A serious gap in the decision-making process on fracking

How fracking transforms land (Photo: Huffington Post)

Minister for Energy, Pat Rabbitte, gave a speech on 17th April in Royal Irish Academy which confirmed that, despite 1,300 submissions being made to the EPA, the majority of which demanded a study of the health impacts of fracking, the proposed research study on fracking is confined to identifying “best practice in respect of environmental protection for the use of hydraulic fracturing techniques”.
This excludes the stages of pad construction, drilling of wells, gas extraction and treatment, gas transport and site reclamation, all of which add their own risks to communities and to health.  It is therefore far too restrictive.  Many submissions made to the EPA pointed out this fact.  Why is the Minister not listening to the people?
It is also extremely disturbing that no health study is proposed despite the clear wishes of the people.  The EPA study, as described, appears to be an exercise designed to pave the way for fracking.  The project proposed for Leitrim would take over vast tracts of land and industrialise them, changing the landscape and way of life for its communities forever.  No regulations or “best practice” would be able to prevent contamination risks to ground and surface water, air pollution, noise, disturbance and accidents.
Minister Rabbitte went on to state that “The shale revolution is a game-changer”.  We dispute this.  Shale gas does not change the game of burning fossil fuels; it is not clean energy, despite the propaganda of the oil/gas industry; it is not a sustainable source of energy, disappearing once the gas is extracted; the gas produced would belong to the industry, not to the people, and would be sold on the international market at the market price.  Fracking will NOT bring cheap gas to Ireland, nor will it make us energy-secure.
Good Energies Alliance Ireland believes that we should be moving forward on the path towards making Ireland carbon-neutral by 2050 and ensuring that all decisions made on energy sources, uses and allocation of resources reflects this priority.  Shale gas is not the answer!
The International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a recent report that “Governments have the power to create markets and policies that accelerate development and deployment of clean energy technologies, yet the potential of these technologies remains largely untapped.”
Ireland has a choice – to go down the fracking route and destroy our rural communities and international reputation or be a world leader in the move away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy sources.
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