I’ve heard Josh talk about how scary and lonely it felt when the gas industry first came knocking on his door on more than one occasion.
But then a strong, passionate community rose up, and he realized that he wasn’t alone.
We’re all in this together. Our hearts all sink when we see families like the Fentons and Lipskys suffering because of drilling. Our spirits all rise when we see areas like Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania or Longmont, Colorado achieve a ban. And our eyes have all been glued to the battle going on in Balcombe, UK because their fight is our fight.
Tomorrow we’ll screen for the European Parliament, and it’s never been more clear to us how connected we all are. Walking down the street of Brussels we fortuitously bumped into activist from Bulgaria and New York. Talking to them, the similarities between the movements going on across the globe reveals a connectivity that transcends borders.
Below is a post we wanted to share from Frack Off, a group of activist on the front lines of the fight in Balcombe. They’ve shown an amazing amount of strength and tenacity that we can all learn from and take to heart in our own towns and cities because as they so perfectly stated, their’s is just one battle in a global struggle.
-Lee Ziesche, Gasland Grassroots Coordinator
The sleepy village of Balcombe in West Sussex has until recently not been a place you would associate with industrial development. The surrounding countryside is among the most picturesque you will see out of the train window on the line between London and the seaside town of Brighton. This has all changed since fracking company, Cuadrilla Resources, infamous for the earthquakes it caused when it fracked the first and so far only shale gas well in the UK, set its sights on the village. Cuadrilla wants to drill a shale oil exploration well in Balcombe, targeting a similar formation to the Bakken Shale in North Dakota, but at a much shallower depth.
When local residents realised what was happening the company mobilised its PR machine to win them over. However a public meeting in the village in January 2012 saw Cuadrilla’s management besieged by 300 angry locals, and the company have since avoided similar events. The company has pressed on and with all bureaucratic options for resistance exhausted, a call-out was made for people to gather outside the site when the first equipment arrived. So began the community blockade that has so far lasted over a month. People and groups from across Sussex and the UK have rallied round in support and it is now settling down into a war of attrition, similar to that which ultimately defeated plans for a massive road building program which threatened to carve up the countryside in the early 1990s.
While Cuadrilla have not published any estimates of how much shale oil there might be, a recent report by the US Energy Information Agency (EIA) suggests there could be up to 700 million barrels in the Weald Basin, mostly in Sussex. Given the typical low total production of a shale oil well this would require around 5,000 wells to be drilled. In the Bakken these wells are now being drilled at density of 4 per square mile, with 1.8 mile long horizontals fractured in up to 40 stages along their length. but rather than a population density of 11 people per square mile in North Dakota, there are 1,100 per square mile in Sussex.
Across the UK a similar wave of unconventional oil and gas extraction is being planned, both Shale an Coal Bed Methane (CBM). As easier to extract fossil fuel resources are depleted by unsustainable levels of energy consumption the system is resorting ever more extreme methods to feed itself. As extraction effort grows the pollution, social disruption and the fraction of the economy that must be devoted to energy extraction are also increasing. Licences are also being given away for Underground Coal Gasification (UCG), an insane technique which involves setting fire to coal seams underground and piping the resulting gases to the surface.
Globally the picture is equally bleak, with extreme energy threatening to spread across the planet. Spare a thought for farmers in West Bengal, India already under massive stress from climate change and globalisation, where a huge wave of CBM wells are now planned. These unconventional fossil fuels are also extra carbon which we cannot possibly afford to burn and avert catastrophic climate change. This fight is not about any one technology or country, but about the whole future direction of human society. Will we descend into a extreme energy nightmare where we live, and die, in the shadow of vast energy extraction projects which mainly exist to feed themselves. Or can communities across the planet revolt against the horrific future that is planned from them and take a different course.
-Frack Off UK