In a victory for the movement for a fossil free Europe, a climate-damaging gas pipeline project between France and Catalonia has today been blocked by French energy regulators. Permission and funding for the central portion of the controversial ‘MidCat’ mega-project – the STEP (South Transit Eastern Pyrenees) – was refused by France’s Energy Regulatory Commission, on grounds of lack of necessity and high cost. Spanish regulators are expected to follow suit tomorrow.
The decision marks the possible end of the entire ‘MidCat’ endeavour, leaving stranded other sections of the pipeline that are already built. Friends of the Earth says this is a key victory for campaigners opposing new fossil gas infrastructure.
Antoine Simon, fossil free campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said:
“This dramatic red card to the MidCat gas pipeline marks a major victory in the fight to stop new climate-wrecking fossil gas projects. Activists, NGOs and local communities have been fighting this useless project for years, knowing it’s bad for taxpayers, consumers, local people, and the climate – and today they’ve been proved right.”
The €3 billion ‘MidCat’ project – which was prioritised for EU support by EU Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete in the EU’s list of ‘Projects of Common Interest’ (PCI list), alongside 100 other gas projects – was last April found to be not financially viable under most scenarios, in an official cost-benefit study.
Its cancellation throws into doubt the validity and legitimacy of the criteria used by the European Commission to prioritise similar gas projects on the PCI list. And it affirms Friends of the Earth Europe’s criticisms of the list – that it contains many climate-damaging gas projects that have limited viability.
Antoine Simon continued:
“This is a major setback for the gas industry, and calls into question the hundred other gas projects that the EU has prioritised for support, all of which are similarly unviable. Gas is a dangerous fossil fuel which is killing the climate. The gas industry should realise that the party is over and that we can't keep sinking taxpayer billions into more fossil fuels.”
The news comes as a fourth iteration of the PCI list is being prepared by the European Commission, Member States and project promoters. Friends of the Earth Europe calls for all gas projects to be removed from the list.