A British friend of mine has waded into the debate on fracking and has done so in high form. Lord Borwick of Hawkshead is a fairly new Conservative member of the British House of Lords. I had the pleasure of visiting natural-gas production facilities in Pennsylvania with his lordship in October 2013.
Lord Borwick last week led a debate on getting the British government to move forward with fracking, and to do so promptly. His overall theme is that fracking is something that every environmentalist should support.
He found a very colorful, London-based analogy to help his colleagues understand what we saw along the Marcellus Shale last fall.
“It reminded me somewhat of Winter Wonderland, an amusement park that stands in Hyde Park for a couple of months around Christmas,” Lord Borwick explained. “It is put up in one of the most protected and lovely green spaces in the whole country. But the point is that Winter Wonderland is temporary. It goes away eventually.”
“There is noise, there are lights, and there is extra traffic,” he said. “But they go away, and you wouldn’t even know the site was there.”
“The same happens with a shale site,” Lord Borwick continued. “Once the initial flurry is over, the actual production phase is benign. The intrusion stops but the wealth carries on.”
Lord Borwick also addressed concerns that fracking causes earthquakes. While this has happened, the tremors barely register. As he put it: “The government is ensuring safeguards that immediately stop extraction if tremors of 0.5 or more on the Richter scale are recorded. It may be that level is too low, because that’s barely more than the shock felt of ten lords-a-leaping.”
He was the treasurer of the British Conservative party and also has enjoyed a prosperous business career, most notably running Manganese Bronze, the company behind those distinctive black taxis that zip through London.
To see Lord Borwick enjoying his new parliamentary career, click this link and fast forward to 18:11:40. His speech and the fracking debate follow.
Finally, Lord Borwick’s speech is an excellent example of how the oil-and-gas industry benefits by letting people see its operations up close. As guests of Anadarko Petroleum and Energy in Depth, I found plenty of material for an NRO piece, and he now has introduced what he learned into a parliamentary debate and the broader discussion on the role of energy in Great Britain’s future.
Oil and gas companies would be well advised to heed these words of wisdom from Yogi Berra: “You can observe a lot just by watching.” This is especially true for journalists and other opinion makers.