A January proposal on energy from the European Union has already received pushback from British Prime Minister David Cameron. The PM, a proponent of shale gas exploration in the UK, has written the EU’s executive body warning against too much fracking regulation. Cameron says that kind of legislation could prevent the country’s shale industry, still in its infancy, from reaching its potential as a means of British energy security.
There is currently no hard information how the January proposal will affect shale exploration. Depite the uncertainty, Cameron took the initiative with a written letter addressed to European Commission President Jose Manual Barroso, urging a hands-off legislative approach concerning shale exploration.
“As you know, the shale industry is at a critical and early stage of its development in Europe,” Cameron said in the letter. “There is clearly merit in providing additional clarity on how the existing comprehensive EU legislative framework applies to shale gas.”
Cameron cited the potential of delayed or discontinued investment in shale exploration if the potential regulation is seen as too restrictive. He cited potential jobs and revenue lost by delays or lack of industry support.
Although the European Commission acknowledged receipt of the letter, no further comment on its contents was released.
Cameron and UK Chancellor George Osborne have proposed tax breaks and revenue sharing options for companies considering entering UK shale exploration. The Prime Minister, up for re-election in 2015, says shale exploration could lower household energy bills in the UK. That claim is not currently supported by industry data.
The UK recently confirmed shale reserves under parts of Yorkshire and Lancashire, although how much is recoverable is still uncertain. The extraction practice of hydraulic fracturing still suffers from controversy, as proponents and opponents continue to debate the risks and benefits of the practice.
Cameron has consistently pushed for a reduction in EU regulations. He has argued the regulations impair European economic growth.