Quantcast
Popular
Wolfgang Meinhart

U.S. Fracked Gas Hits the UK

By Andy Rowell

Soon British consumers will be cooking and heating their homes with American fracked gas for the first time.

But there is growing evidence that fracked U.S. gas—and the infrastructure being built to supply it—has a huge ecological, social and personal impact back in the U.S., which British consumers may not know about.


Last Saturday, in an historic milestone, the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the U.S. docked at the Isle of Grain terminal in Kent, which is Europe's largest gas storage terminal.

The ship came from the Sabine Pass export terminal in the Gulf of Mexico. It has been chartered by France's Total looking for a market for gas.

The oil industry will try and sell you fracked gas on the false assumption that this is a secure and safe supply compared to, say, gas from Nigeria or Algeria, which have both had problems in the past.

As the shale boom continues in the U.S., the industry is looking for new markets to send the fracked gas to. And the industry is looking to export. There are currently five export terminals under construction. And Europe is rapidly becoming a destination of choice.

The European gas industry is celebrating the shale arrival, too. "It is great to finally have U.S. shale molecules coming across to the UK grid at such an exciting time for the industry," said Simon Culkin, Grain's terminal manager. "The more sources you can draw on, the better."

But that gas comes at a huge ecological, social and personal cost.

In a great new investigation, the Ferret, an independent award-winning journalistic platform, has published an article on the problems of fracked gas headed to the UK.

The must-read investigation, published Tuesday, focuses on Sunoco Logistics' massive Mariner East 2 pipeline (ME2), which is under construction across southern Pennsylvania's belt, to bring fracked gas to Scotland.

When completed, the multi-billion dollar pipeline will bring up to 70,000 barrels per day of ethane, propane and butane to a storage facility at Sunoco's Marcus Hook Industrial Complex. From there, the ethane will be transported by tanker to Scotland and the vast sprawling petrochemical complex at Grangemouth in Scotland owned by the chemical company Ineos.

While Ineos is leading the UK fracking push, it is also leading the way to import gas from the U.S. Indeed, earlier this year, Ineos received its first cargo of ethane gas from the U.S. for its Grangemouth plant.

The Ferret reports about the anger and resentment brewing against the ME2 pipeline back home. Local campaigners "say their basic rights are being trampled—no small thing in the state where the U.S. Constitution was born—and they are fighting to halt this pipeline and others like it. Or at least, to win the safeguards to which they believe they're entitled."

It is easy to see why people are outraged. Due to arcane laws in the U.S., where companies can seize property via a legal manoeuver called an "eminent domain," locals have had their property seized.

One family, the Gerharts, live near Huntingdon in Pennsylvania. "For 35 years, the Gerharts have lived there amid 27 wooded acres filled with peace, quiet, and wildlife including painted turtles and a protected species of bat," reported the Ferret. "Today, however, three of those forested acres, hosting ponds, streams, and wetlands conserved through the state's forest stewardship program, have been denuded for the Mariner East 2 pipeline right of way."

To make matters worse: "The Gerharts are considered trespassers on their own property," after three acres was condemned after the family refused to sell Sunoco an easement.

The family have been fighting back ever since. They have been arrested and thrown in jail for trying to protect their own property. They are still fighting the company in the courts in an ongoing legal battle. "[That land] is still on our deed, and we still pay taxes on it," Elise Gerhart told the Ferret. "We are being made into criminals for doing things that aren't actually crimes."

Other anti-pipeline protesters who have set up camp are being followed by drones and low flying helicopters.

Elsewhere, residents are up in arms over the fact that the pipeline runs within feet of their homes and they now live in the so-called "blast zone" if anything goes wrong. One local resident, Alison Higgins, a housewife and grandmother, outlined to the Ferret how "I feel my constitutional rights have been trampled on. Our home is our sanctuary, our safe place. Well, I no longer feel safe in my home."

Residents are being supported in their fight against the pipeline company by the Clean Air Council (CAC), a 50-year-old regional environmental group "dedicated to protecting and defending everyone's right to breathe clean air." It has filed two statewide anti-pipeline lawsuits on behalf of local people.

"Sunoco is bullying landowners, it's bullying municipalities," said attorney Alex Bomstein from the CAC. "It's a problem for good governance when you have a company going in and breaking laws everywhere and no one holds them accountable. That has implications for the viability of our democracy."

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Oceans

Acting Sub Lt.niwat Thumma / EyeEm / Getty Images

Plastic Straw Bans Have Unintended Consequences for People with Disabilities

The movement to ban plastic straws has gained major momentum this month, with Seattle's ban going into effect July 1 and companies like Starbucks, Hyatt and American Airlines all agreeing to phase the sucking devices out as well.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Emilie Chen / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Against All Odds, Mountain Gorilla Numbers Are on the Rise

By Jason Bittel

The news coming out of East Africa's Virunga Mountains these days would have made the late (and legendary) conservationist Dian Fossey very happy. According to the most recent census, the mountain gorillas introduced to the world in Gorillas in the Mist, Fossey's book and the film about her work, have grown their ranks from 480 animals in 2010 to 604 as of June 2016. Add another couple hundred apes living in scattered habitats to the south, and their population as a whole totals more than 1,000. Believe it or not, this makes the mountain gorilla subspecies the only great apes known to be increasing in number.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin arrive to attend a joint press conference after a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, on July 16, 2018. YURI KADOBNOV / AFP / Getty Images

'Traitor' Trump 'Colludes' With Putin Over Oil

By Andy Rowell

A "traitor." "Putin's Poodle." "Open Treason." These are just some of the harsh headlines to greet Trump after yesterday's summit in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The papers back home were indignant with rage. The New York Times called Trump Putin's "lackey." The paper said that this was the summit that Putin had dreamed of for eighteen years, and Trump had willingly obliged.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
Hero Images / Getty Images

How to Have Your Healthiest Summer Cookout Ever

By Isabel Walston, EWG Intern

Summer is in full swing, which means many Americans are planning cookouts complete with friends, family and fresh food. Whether you're having a casual kickback or a big bash, Environmental Working Group (EWG) has you covered with tips and tricks to keep your summer cookout fun-filled and healthy.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Doha, Qatar. Pixabay

Will Climate Change Make the Next World Cup Too Hot to Handle?

By Aimee Sison

After four weeks of fanfare, the 2018 World Cup has come to a close. France's victory in Sunday's final marked the end of a summer filled with thrilling victories, surprise defeats, national pride (and disappointment), penalty kick-induced panic and many other emotions associated with soccer.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Fairfax County / CC BY-ND 2.0

Protect Yourself From Disease-Carrying Ticks, Mosquitoes With EWG's 2018 Guide to Bug Repellents

A number of factors should come into play when you're choosing a bug repellent: what part of the country you live in, where you plan to travel, whether you're pregnant and whether you are planning to use the product on children. EWG's 2018 Guide to Bug Repellents can help you find the right product for yourself and your family.

No repellent works every place against every pest, so it is worth researching the diseases insects and ticks carry where you plan to spend time outside. The repellent you might choose for a backpacking trip in Colorado could be different from the one that might suffice for a picnic on an East Coast beach.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Bigbiggerboat / CC BY-SA 4.0

Sea Level Rise Could Sink Internet Infrastructure

Sea level rise may be coming for your Internet.

The first ever study to look at the impact of climate change on the Internet found that more than 4,000 miles of fiber optic cable in U.S. coastal regions will be underwater within 15 years and 1,000 traffic hubs will be surrounded, a University of Wisconsin (UW)—Madison press release reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Business
Adidas shoes made with Parley ocean plastics. Adidas

Adidas Will Use Only Recycled Plastics by 2024

Adidas has long been committed to the fight against single-use plastics. Since 2015, it has partnered with Parley for the Oceans to respond to the plastic pollution crisis threatening marine life. In June, Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted announced the company had sold one million shoes made from plastic collected and recycled from the oceans.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!