Barrister John Kenny on how Shannon LNG is a breach of Human Rights Dublin 19 December 2019
is the US putting so much pressure on the EU to import US fracked gas?
latest peer-reviewed scientific studies have found that one third of the total
increased methane emissions from all sources globally, over the past decade, is
coming from US fracked gas (shale gas).
"Dig a well, Bring a soldier home" was
a slogan in the USA several years ago when America was a net importer of gas.
Now, with fracking (and over 1.7 million wells later and counting), the U.S. has become
a net exporter of fracked gas. The rush is on to find a new overseas market for
U.S. methane before the fracking bubble bursts in the USA.
was followed on with a bill passed in U.S. House of Representatives on March 25th, 2019 (the "European Energy Security and Diversification Act of 2019") that, if it becomes law,would allocate hundreds of millions of US dollars in federal funding over
two years to public and private energy development projects in Europe and
Eurasia, including LNG terminals, with the potential to use US gas - gas it now
markets as "Freedom Gas".
message from the NordStream2 sanctions is now clear for all to see that
importing US fracked gas has nothing to do about bringing "freedom"
gas to Europe. Rather, it is about locking Europe into buying US fracked gas
for decades to come, with no consideration of the Climate impacts given that
the US has signalled its intention to withdraw from the Paris Accord.
The US is now using all its political, economic and diplomatic power to force
Europe to buy its filthy fracked gas.
focus of climate change mitigation actions (as opposed to Climate Adaptation) is
to reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions which are driving climate change.
Climate Mitigation grounds, European Fracked gas LNG import infrastructure cannot
reasonably be expanded at Shannon, Cork and elsewhere throughout Europe because
scientific evidence has found that purposeful and leaked/fugitive methane
emissions from fracked gas is accelerating global warming with fracked gas
imports having a carbon equivalent footprint 44% greater than coal over the
full life cycle.
the case for carbon dioxide, the Climate System responds quickly to a reduction in
methane emissions and could provide the opportunity to immediately slow the
rate of global warming by around half a degree celsius
US fracked gas into countries which have banned fracking, like Ireland, amounts
to "carbon leakage" because Europe does not count non-territorial
emissions in its carbon budgets. On July 16th, 2019, in a major policy
turnaround, EU Commission President-elect Ursula Von der Leyen announced that
she would "introduce a carbon border
tax to avoid carbon leakage". Discussion of the non-territorial emissions
from the importation of US fracked gas into Europe, the carbon leakage issue of
the next decade, is currently being met with a total silence and a reckless refusal
to engage by theEuropean Commission,
but such refusal is more and more incompatible with a declared intention by
President Von der Leyen to fight runaway global warming. Any new fossil gas
infrastructure will amount to a fossil fuel lock in as the infrastructure would
be there for the next 50 years at least and any rational person would have to
accept that we are now at a crossroads where there must be a transparent evidence-based
decision made on preventing fossil gas in the Irish and European Energy mix.
When politicians and the
fossil fuel lobby speak about gas as a transitional fuel they obfuscate the
impacts of purposeful and leaked/fugitive Methane emissions from fracking on
the climate by making no distinction between unconventional/fracked/shale gas
and conventional drilled gas. This is neither reasonable nor rational
especially when reducing methane emissions into the atmosphere may reverse the
rate of global warming.
Are there other
impacts other than climate impacts?
Yes, Ireland passed the 'Prohibition of
Onshore Hydraulic Fracturing Act 2017', banning fracking in Ireland in
recognition of the health and climate impacts of exploiting shale gas reserves;
fracking poisons people (health) and creates environmental pollution. The
process of fracking is harmful at source in the USA too, and it is hypocritical
that we would recognise the harm in Ireland by banning fracking, but then
create demand for it abroad by importing it.
that the proposed Shannon LNG project by 'New Fortress Energy" is for the
Importation of Fracked US gas
LNG is being proposed as an LNG Import Terminal by its owners, New
Fortress Energy, to receive fracked gas from the one of the world's
largest natural gas fields, the Marcellus Shale Formation in
Pennsylvania, U.S.A. However, comments by politicians and some
individuals from public organisations that the sources of gas for the
proposed Shannon LNG terminal have not been specified yet are
attempting to cast doubt over this fact. We calculate that almost
100% of the Gas in Pennsylvania is fracked gas since so-called
conventional wells are also being drilled in shale and also need to be
fracked. However, even if we take the more conservative approach of
only unconventional wells being fracked, then it is still proven from
official US figures that up to 97.85% of gas in Pennsylvania is fracked
gas. This paper puts forward the evidence that Shannon LNG is a US fracked gas import project. This information comes from the following sources:
From the Company itself and it’s company filings to the US Securities
and Exchange Commission (SEC) on November 9th, 2018 where
- New Fortress Energy tells the SEC that " Certain of our suppliers employ hydraulic fracturing techniques"
New Fortress Energy tells the SEC "Increased regulation or difficulty
in permitting of hydraulic fracturing, and any corresponding increase
in domestic natural gas prices, could materially adversely affect
demand for LNG and our ability to develop commercially viable LNG
- New Fortress Energy admits to the SEC that
it "seeks to use “stranded” natural gas to satisfy the world’s
large and growing power needs”[…] “We are currently developing two
liquefiers in the Marcellus area of Pennsylvania, each of which is
expected to have the capacity to produce approximately 3 to 4 million
gallons of LNG"
- New Fortress Energy tells the SEC " Shannon,
Ireland – We have entered into an agreement to purchase all of the
ownership interests in a project company that owns the rights to
develop and operate an LNG terminal and a CHP plant on the Shannon
Estuary near Ballylongford, Ireland [...] We intend to supply all
existing and future customers with LNG produced primarily at our own
Liquefaction Facilities. We have one operational liquefaction facility
in Miami, are currently are currently developing our Pennsylvania
Facilities and plan to develop five to ten additional liquefaction
facilities over the next five years"
From the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
98.23% of Gas produced in Pennsylvania in 2018 was fracked gas
From the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) at least 97.85% of
Gas produced in Pennsylvania in 2018 was fracked gas
From the Methane Life Cycle Scientist Professor Robert Howarth, Cornell
University who informed the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate
Action on October 9th 2019 that “If Ireland were to import liquefied
natural gas from the United States, it would largely be shale gas"
From Richard Bruton, T.D., the Minister for Communications, Climate
Action and Environment himself who admitted on RTE Radio on May 10th
2019 that the gas coming from the US would be fracked gas
6. From Business and Investment Media Reports on the Issue
7. From Industry Analysis on the Issue
From U.S. President Donald Trump on 23rd October 2019 who stated at the
9th Annual Shale Insight Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania " they
won’t do any fracking in New York [...] They don’t do it in New
York. Somebody, someday, will explain why. They do it in
Pennsylvania. They do it in Ohio."
EU Commission accused of breaking Climate laws on
very day President announces European Green Deal
appeal was lodged following the shock written admission 5 days earlier by the Director General
of DG Energy herself - Mrs Ditte Juul-Jorgensen – that the Commission breached the EU PCI
Regulation by not evaluating climate impacts when assessing all the proposed
gas PCI projects. This list includes the controversial Shannon LNG project
being proposed for the large-scale importation of US fracked gas into
Europe. The Trans-Atlantic group of NGOs’ appeal raised the accusation
that Trade Considerations for the importation of US fracked gas, as agreed by
Presidents Trump and Juncker in July 2018, are dominating over Climate in the
European Commission institutional mindset, forcing European Commission staff to
illegally turn a blind eye to the disastrous Climate impacts of filthy fracked
gas imports and blatantly commit discriminatory breaches of EU Regulations in
potential overall benefits of each proposed project of common interest must
outweigh its costs and the criteria to make this assessment must include the
Sustainability Criteria, which means reducing Emissions and Climate Impacts.
The Director General claimed that the breach
of EU Regulations will be fixed for future
PCI lists but did not offer to do any climate impact assessment of the
currently proposed PCI list it approved, and which is currently before the
European Parliament, rendering the entire PCI list legally unsafe due to a
serious discriminatory breach of the PCI Regulation by DG Energy.
The Climate activists were
reacting to the latest peer-reviewed research which notes
that Methane is a greenhouse gas 100 times more powerful than carbon-dioxide
and that shale gas
development in North America is the single largest driver of this increase in
methane, accounting for one-third of the increase in global emissions from all
The appeal comes on the very day that President
Ursula Von der Leyen announced the adoption of the European
Green Deal. How the Commission deals with the carbon leakage and
non-territorial emissions of US fracked gas imports into Europe on a massive
scale which leave a carbon footprint 44% greater than that of coal will quickly
reveal whether the European Green Deal is to signal real actions or just
such Energy Plan which will set the framework for any development consent in
Ireland should include aStrategic
Environmental Assessment to assess reasonable alternatives.
European Parliament has the power to refuse to approve the 4th PCI list as
proposed by the European Commission when it votes on the matter before the end
of February 2020. This vote must assess the fact the European Commission
illegally refused to assess the climate impacts of the gas projects on the
list. The Commission asserting that it will do the climate impacts of future
lists while hoping we turn a blind eye to the Commission breaks the law for the
current list is unacceptable to the advantage of U.S. fracked gas import
terminals. This is all the more important given the sanctions announced by the
U.S. against Russian gas imports via the NordStream2 pipeline to Germany.
need a vote in the Irish Parliament on the motion put forward by 44 Irish
parliamentarians on the calling on the Government: − to remove any project from the proposed
list of Projects of Common Interest that could support the building of an LNG
facility in Ireland that will act as a gateway for fracked gas entering the
Irish energy mix; and − to build support in Europe to prioritise sustainability
criteria in the assessment of candidate PCI projects, that will address fossil
fuel lock in and the long-term impacts of fracked gas in the European energy
mix, given the expected change in climatic conditions.
5. We need a new law to ban the importation of
Fracked gas as proposed by the Youth Assembly, which may need the banning of
the construction of LNG terminals because these terminals are the means to
avoid Ireland becoming an overseas market for methane from US fracked gas.