Fracking is either a path to secure, cheap energy for the future or a nightmarish abomination that poisons water supplies with methane as well as toxic and possibly radioactive waste. It can also cause earthquakes.
A number of videos at the end of the article set out the two sides of the argument.
Clare County Council has already banned fracking while Leitrim and Fermanagh have been identified as other areas in Ireland where the controversial practice could be done. Locals and environmentalists have expressed concern about the possibility.
In response, the Environmental Protection Agency has commissioned the University of Aberdeen to study fracking. Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte told the Dáil on 7 March that the EPA “is funding preliminary background research into the environmental aspects of shale gas extraction and the regulatory approaches of other countries, with a view to helping to establish best environmental practice.”
I'm waiting for an answer from the EPA as to why the University of Aberdeen was chosen, but here are some interesting facts about the institution.
Among the areas the University's Geology section assists in is “the development of unconventional hydrocarbon resources.”
Its 'research partners' include such names as Shell, Exxon Mobil, BP, Chevron, Statoil, Total, BHP Billiton and Halliburton.
Halliburton is one of the pioneers of fracking in the US, and gave its name to the so-called 'Halliburton loophole' – a 2005 exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act given by the US Congress to fracking developments at the behest of then Vice President, Dick Cheney, former CEO of...Halliburton.
The University of Aberdeen is also a member of the Scottish Oil Club - “The national forum for the presentation and discussion of views on the economic, industrial, technological and political aspects of petroleum and other energy resources.”
Among Talisman's claims to fame is a children's colouring book featuring a character called Talisman Terry “your friendly Fracosaurus”.
“I am here to teach you about a clean energy source called Natural Gas,” Talisman Terry says. You can see some of the pages in this image and watch a report on it below.
This delightful book was eventually withdrawn following a lampooning on the Colbert Report, which also claimed that Talisman was found to have violated Pennsylvania environmental regulations 145 times in 2010.
In light of the facts outlined here it will be interesting to see the results of the University's study. www.twitter.com/colmobroin