injured on the job, resulting in an occupational fatality rate of 29.1 deaths per 100,000 workers – eight times higher than the rate for all U.S. workers.  Nearly half of all fatal events in the oil and gas extraction industry resulted from highway crashes (29%) and workers struck by objects and equipment (20%). Fatality data were compiled from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics…. [Emphasis added]

2010 Manner is which fatal work injuries occurred

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor 2012 Fatalities Statistics, Page 17:
Fatal work injuries in the private mining industry increased by 74 percent in 2010, almost back to the 2008 level. Fatalities in the oil and gas industry accounted for about three-fifths of the fatal work injuries in the mining sector in 2010. [Emphasis added]

Fracking: Tory MPs Attack ‘Disastrous’ Prospect Of Local Shale Gas Exploration by Asa Ben, August 27, 2013, The Huffington Post UK
The prospect of fracking in local constituencies has sparked fury from Tory MPs, with one threatening to “man the barricades” if the shale gas exploration was found to affect local water supplies. George Hollingbery, MP for Meon Valley in Hampshire, warned that the drilling could be “disastrous” in his area because of the sensitivity of the water supply. The attack on fracking from the MP, who serves as parliamentary private secretary to home secretary Theresa May, would put him at odds with coalition ministers. … Speaking to his local paper The Daily Echo, Hollingberry said:

“Any threat to the water supply here would be utterly disastrous – every single person and business relies on that water.” [Emphasis added]

Conservatives against Fracking Website

Britain’s Furor Over Fracking by Roger Cohen, August 26, 2013, The New York Times
BALCOMBE, England — The lovely green hills of the High Weald are Tory country, a corner of West Sussex full of affluent residents who commute to London and like their golf and ambles and thatched cottages. So it is a surprise, in this conservative heartland, to stumble on an encampment of hundreds of activists, foraging in the hedgerows for edible greens, sawing wood for fires, playing flutes and generally enacting a kind of mini-Woodstock. … To which banners on the road outside the village of Balcombe offer this retort: “Fracking kills.”

Bianca Jagger has joined the battle against the dash for gas. A Green M. P. has been arrested. So has Natalie Hynde, daughter of the rockers Ray Davies of the Kinks and Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders. Scuffles have erupted at the gates of the site where Cuadrilla Resources — whose chairman, Lord Browne, once headed BP — is drilling for oil, and is suspected of doing exploratory work for possible fracking. Arthur Melduish, 29, emerged bleary-eyed from his tent. “Fracking is not wanted here on this planet,” he said. “It would poison our water supply. I’ve read how in the United States you can light your taps. We don’t drink fire in this country.”

… It poses problems of methane leakage, and the disposal of huge quantities of waste water. In densely populated, water-strained areas, like southern England, these issues become especially acute. Europe as a whole is skeptical. France has banned it, as has Bulgaria. German beer makers are angst-filled. So Cameron has stuck his neck out on fracking, with little or no national debate. He has vowed to win the fracking cause while avoiding any major speech on the government’s supposed commitment to low-carbon energy. Like the Labour prime minister Tony Blair’s advocacy of genetically modified food in the 1990s — an attempt that failed — he has taken on nature-loving middle England. … Cameron, whose Conservative Party faces an election in 2015, is more concerned about losing votes to the right (the Euro-skeptic U. K. Independence Party) than to the left. As fracking’s cheerleader, he secures his right flank — and gets The Daily Mail, The Telegraph and The Times of London behind him.

Sue Taylor, a chartered accountant and longtime Tory, is unimpressed. She appears at Balcombe’s Half Moon Inn pub with three friends and a T-shirt that reads “Conservatives against fracking.” She has started a Web site and just donated $30 to a local store collecting for the protesters. “I’ve never done anything like this before,” she says. … What has enraged Taylor is the absence of any debate or scientific review, Cameron’s U-turn on protecting “Areas of Outstanding National Beauty” (the High Weald is one), the threat to water and the unsavory politics: The local Tory M. P. is Francis Maude, who, as minister for the Cabinet Office, appointed Lord Browne in 2010 as the government’s lead nonexecutive director, an advisory role. Taylor’s friend Jackie Bedson says: “This is worse than anything the Bushes ever did — well, that we know of.” [Emphasis added]

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