British Prime Minister Ends Fracking Ban. Climate Activists Are Irate.
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Environmental groups are “angry” over efforts from British Prime Minister Liz Truss to increase oil and gas production.

As Europe battles soaring energy prices amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Truss began pushing for higher fossil fuel production and established the goal of becoming a net exporter of energy by 2040. The new Conservative Party government headed by Truss also canceled a rise in the corporate tax rate, slashed the basic income tax rate to 19%, and started discussions about special economic zones in multiple regions.

“We will get Britain moving by cementing our status as the best place in the world to do business,” Truss wrote in an opinion piece over the weekend. “We are putting our money where our mouth is in encouraging businesses to invest, create jobs and grow.”

Green activists, however, began raising concerns about the new economic agenda, which entails removing some environmental standards in the investment zones. Joan Edwards, who leads marine conservation efforts for The Wildlife Trusts, claimed in a blog post that “cutting red tape” is no more than an excuse for “polluters” to poison “our rivers and countryside” and argued for strengthening wildlife protections in the investment zones.

“As our landscape is increasingly damaged by climate change — as seen by the wildfires, drought and flooding of this summer — we cannot afford not to protect our wild spaces to our best ability,” she contended. “For the good of future generations, we must reject deregulation and enhance nature protection instead.”

Meanwhile, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds argued on social media that the British government “launched an attack on nature.”

“We are angry and we are mobilising against these proposed plans,” the group said. “Our most vulnerable waterways, wildlife and green spaces across England are facing one of the greatest threats in decades.”

Truss has also announced a new round of oil and gas leases for the North Sea and lifted her nation’s moratorium on shale gas production — including the practice of fracking, by which pressurized liquid is injected into underground rocks to extract fuels. The ban was initially established in 2019 amid concerns over earthquakes.

“We are cutting off the toxic power and pipelines from authoritarian regimes and strengthening our energy resilience,” Truss said during a speech to the United Nations General Assembly. “We will ensure we cannot be coerced or harmed by the reckless actions of rogue actors abroad. We will transition to a future based on renewable and nuclear energy while ensuring that the gas used during that transition is from reliable sources including our own North Sea production.”

Indeed, member states of the European Union — of which Britain is no longer a part — are grappling with energy shortages in the aftermath of Russia ceasing natural gas flow through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen recently called for redistributing profits from fossil fuel producers.

“In our social market economy, profits are good. But in these times it is wrong to receive extraordinary record profits benefitting from war and on the back of consumers,” she said in her most recent state of the union address.

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