Perspective is a funny thing, isn’t it? In the United States, the debate over hydraulic fracturing has reached a fever pitch as protest groups across the country have sprung up to put an end to the practice of extracting shale from the Earth. Even saying the word “fracking” can get you lynched in Boulder, Colorado. In Japan, though, it’s a different story. Both the government and the population have embraced fracking wholeheartedly, even as the rest of the world seems to be dead set against it. What is it, though, that makes fracking such a venomous topic in the states where it’s perfectly reasonable in Japan?
Let’s start here: Japan needs fracking. At the moment, the tiny island nation is the world’s leading importer of Liquefied Natural Gas. They account for about a third of the global demand for the stuff. Japan has been relatively slow to get into fracking in their own country, though they are hoping to learn about the shale industry over the next several years. At the moment, though, Japan consistently relies on LNG imports to support their growing gas needs. In other words, they’re a great customer to have if you’re in the fracking game.
That need might have helped shape the country’s opinion on fracking, which is remarkably open-minded. Perhaps most telling is the fact that environmentalists in the country are extremely in favor of fracking. Throughout the country, those people charged with overseeing the climate are keen to implement as many fracking projects as possible. These experts find that hydraulic fracturing is the perfect means to bridge the gap between today and tomorrow. The Japanese believe that fracking is the perfect way to keep environmental impact low while eliminating the harmful means of procuring power and building the infrastructure that renewable energy sources will require to be really viable.
Perhaps it is Japan’s slow adoption of fracking that has allowed the country to maintain some clarity in their thinking, or maybe it’s something to do with their need for the product. Either way, it’s remarkable that using the same facts and figures available to the average American has convinced an entire nation that fracking isn’t the evil practice most stateside environmentalists would have you believe.
Like I said, perspective is a funny thing.