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UK parliament group calls for shale gas fracking moratorium

[LONDON] A group of British lawmakers has called for a moratorium on shale gas fracking, saying developing the unconventional gas resources was incompatible with targets to fight climate change.

The British government is counting on getting shale gas out of the ground to help stem a decline in the country's North Sea energy resources and reduce its dependence on gas imports.

In a report accompanying an amendment to a proposed law to be discussed in parliament on Monday, members of the Environmental Audit Committee said they want to see a moratorium on all shale fracking. "A moratorium on the extraction of unconventional gas through fracking is needed to avoid both the inconsistency with our climate change obligations and to allow the uncertainty surrounding environmental risks to be fully resolved," the members of parliament (MPs) said in the report.

Britain is legally bound to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050 and cutting reliance on fossil fuels in the energy mix is an essential part of this goal.

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Environmental Committee MPs, including the Conservative Party's former environment minister Caroline Spelman and the Green Party's ex-leader Caroline Lucas, said Britain could not get enough shale gas out of the ground to make its development commercially viable.

The lawmakers also expressed concern about environmental risks linked to fracking, such as chemical leaks into groundwater resources and disposal of waste water produced in the process.

They added that if a country-wide moratorium was not imposed, fracking should at least be banned from national parks and other areas of environmental importance.

Britain imposed a moratorium on fracking in 2012 after a series of earth tremors were measured near a shale gas drilling site in northwest England.

A number of independent reports subsequently judged shale gas fracking to be safe and the government lifted the ban but imposed stricter monitoring guidelines.