U.K. lawmakers proposed to tighten shale-gas regulations, including a requirement to disclose the chemicals used and monitoring methane in groundwater, in amendments tabled by the main opposition Labour party.
The party, leading the ruling coalition in opinion polls before an election scheduled for May, presented proposed changes to the Infrastructure Bill in the upper chamber House of Lords, it said today in an emailed statement. The proposals would add to regulation of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for gas.
“The amendments would require well-by-well disclosure of the frack fluid, baseline monitoring of methane levels in the groundwater and Environmental Impact Assessments for all fracking sites and the inclusion of water companies as statutory consultees in the planning process,” the opposition party said in the statement. “In addition, all baseline monitoring will have to take place over a 12-month period.”
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With nine months to go before the general election and some voters concerned that fracking will contaminate water, add to greenhouse gases and despoil the countryside, Labour says it aims to ensure public safety and the environment. The government says fracking, in which natural gas is blasted out of shale rock by pumping water, sand and chemicals underground, would increase energy self-sufficiency, cut consumer bills and create jobs.
The U.K. is competing with Poland to lead development of the resource in Europe and replicate a shale boom in the U.S. that made it the largest producer of oil and gas. IGas Energy Plc (IGAS) and Cuadrilla Resources Ltd. are leading efforts in U.K. exploration after the lifting of a moratorium at the end of 2012.
“Shale-gas extraction must only be permitted to happen in the U.K. with robust regulation and comprehensive monitoring,” Tom Greatrex, Labour’s energy spokesman, said in the statement. “People need to have confidence that the regulatory framework protects their health and the environment.”