Church of England wades into fracking debate
The Anglican Diocese of Blackburn has released a pamphlet warning their Lancaster flock of the potential dangers of hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking.
“The time we spend thinking, praying and acting now to protect our drinking water and the rest of God’s glorious Creation cannot compare with the time succeeding generations could potentially spend trying to make good what will likely happen if we in the church remain uninformed and silent,” reads the pamphlet.
Fracking, the process of drilling and injecting high pressure fluid into the ground to fracture shale rocks and release their natural gases, is certainly contentious to the environmentally conscious, risking contaminating water reserves and releasing methane into the earth’s atmosphere.
The pamphlet goes as far as to claim that fracking is “a choice between economic gain and a healthy environment” and that we must be wary of the long-term consequences before being seduced by the “temptation” of a “gas drilling bonanza”.
However, despite the somewhat partisan tone, a spokesman for the Blackburn Diocese is adamant that this is not propaganda bent on persuading parishioners away from the technology, but they are rather meeting their “obligation, under God, to bring a different perspective into the debate”.
Reverend Chris Halliwell added that this obligation “stems from a sincere conviction to take seriously the challenges of caring for God’s fragile creation”. The Anglican’s role of steward to the earth has also been cited by Dr Jeff Golliher, programme director for the environment and sustainable communities at the Anglican Communion office at the UN.
In an open letter published in May, Golliher advised communion members to think very seriously of the dire environmental consequences fracking can bring, and discuss any reservations with their bishop.
This cautious stance places the Church in opposition to the UK government as David Cameron is keen to make the case for fracking, pointing to the estimated 70,000 jobs it could bring to the UK.
The Diocese and MP of Blackburn are also at odds as Jack Straw calls for the local populace to see past the potential harm fracking could bring, instead insisting “shale gas could underpin a revival in Lancashire’s economic fortunes”.