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Exposing the truth about the New Fortress Energy 'Shannon LNG' project
Negative Effects on the Shannon Estuary
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For Immediate Release
Press Release March 20th 2021: 

Shock in Kerry as Shannon LNG owners New Fortress Energy announces  that it is to lodge a new planning application for a US fracked gas import terminal in Ireland.
- Government needs to react quickly with a climate bill that closes off fracked gas imports once and for all - 14 years of a battle is long enough.
- We now need the Green Party to make a Statement of Intent on the matter confirming that it will engage constructively on the Climate Bill Fracking import ban.

We now have a nail-biting race against the clock with a short window of opportunity to ban fracked gas imports after predatorial New Fortress Energy dramatically informed investors on an earnings call the day before Saint Patrick's Day that Shannon LNG intends to file a new planning application for a US fracked gas import terminal on the Shannon Estuary in Ireland, with a final investment decision (FID) due in July/August. In November the High Court quashed development consent for Shannon LNG to construct a fracked gas import terminal on the Shannon Estuary.  There is now no choice but to take advantage of this ideal short window of opportunity before any new application is submitted and assessed to establish a legislative prohibition on importing fracked gas into Ireland, once and for all.

In a meeting on Tuesday March 16th, Eamon Ryan’s political advisor Paul Kenny created shock waves when he told attendees from ‘Love Leitrim’, ‘Safety Before LNG’ and the NUIG Human Rights Clinic that a ban was not being included in the bill being re-drafted by his department due to vague legal concerns which he would not elaborate on to any great extent and concerns that the bill not be delayed.
 
We now need a political statement of intent from Eamon Ryan’s Green party that it will engage constructively with all the members in the Dail to find a way to ban the importation of fracked gas in the Climate Bill due to the short window of opportunity from the threat posed by Shannon LNG’s declaration that it is reapplying for a fracked gas import terminal on the Shannon Estuary. This is a unique opportunity where we have consensus from both the Programme for Government and the Climate Committee to take this meaningful climate action that will leave a legacy that will last beyond the lifetime of this government, namely a legislative and world-first ban on fracked gas imports.

The Green Party has made commitments and signed up against fracked gas imports in  4 areas in public:
  • the Programme for Government which states:  "As Ireland moves towards carbon neutrality, we do not believe that it makes sense to develop LNG gas import terminals importing fracked gas, accordingly we shall withdraw the Shannon LNG terminal from the EU Projects of Common Interest  list in 2021. We do not support the importation of fracked gas and shall develop a policy statement to establish that approach [...] We are conscious of the limitations of examining greenhouse gas emissions solely on a production basis. We will conduct a review of greenhouse gas emissions on a consumption basis, with a goal of ensuring that Irish and EU action to reduce emissions supports emission reductions globally, as well as on our own territories
  • the pledge ahead of Mark Ruffalo's support webinar for the Programme for Government where Eamon Ryan  tweeted ".@SafetyBeforeLng be rest assured, if we can agree to the #PFG we will implement the policies which will see an end to the importation of fracked gas via any LNG terminals in Ireland"
  • the Joint Oireachtas Committee report on Climate Change  which recommended : "that the Minister address in the Bill and/or revert to the Committee with a comprehensive plan to ban the importation of fracked gas and specifically to ban LNG terminals in Ireland within the year 2021”.
  • the  #Pledge4Climate which states "I am opposed to the importation of US fracked Gas into Ireland via LNG import terminals. If elected, I, as a T.D., will work to find a way in the next Dail to prevent fracked Gas from entering the Irish energy mix via fixed or floating LNG terminals. I am opposed to fracking in Northern Ireland. If elected, I, as a T.D., will work constructively in the next Dail to prevent fracking from taking place in Northern Ireland". 

However, we still have no policy against LNG terminals and fracked gas imports and have been told by Eamon Ryan's advisor that he will not include a ban on fracked gas imports or LNG infrastructure in the Climate Bill he has responsiblity for re-drafting. That is why the Green Party now needs to clarify that it will not obstruct a fracking import ban from proceeding in the Climate Bill as the Bill makes its way back to the Select Committee and progresses through the legislative process.


A Joint Statement issued by the the Irish Centre for Human Rights’ Human Rights Law Clinic and local NGOs campaigning against LNG terminals, Fracking and Fracked Gas Imports into Ireland ‘Friends of the Earth’, ‘Safety Before LNG’, ‘Love Leitrim’, ‘Belcoo Frack Free’ and ‘FutureProof Clare’  has already called on the Government to implement a ban on the importation of fracked gas in the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2020 ('Climate Bill').  The Joint Statement  calls on the Government to insert into the Climate Bill a section that amends the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development Act 1960 in order to prohibit the importation or sale of fracked gas into Ireland.
 
The Joint Statement was responding to the recommendation by the Joint Committee on Climate Action in its pre-legislative scrutiny report of the Climate Bill “that the Minister address in the Bill and/or revert to the Committee with a comprehensive plan to ban the importation of fracked gas and specifically to ban LNG terminals in Ireland within the year 2021”.
 
The Joint Statement includes a legal opinion demonstrating that the proposed statutory ban is compatible with EU, EFTA and WTO trade rules. A fracked gas import ban would demonstrate a willingness to tackle the world’s largest single super emitter of methane and one of the worst contributors to climate change. It would also  demonstrate solidarity and empathy with communities in Pennsylvania, Texas, Northern Ireland and elsewhere affected by, or threatened with, the scourge of fracking.  Such a ban would set Ireland on course to become a Global Climate Leader. Ireland would be the first country in the world to ban the importation of fracked gas having already implemented a legislative ban on fracking in 2017. The global trade in LNG is being fueled by the boom in climate-destructive fracking and both are inextricably linked.

Shannon LNG holds the status of EU Project of Common Interest until October due to its 4th-PCI-listed status [see footnote 1]. If the promised written policy against fracked gas imports and LNG terminals is not published immediately then the company will likely succeed in getting planning permission as it is still a project currently deemed to be in the overriding public interest.

A policy statement is now clearly not enough because it will only last for the lifetime of this government, whereas legislation in the climate bill will send a true climate-leadership message that Ireland will be the first country in the world to have a legislative ban on fracked gas imports. Shannon LNG has been on the table for over 14 years now and this project must be stubbed out, once and for all, to give certainty to the market, to legislators and to the public at large.



End.

Footnotes

1. As long as Shannon LNG lodges a new application before the 5th PCI list comes in to being, then it retains the status of PCI throughout the permit granting process.  The timing of when it makes the application is what is important under article 5 of the PCI regulation 347/2013,  which states
"Projects which are no longer on the Union list shall lose all rights and obligations linked to the status of project of common interest arising from this Regulation. However, a project which is no longer on the Union list but for which an application file has been accepted for examination by the competent authority shall maintain the rights and obligations arising from Chapter III, except where the project is no longer on the list for the reasons set out in paragraph 8."
 
Article 7 of the PCI regulation 347/2013 states:
"Where such status exists in national law, projects of common interest shall be allocated the status of the highest national significance possible and be treated as such in permit granting processes — and if national law so provides, in spatial planning — including those relating to environmental assessments, in the manner such treatment is provided for in national law applicable to the corresponding type of energy infrastructure." and
"With regard to the environmental impacts addressed in Article 6(4) of Directive 92/43/EEC and Article 4(7) of Directive 2000/60/EC, projects of common interest shall be considered as being of public interest from an energy policy perspective, and may be considered as being of overriding public interest, provided that all the conditions set out in these Directives are fulfilled"
 
Article 3 confers even more priority status for a PCI project:
"Projects of common interest included on the Union list pursuant to paragraph 4 of this Article shall become an integral part of the relevant regional investment plans under Article 12 of Regulations (EC) No 714/2009 and (EC) No 715/2009 and of the relevant national 10-year network development plans under Article 22 of Directives 2009/72/EC and 2009/73/EC and other national infrastructure plans concerned, as appropriate. Those projects shall be conferred the highest possible priority within each of those plans"

The Shannon LNG Fracked gas import terminal project had been added to the 4th PCI List by DG Energy with no sustainability assessment - a fact noted by the EU Ombudsman in its report on November 17th 2020. Incidentally, the legality of the addition of the Shannon LNG Fracked gas import terminal to the 4th PCI List without any sustainability assessment of the climate impacts of its methane leakage is still being challenged in the Irish High Court with the next hearing of the High Court on the matter due on March 26th, 2021 (Friends of the Irish Environment CLG-v-Minister for Communications (2020/76/JR)).


Contact:
John McElligott
Safety Before LNG
(087-2804474)
SafetyBeforeLNG@hotmail.com