New controversial European Commission guidelines on fracking, aim to make it easier for Energy corporations to use hydraulic Fracking technology to extract gas.
The European Commission will urge member states to adopt the new non-binding guidelines which are being seen as a victory for energy companies.
European Union member governments will be urged to adopt the non-binding principles so that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is done safely and without confusion over conflicting environmental regulations among states and the European Union according to the draft recommendations.
The Hydrocarbon Energy sector and financial institutions which have been lobbying the European Commission have argued that Shale gas exploration prospects in European countries are difficult compared with the U.S. because some European countries are creating new laws to regulate against Fracking, for example Total SA, which is banned from fracking in its home country, France, yesterday became the largest oil producer in the U.K.’s Fracking industry.
The European Commission has said in a draft statement to governments to accompany the guidelines“As shale-gas exploration activities are progressing, member states have started interpreting the EU environmental legislation in different ways” including bans and moratoriums, the EU needs a level playing field to respond to a “fast-evolving energy landscape,”
The European Commission has declined to comment on draft recommendations saying only that the proposals will be part of a package of documents on future energy and climate policies to be considered by EU governments.
The EU is debating a framework that could reconcile the need to protect the climate with demands to make the bloc more competitive at a time when energy prices in the U.S., its biggest trading partner, have sunk amid rising shale-gas output.
The decision to offer new voluntary guidelines while maintaining current EU oil and gas laws is being seen as a victory for the Fracking industry groups and neo liberal governments such as Poland and the U.K. which are promoting Fracking in Europe.
The UK Government is offering tax breaks and other incentives to open up its shale industry as North Sea oil and gas reserves decline. Prime Minister David Cameron this month pledged millions of pounds to local authorities that approve shale developments, part of a drive to create jobs and attract investment.
The guidelines are perceived as a defeat for environmental lobbies including Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace that wanted Fracking restricted under EU-wide rules.
“This is obviously a very disappointing and alarming proposal,” said Antoine Simon, shale-gas campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe. “European politicians are turning a blind eye to the dangerous realities of shale-gas expansion.”
Lawrence Carter, a climate campaigner at Greenpeace in London, said “The EU proposals offer “nothing in the way of real protection for the thousands of ordinary people who will see their lives and local areas turned upside down if the fracking industry gets its way.”
The new guidelines ignore the concerns of the majority of individuals, companies and institutions that responded to the EU public consultations on shale gas that ended in March who saw the need for further European action to address challenges and risks linked to Shale gas exploration.
The draft EU shale-gas framework yields to the interests of “fossil-fuel-fixated governments,” said Friends of the Earth’s Simon. It “ignores the studies the commission published and fails to protect Europe’s citizens from the health and environmental risks of unconventional and dirty fossil fuels.”
Get more information from Friends of the Earth Europe about Shale gas Fracking here