Watterson A & Dinan W (2018) Public health and unconventional oil and gas extraction including fracking: Global lessons from a Scottish government review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15 (4), Art. No.: 675. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15040675
Unconventional oil and gas extraction (UOGE) including fracking for shale gas is underway in North America on a large scale, and in Australia and some other countries. It is viewed as a major source of global energy needs by proponents. Critics consider fracking and UOGE an immediate and long-term threat to global, national, and regional public health and climate. Rarely have governments brought together relatively detailed assessments of direct and indirect public health risks associated with fracking and weighed these against potential benefits to inform a national debate on whether to pursue this energy route. The Scottish government has now done so in a wide-ranging consultation underpinned by a variety of reports on unconventional gas extraction including fracking. This paper analyses the Scottish government approach from inception to conclusion, and from procedures to outcomes. The reports commissioned by the Scottish government include a comprehensive review dedicated specifically to public health as well as reports on climate change, economic impacts, transport, geology, and decommissioning. All these reports are relevant to public health, and taken together offer a comprehensive review of existing evidence. The approach is unique globally when compared with UOGE assessments conducted in the USA, Australia, Canada, and England. The review process builds a useful evidence base although it is not without flaws. The process approach, if not the content, offers a framework that may have merits globally.
unconventional oil gas extraction; fracking; public health policy; global
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health: Volume 15, Issue 4