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'You Can't Buy Health': Energy​ Company Accused of Offering 'Blood Money' to Frack Near Homes

Fracking
'You Can't Buy Health': Energy​ Company Accused of Offering 'Blood Money' to Frack Near Homes
Drone photograph of the Cuadrilla site at Preston New Road, taken Feb. 25. Residents Action on Fylde Fracking

Cuadrilla Resources—a UK-based energy company set to horizontally frack Britain for the first time after two earthquakes halted its initial drilling attempt in 2011—is giving cash payments to residents living near its shale gas exploration site at Preston New Road in Lancashire.

Cuadrilla said that households within one kilometer of the site will each receive approximately £2,070 ($2,700) and those within one to 1.5 kilometers will receive approximately £150 ($197) as part of its £100,000 community benefit payment for the well it is drilling.


"Our shale gas exploration work continues to progress in Lancashire, helping to strengthen the county's economy with over £4.7m ($6.2 million) invested in the county since operations began, and now nearly 300 households will directly benefit from our community payments," the company said in a statement.

But John Tootill, who owns nearby Maple Farm Nursery and has petitioned against fracking, told the Guardian he is refusing Cuadrilla's "blood money."

"It is absolutely the most appalling thing. How can you give money to compensate for affecting people's health and spoiling their environment?" he said.

"What we want is our health. It's just blood money really, because no amount of money can compensate for somebody's health being affected. You can't buy health. Most certainly I wouldn't take it."

Fracking is a contentious topic in the UK, with Scotland recently banning the controversial drilling process. England, however, has been very different. Its Conservative-led government has advocated for exploration and drilling licenses despite staunch public opposition.

The Preston New Road site itself has been at the center of high profile, anti-fracking protests. Controversially, Cuadrilla was allowed to initiate drilling after the UK government overruled Lancashire County Council's rejection of two applications from Cuadrilla to frack in Lancashire.

Cuadrilla expects to begin fracking at the Preston New Road at the end of December or early next year, Reuters reported.

Third Energy, another UK-based gas exploration company, also expects to start fracking before the end of the year at its Kirby Misperton site in Yorkshire once it is green-lit by the government.

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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