European politicians recognised the specific environmental, health and social impacts of fracking today, according to Friends of the Earth Europe. For the first time, and as a result of a vote in the European Parliament today, some of the dangers of unconventional fossil fuels like shale gas are now specifically reflected in environmental and health safeguards applicable to all fossil fuels. However, the organisation warns that this does not close the door on dirty and dangerous unconventional fossil fuels.
Antoine Simon, shale gas campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "Today's vote dismantles the 'transition' myth and exposes shale gas for what it really is – a dirty fossil fuel. The Parliament is waking up to the dangerous realities of unconventional fossil fuels, and the threat they pose to the health of Europe's citizens and the environment."
As part of a wider review of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive, and as a result of today's vote, fracking during the exploration for, and extraction of, unconventional fossil fuels is now subject to the same mandatory assessments as conventional fossil fuels. These assessments take into account the possible positive or negative social and environmental impacts a proposed project may have, require mandatory baseline studies and involve local populations in decision-making. However, some damaging exploratory activities are excluded from the legislation – including seismic tests, and drill pad construction.
Antoine Simon, shale gas campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "Shale gas developers in the US profited from gaps in environmental and health legislation and didn't do environmental impact assessments; this vote is the beginning of a long process to prevent a repeat in Europe. It's a boost for local movements resisting their development across the continent, but does not take into account all of the negative impacts of shale gas – like seismic tests and drill pad construction."
Friends of the Earth Europe campaigns against the extraction of unconventional fossil fuels, including shale gas. The extraction of unconventional gas and oil poses a significant threat to the climate, the environment and to local communities, according to the organisation. They will lock Europe into fossil fuel use, jeopardise emissions reduction targets and prevent investments in genuine solutions – like the development of community renewable energy resources, and energy savings projects.
Friends of the Earth Europe are supporting a global day of action against fracking, Global Frackdown Day, on October 19th, 2013. For more information: www.globalfrackdown.org