Shale gas is a “transition” fuel. It is the cleanest hydrocarbon fuel but will not last economically for ever. (The output of a well declines from the day it is opened.) What shale will do is buy us time to design and build truly renewable sources of energy (which generally we have) and which are also truly sustainable (which generally we do not have but we are getting better at).
Environmentally, what is defensible about fracking somewhere else and shipping the compressed gas half way round the world in specially designed and built ships, when we could do our own and pump it straight into the gas grid and use it for heating homes and driving cars?
There is one other thing. The last government admitted 5 years ago that the national debt was £1.3 trillion. This government admits that the debt is now £1.5 trillion and hopes to balance the books by 2020. (“Hopes” – governments are not renowned for delivering on promises.) If and when the books are balanced, we might then start paying off the debt – but not before of course. By then it will be around £2 trillion. That does not count all the PFI contracts with public services, Nor personal credit card nationally. The total? Probably over £4 trillion. About the only thing big enough to dent that is shale. Shale from UK sources.
Some years ago, when I was a lecturer in higher education, I took some post grad engineering student to a farm where the boss was very work study minded. High on a long barn wall, in letters a couple of meters high, he wrote;
STOP THINK DO IT NOW
Bill Butterworth 1st November 2015
Next weekend; Shale gas and earthquakes