Release March 16th 2021:
Commission breaching EU
Precautionary Principle in light-touch regulation proposal in EU
Strategy by turning a blind eye to adverse health, environmental and
impacts of fracked gas methane super emitters.
the German offer in August 2020 to
give 2 LNG terminals in Germany €1 billion as an
inducement to the Americans to remove the sanctions on the Nordstream2
pipeline, there is now growing concern that the European Commission, in
its Methane Strategy
published last October, is breaching the EU Precautionary Principle by
trade in fracked gas ahead of climate and public health considerations
refusing to make a distinction between fracked and non-fracked gas
the European Energy Mix.
European Commission plans outlined
in the Methane Strategy are targeting baby-steps, voluntary action from
fracking producers such as in the US before publishing legislation later
this year to reduce methane emissions in the oil, gas and coal sectors.
proposed legislation is light-touch because it makes no reference to
unavoidable emissions that are particular to fracking.
methane reduction legislation being proposed is
focusing on "improving information" via compulsory
measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) and on "mitigation"
to improve leak detection and repair (LDAR) using "best
as outlined in the October 2020EU Methane Strategy. "Best Practice",
in layman's terms,
means "business as usual". It
does not stand up to scientific scrutiny to assume, with
light-touch regulation, that the enormous levels of
accidental leakage from the fracking industry can be mitigated against
by asking the fracking industry to measure and repair its own methane
scientific evidenceof serious health and
environmental harm from fracking
already irrefutably exists and no acceptable mitigation of fracking has
implemented anywhere in the world.
the October 2020 EU Methane
Strategy not only promotes MRV and LDAR but
Commission will examine
options as regards possible methane emission reduction targets or
other incentives on fossil energy consumed and imported in the EU".
proposed that the legislative act
should therefore account for full lifecycle emissions including
emissions, include a ban on fracking within the EU and a ban
importation of fracked gas on climate mitigation grounds (due to its
un-mitigatable methane leakage) and on public health grounds.
methane mitigation action would conform with the ‘do
principle as set out in theEU Green Deal of
December 11th, 2019.
December 15th 2020 the European
Commission adopted a proposal to revise
the EU rules on Trans-European Networks for Energy (the TEN-E
achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal and end support for
natural gas infrastructure. However, this new proposal will not ban new
gas infrastructure, only no longer give it financial support. The
must go further.
encourage the Commission to follow
the example of Ireland.
Ireland implemented alegislative ban
on fracking on public health and environmental grounds
In June 2020 Ireland
became the first country in the world to have announced a policy
importation of fracked gas in itsProgramme for Government when it stated
Ireland moves towards carbon neutrality, we do not believe that it
to develop LNG gas import terminals importing fracked gas, accordingly
withdraw the Shannon LNG terminal from the EU Projects of Common
list in 2021. We do not support the importation of
fracked gas and shall
develop a policy statement to establish that approach".
November 9th 2020, the Irish High Court quashed all
consents for the proposed Shannon
LNG fracked gas import terminal
leading to a situation where no LNG infrastructure consents
now exist in Ireland. This was in spite of the fact that the Shannon
Fracked gas import terminal project had been added to the 4th PCI List
Energy with no sustainability assessment - a fact noted by theEU Ombudsman
in its report on November 17th 2020. Incidentally, the
legality of the addition of the Shannon LNG Fracked gas import terminal
4th PCI List without any sustainability assessment of the climate
its methane leakage is still being challenged in the Irish High
the next hearing of the High Court on the matter due on March 26th,
was submitted in November 2020 by researchers at the
highly-respected Human Rights Law Clinic at the Irish Centre for Human
of NUI Galway to the Joint Committee on Climate Action tasked with
pre-legislative scrutiny of Ireland's new Climate Bill. It confirmed
world's first fracked gas import ban in the Climate Bill
compatible with legal EU, European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and
Trade Organization (WTO) trade rules.
is now clear that intense US pressure to find
new overseas markets for its Methane from fracking - such as in The
between the US and Europe inJuly 2018
which agreed an Energy Plan for Europe to build more
terminals to import LNG from the US on a massive scale - is
sustainable because the US and the Commission are putting Trade before
fear that both Ireland and Northern Ireland officials are
hoping the legislation
proposed in the EU Methane Strategy may be enough of a hook to assert
fracking emissions can be mitigated enough to allow trade continue as
Ireland’s Department for the Economy already
controversiallypublished its opinion
that it is “by no means the case” that there are “actual”
environmental and health impacts from fracking in Northern Ireland and
fracking can be mitigated “to an acceptable level” on December 21st 2018, without
clarifying for whom the level
of fracking is acceptable.
officials, speaking on the programme for government to DG Energy in
2021, never mentioned the new Irish policy in the Programme for
against Fracked Gas Imports and even though the Programme for
Government also stated that the Government would "support the tightening of the
sustainability assessment rules prior to the approval of any projects
on the EU PCI list."
seems that the unwritten rule is to not mention
the war against fracked gas in the hope that ‘out of sight is out of
is clear that the temptation to take an as-low-as-reasonably-possible
approach to climate mitigation at a policy level instead of a
is also breaching the EU Precautionary Principle as obliged
under Article 191 TFEU
and as further explained in an EU Communicationin
The Precautionary Principle aims at ensuring a higher level of
protection through preventative decision-taking in the case of risk.
Safety Before LNG