This is a call to be ready, and intellectually armed, for the arrival on our shores of yet more environmentally exploitative practices pioneered in the US. Remember, when they sneeze, we catch a cold almost instantly.
It concerns, as discussed in a separate post, the long and close relationship between Big Tobacco and Big Oil. In early December last year Hcigs, an e-cigarette company based in Montana, approached H-gas, a shale gas drilling concern also based in Montana, to help it develop methane fuelled fuel-cell batteries for its ever more power-hungry, and ever-more cumbersome devices. Daft enough as this seems, what happened next is even dafter: failing – obviously – to produce a sufficiently reliable and safe fuel-cell device they began work instead on exporting the technology of e-cigarettes to the process of fracking.
The appalling result is ‘frapping’: blasting super-pressure propylene glycol vapour (i.e. what comes out of e-cigarettes) down into shale rock so it can bond with methane, liquify into a propylene glycol methane gel and be sucked up to allow harvesting of the desperately sought after gas. With initial test-drilling results in much is being made of the supposedly safer, cleaner credentials of the new technique.
But it is not safer. Having obtained a copy of the results US activist Peter Berg reveals:
- methane leakages into domestic water supply a thousand times smaller than with normal fracking but still significant enough to cause a small – invisible – fire risk in sinks
- the possibility of cows and other animals close to wells becoming chemically dependent on methane particulates
- earth tremors a thousand times less powerful than from normal fracking but still noticeable enough for people to ask ‘did you feel that?’
So, ready for the fight? You better be. Get your wellies, grab your coat, don your waterproofs, and get over to here to start co-ordinating.