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Factcheck: is Jacob Rees-Mogg right that fracking is safe and vital?

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theguardian.com

In angry exchanges in the House of Commons, the new business secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg, on Thursday made four controversial claims about fracking.

But do they stand up?Despite the unequivocal declaration of the business secretary, the jury is still out on the safety or otherwise of fracking.

The British Geological Survey, commissioned by the government, says forecasting the occurrence of large earthquakes from fracking and their expected magnitude is complex and remains a scientific challenge.Equally difficult is weighing up and mitigating risks from fracking induced quakes, or predicting the occurrence of larger tremors during drilling operations.

BGS says rates of fracking-induced earthquakes in other countries, where shale gas production has been going on for many years, vary considerably.Fracking also risks contaminating groundwater, according to the BGS, which says: “Groundwater may be potentially contaminated by extraction of shale gas both from the constituents of shale gas itself, from the formulation and deep injection of water containing a cocktail of additives used for hydraulic fracturing and from flowback water which may have a high content of saline formation water.”A 2016 study by the US Environmental Protection Agency found evidence that fracking can affect drinking water resources under many different circumstances, particularly where there are low groundwater levels.This week Lord Deben, chair of the Climate Change Committee, warned ministers to look at the facts. “The facts are that you have to deal with fracking in an environmentally sensible way or otherwise you have serious results.”Rees-Mogg is correct in one sense; the Richter scale is logarithmic, which means a one unit increase in magnitude

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