European Union's fracking pronouncement: Full speed ahead, Britain

While France and Germany have quixotically shut down what might have been their own hydraulic-fracturing endeavors before they ever even had a chance to begin, British Prime Minister David Cameron has been aggressively pursuing his own domestic fracking plans as part of a long-term agenda to mitigate the steeply rising gas and electricity bills about which Brits have been feeling deeply upset (although their prices are still relatively better than the bills coming due across the wider EU, yikes).


After having to politically champion the cause of hydraulic fracturing in the face of vehemently opposed environmentalist interests, the British government announced last week that they were opening up a bunch of areas for shale oil-and-gas exploration — although domestic opposition was not the only potential source of consternation with which they had to contend, via Reuters:

British Prime Minister David Cameron has warned the European Commission not to propose European Union-wide legislation to regulate the nascent fracking industry, saying such a move could create uncertainty and stifle investment.

Rising energy bills are a big issue ahead of a 2015 election and Cameron is keen to tap Britain’s large resources of shale gas to shore up the country’s energy security as its North Sea oil reserves decline.

In a letter to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso released on Tuesday, Cameron said the European Union could derail investment in British shale gas extraction, or fracking as the process is known, if it chose to legislate.

“I am not in favour of new legislation where the lengthy timeframes and significant uncertainty involved are major causes for concern,” Cameron wrote in the letter dated Dec. 4. “The industry in the UK has told us that new EU legislation would immediately delay imminent investment.”

Fortunately, it seems that the European Union is ready to get smart on the energy front, and that esteemed group of bureaucrats evidently decided to heed Cameron’s advice and shelve plans for further fracking regulations, via The Times:


David Cameron has called on European leaders to press ahead with fracking after seeing off the threat of new EU restrictions on the industry.

The Prime Minister had feared that Europe would fall farther behind the US in exploiting the energy source if the European Commission imposed new legal rules on the drilling.

He urged European companies to start fracking in earnest after EU officials confirmed that there would be no new legislation.

This is all happening at the same time that the European Union as well as several individual European countries are doing quite a bit of backtracking on the wildly optimistic green-energy policies that they so hoped would help to rid them of fossil fuels but have instead have succeeded mostly at mutual impoverishment.

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