EP: Fierce backstage battle on the two shale gas reports

In the last year, the development of shale gas extraction activities has become a topical issue in Europe and has given rise to many debates across EU Member States.

This week the European Parliament����s Industry Committee and Environment Committee will vote on reports on the ����industrial, energy and other aspects of shale gas and oil���� (on 18 September) and on the ����environmental impacts of shale gas and shale oil extraction activities���� (19 September) respectively. The backstage battle around these two reports is fierce.


The Greens/ EFA group has particular concerns regarding the report on the potential for unconventional gas in Europe that will be voted on in the Industry committee next Tuesday. They have warned that shale gas in Europe will not, as is frequently suggested, function as a ����bridge fuel���� to a greener economy, but only slow down the urgent transition to renewables. They therefore oppose allocating financial support, as proposed in the ITRE report, to the development of this energy source. In addition - in order not to reproduce the serious mistakes made in the US where large-scale unconventional gas operations have caused serious damage - they ask that fracking be forbidden in areas where drinking water is collected, that fracking fluids be considered as hazardous waste and call for mandatory environmental impact assessments and strict compliance with the REACH directive.


The report in the environment committee contains more positive elements. The Greens/EFA group particularly welcomes the fact that it calls for a deeper analysis of the EU regulatory framework regarding specifically unconventional fossil fuels exploration and exploitation, that it calls on the Commission to propose appropriate measures and an adaptation of the relevant existing EU legislation if necessary, and that it asks for a more in-depth impact analysis into the effects of this unconventional fossil fuel.

However - although the Greens/EFA group wants the EU to ensure that the highest environmental standards be applied to fracking operations where EU Member State do decide to extract shale gas - they continue to warn about the negative impacts this energy source has on the climate, the environment and public health. Among the three recent Commission studies on shale gas, one report in particular acknowledges that shale gas drilling poses a ����high risk���� to human health and the environment, a risk that is worse than the risks associated with extraction of other fossil fuels����Do we really want to risk our health and our environment just to prolong an unsustainable dependence on yet another ���� even dirtier ���� fossil fuel?