Production of shale gas has turned the USA from a major importer of fossil fuels to, in the near future, an important exporter. Some European countries, in contrast, have banned hydraulic fracturing, the method essential to the extraction of shale gas and other non-conventional fuels. The economy of the USA continued to grow over the past two years, in large part because of shale gas, while that of most European countries stagnates. Reports of pollution of drinking water, the use of unknown and possibly toxic chemicals, the consumption of vast amounts of water, release of radiation, and the triggering of earthquakes appear to have convinced much of the population of Europe that fracking is catastrophic for the environment. Proponents of the production of shale gas argue that fracking has been used for decades for the recovery of conventional gas or geothermal energy and that it can be conducted in an environmental friendly manner. Opponents of shale gas and other sources of non-conventional fossil fuels argue that their exploitation will merely delay the inevitable passage to renewable energy, with major consequences for global climate.
These are some of the issues discussed in the round-table discussion.
Specialist, Energy and Climate Change Select Committee at House of Commons, UK
Professor and Head of Section, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Germany
Research Professor, Department of Geosciences, Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research, Spain
Chair of Petroleum Production and Geothermal Energy, University of Leoben, Austria