Labour MP calls for probe into fracking

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The Independent Online

Tom Greatrex, the shadow Energy Minister, is demanding a full-scale government investigation into the controversial "fracking" technology used to dislodge natural gas trapped in rocks, after a dramatic new report linked the practice to water pollution for the first time.

Mr Greatrex will table a series of questions in parliament today urging the Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne, to step up the Government's probe of hydraulic fracturing after reading the report, by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In his first question, Mr Greatrex will ask: "Further to the article in The Independent on 14 December 2011, what assessment has he made of the report by the United States Environmental Protection Agency into the impact of hydraulic fracturing on water pollution; and if he will make a statement?"

The Labour MP will then ask: "What assessment he has made of the link between hydraulic fracturing and water pollution?"; "what plans he has to investigate the links between hydraulic fracturing and water pollution?" and "when he last met with the UK Environment Agency to discuss the link between hydraulic fracturing and water pollution?".

Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London, also called for the Government to step up its investigation.

"If the UK Government has any intention in following through on its pledge to be the 'greenest government ever', it will take serious consideration of the EPA's evidence and take steps to introduce, at least, a moratorium on new shale gas exploration without delay," Ms Lambert said.

The EPA report comes at a crucial time for the Government as it considers whether to allow fracking – a technique in which sand, chemicals and water are blasted into shale rock to release the gas – to become commonplace in the UK.