Double standard for fracking and wind turbines
Two new reports – one by British journalist George Monbiot and the other by National Public Radio in the US – compare the permitting requirements for oil wells and wind turbines. The results are surprising; the solution; obvious.
Over the past few years, I have been quite critical of Monbiot here, which is really unfortunate because he does some excellent work. So today, I am pleased to direct your attention to one of his articles, which has gone viral. The full text is here, but I draw your attention in particular to the following passage, starting with a quote pertaining to Prime Minister Cameron's recent announcement that citizens should be more able to stop construction of wind farms near their homes:
“The prime minister feels that it is very important that local voters are taken into account when it comes to windfarms and that is why new legislation will be brought forward, so that if people don’t want windfarms in their local areas they will be able to stop them.” (3)
Strangely, he does not feel it is important for their views on drilling rigs to be taken into account. The government’s new planning guidance makes these developments almost impossible to refuse. Planners judging fracking applications are forbidden to consider alternatives to oil and gas (4) . There will be “no standard minimum separation distance”, which means that a fracking rig could be erected right next to your house. And they “should give great weight to the benefits of minerals extraction, including to the economy” (5). If local voters don’t like it, they can go to hell.
See why I like Monbiot?
The issue has also reached the United States, where NPR reported yesterday on the situation in North America:
In many states, oil and gas companies are required to notify nearby residents before a well is drilled. Colorado is expanding its law. Companies must now contact building owners within a 1,000-foot radius of a planned well. But the new rule does not expand the notification radius for hydraulic fracturing.
Recently, I mentioned the new proposal in Bavaria to require that wind turbines be built at least 10 times further away from the nearest building than the turbines are tall, which would mean a distance of at least 2 km for the latest onshore towers. (The current rules vary from state by state, but as you can see from this overview, most German states generally allow wind turbines to be go up within a kilometer of the nearest built environment.) And then you read that the required distance between an oil well and a home has now been expanded to around 300 m in the US – but only for old-school derricks, not for hydraulic fracturing.
The double standard is astonishing, but the solution is also obvious. Mr. Cameron, your citizens not only need the right to “stop construction of wind turbines near their home,” but also the right to generally decide with their neighbors what goes where. Including their own damn wind turbines. (Craig Morris)