If Boris Johnson wants to avoid a worsening energy crisis that could threaten his premiership sooner rather than later, if he wants to bring down the price of natural gas, if he wants to level up by creating a new and high-wage industry in the North of England, if he wants to energise Britain and improve energy security, he should abandon his foolish ban on shale gas extraction and kick-start the much delayed shale revolution in the UK.
As Britain faces a gas price shock and geo-political energy blackmail, it is worth reflecting that over the years Boris wrote a fair bit on fracking – the overly harsh sounding term for extracting shale gas – in a characteristically positive and boosterish way. Fracking is what made America a net energy exporter, allowing it to meet carbon emission targets and achieve energy security from the Middle East. Americans hail fracking as an energy revolution. A decade ago, Boris too was describing the potential of fracking as “glorious news”:
“It [fracking] is glorious news for humanity. It doesn’t need the subsidy of wind power. I don’t know whether it will work in Britain, but we should get fracking right away.”
9 December 2012, Telegraph
A year later, he was calling on the Cameron government to “stop pussy-footing around”:
“we must stop pussy-footing around, and get fracking. Even if we have hundreds of fracking pads, they are nothing like as ugly as windmills, and they can be dismantled as soon as the gas is extracted.”
15 September 2013, Sun
The next year, he was arguing that giving the British people their mineral rights would incentivise landowners to get fracking:
“Give the British people their mineral rights, and get fracking at last. No landowner, large or small, has any automatic commercial interest in the discovery of shale gas beneath their property. No wonder the shires are in revolt against fracking.
“It is no surprise that everyone is a Nimby – or in this case, Numby – when they are told that what is under their back yard is not theirs, but belongs to the Queen!”
30 June 2014, Telegraph
By the next month the then-Mayor of London was advocating fracking for London:
“If reserves of shale can be exploited in London we should leave no stone unturned, or unfracked, in the cause of keeping the lights on”.
Boris is now in a position to do something glorious, to stop pussy-footing around and leave no stone unturned or unfracked. So get on with it…