Joint Committee final report: A step closer to ban fracking – back doors to frack Ireland are still open

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Joint Committee final report:–FINAL.pdf

Schermafdruk 2017-04-29 14.06.21 geknipt

Irish Times – Ban on fracking should not be lifted says Oireachtas report

Fine Gael TD Hildegarde Naughton chair of committee on communications, climate action and the environment. Photograph: Dave Meehan

The ban on hydraulic fracturing of gas and oil should not be lifted due to the risks associated with the practice, a parliamentary report has concluded.

The Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action and the Environment published its report into whether the technique, commonly known as fracking, should be allowed in Ireland.

Fracking involves water being pumped at high pressure into rocks to split them and release gas and oil deposits. A large fracking industry has grown up in North America in recent years but has been condemned by environmentalists for the harm it causes to land, waterways, the climate and human health.

In recent years, the Clare Basin in the midwest and the areas around the border between counties Leitrim and Fermanagh have been identified as suitable for fracking.

The joint committee, chaired by Fine Gael TD Hildegarde Naughton, has been scrutinising the issue for several months, following an earlier study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency. In its report, it raises concerns about surface chemical spills and leaks, of groundwater being contaminated, accidental spills and the consequent risks to human health, and of damaging the environment. Because some other possible risks have not been quantified or scrutinised, the committee has also stated it would be irresponsible to proceed with any project.

Ms Naughton said: “The committee accepts while there may be economic advantages and enhanced energy security for Ireland in allowing unconventional oil and gas exploration, the committee is of the view that these benefits are outweighed by the risks to the environment and human health from an as yet relatively untried technology.

“The committee also feels that further investment in exploitation of fossil fuels would in all likelihood reduce investment in sustainable sources of energy, mindful of Ireland’s commitments in relation to climate-change mitigation.”

Environmental campaign groups Friends of the Earth and Love Leitrim welcomed the findings.

Kate Ruddock, deputy director at Friends of the Earth, said: “We welcome the committee’s recognition that fracking could have a harmful effect on the environment and humans and that any investment in fossil fuels would reduce investment in sustainable sources of energy.”

She pointed out that of the 8,000 submissions received by the committee in relation to this Bill, only one was in favour of fracking.


Irish fracking ban recommendation welcomed by NGOs –

Environmental organisations have welcomed the Oireachtas’ Environmental Committee’s recommendation to ban fracking in the Republic of Ireland.

The Environmental Pillar lauded the decision to support a prohibition on fracking in a report compiled by the Joint Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment this week.

The Environmental Pillar – a coalition of 26 Irish environmental NGOs – praised the decision as “the right thing to do to protect our water quality, natural environment and the health and well-being of communities across Ireland”.

The organisation stated that the report will add to the increasing amount of peer-reviewed evidence from around the world – highlighting the “detrimental impacts and risks brought with fracking and unconventional fossil fuel extraction”.

The coalition said that the decision shows Ireland’s commitment to the advancement of a sustainable low-carbon system and the efforts to minimise climate change. Following on from what it described as a momentous decision, the coalition sought for the report to be put before the Dáil and passed to law as soon as possible.

Aedin McLoughlin, spokesperson for the Environmental Pillar, said: “The decision not to pursue fracking in Ireland is needed to protect communities from the damaging impacts of fracking, such as the contamination of water, and to meet our climate change commitments”.

Exploiting unconventional fossil fuels such as shale gas will only increase the world’s dependency on fossil fuels and consequently slow down the large-scale deployment of clean energy renewables and energy savings.

What Is Fracking?

Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, is the procedure of drilling deep into ground containing oil or gas, then directing highly-pressurized water (mixed with ‘proppants’ such as particles of sand and other additives) into the rock to force open fissures or cracks to release the gas or oil inside.

This process is carried out on shale rock and other similar rock formations, first drilling vertically about 1.6km or more beneath the surface before turning horizontal for the rest of the drilling. It can either use existing openings in the rock or form new ones.

The cracks forced open by the pressurized water mixture are held open by additives in the mixture.

Fracking is used to extract oil or gas in what would be hard-to-reach locations for more traditional methods of extraction. This gives oil companies scope to access vast reserves of fossil fuels that previously would have been unrecoverable.

As a result, this has driven down the price of oil in recent years, particularly in the US, where the economic effects have been profound.

However, environmental impacts are considerable, with water and ground contamination – as well as air and noise pollution – seen as major concerns.

In addition, there are worries in some quarters that fracking can trigger small earthquakes and tremors, destabilizing the earth’s surface in places, as was suspected to be the case in the 2011 earth tremors in Lancashire, UK, according to a study into the matter by the energy company Cuadrilla.

Also Read: Ireland ‘unlikely’ to meet 2020 EU greenhouse gas emission targets

There have also been suspicions of potential safety issues. According to BBC reports on fracking, environmentalists are concerned that potentially carcinogenic chemicals used in fracking could escape shale rocks and contaminate groundwater around fracking sites.