Stop the study – 2015

Summary of the year

April: GEAI hosted John Armstrong, Renee Vogelsang and Julia Walsh from FrackAction New York, successful New York campaigners who were at the forefront of the ban on fracking in New York State

September: Our Director Aedin McLoughlin was a member of an international delegation to Washington, Pennsylvania and New York State as part of the 2015 Fracking Tour organised by the Heinrich Boell Foundation, Germany.  The delegation met decision makers from each state at the highest level, as well as visits to communities impacted by fracking

September: GEAI discovered that the Research Study on fracking research, administrated by EPA, was being carried out by CDM Smith (U.S. pro-fracking consultancy providing services to the oil and gas industry) and Amec Foster Wheeler (oil/gas industry consultant whose clients include BP, Shell, BR Petrobras, GDF Suez and ExxonMobil).  Following this discovery, GEAI together with Fracking Free Network organised the successful STOP the STUDY Campaign.

October: Highly successful public Stop the Study meeting in Glenfarne

November:  Stop the Study Rally outside Leinster House, followed by meeting with politicians in Leinster House.  Also, GEAI took part in People’s Climate March.

December: Attended Joint Oireachtas Committee meeting held to discuss the Research project.  EPA representatives also attended and were questioned for three hours. More

1.  US Fracking Tour with Dr.Aedín McLoughlin, September 2015

Day1  Washington D.C.  Meeting with Julia Walsh, Campaign Director, Frack Action.

Day2 Washington D.C.  Meeting with Wenonah Hauter, Food and Water Watch, other delegates

Day3 Washington D.C.  Meeting with Sierra Club, Congressman Polis staff, Dyson Slocum (Public Citizen Energy Programme), David Livington (Carnigie Endowment for International Peace)

Day4 Montrose, Pennsylvania.  Tour of fracked areas and meetings with impacted citizens in Dimock.  Travel to Pittsburgh, meeting with Riana Rippell (Southwestern Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project)

Day5 Pittsburgh.  Meeting with Philip Johnson, Heinz Foundation, Republican Congressman, Dave Ball.  Travel to Ithica, New York State.  Meeting with many eminent campaigners, scientists and medical experts, including Prof Anthony Ingraffea and Prof Robert Howarth

Day6 Albany, New York State capital.  Met with officials from Dept of Environment and Dept of Health, Steven Liss, Attorney in Law and Lobbyist. Travel to New York

MYTHS AND RISKS – U.S. FRACKING TOUR 2015 This document giving an overview of the industry narrative and the truth behind the lies told.

2. Meeting with New York Campaign Leaders, April 2015

NY_Fracking_Ban225_2[1]Three American leaders of the successful New York Campaign against Fracking – Julia Walsh, Renee Vogelsang and John Armstrong – told the story of their success in getting a review of the Public Health impacts of Fracking by the New York State Department of Health, followed by consideration of the review and a full ban on fracking by Governor Cuomo.
The three campaigners were hosted by Good Energies Alliance Ireland, Love Leitrim and Northwest Network Against Fracking during their visit to Ireland.

More

STOP the STUDY Campaign, September-December 2015

Path of Stop the Study Campaign:

Stop the Study

  1. Research – CDM Smith + QUB doc
  2. April 2015: America – effects of Fracking + NY Ban asked by EPA infophotos
  3. September 2015: EPA answered questions. Progress report showed study is being done by CDM + AMEC
  4. October 2015: Public Meeting Glenfarne infophotos
  5. November 2015: Stop the Study Rally Leinster House, Dublin – Global Frackdown Pariswhy Stop the Study?video of the day
  6. December 2015: Climate March info
  7. December 2015: COP21, Meeting of a Joint Oireachtas Committee on EnergyRadio interview on fracking
How the study on Fracking in Ireland was Discredited
  • A research studyot looking at whether fracking should be permitted; instead it was looking at h
  • on fracking in Ireland, north and south, was in progress, administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • The research study has been contracted to a group led by CDM Smith, a U.S. pro-fracking consultancy providing services to the oil and gas industry. They were carrying out most of the work.
  • Amec Foster Wheeler was the second major player in the study. Amec is a oil/gas industry consultant whose clients include BP, Shell, BR Petrobras, GDF Suez and ExxonMobil.  This study was being written by the industry for the industry.
  • The Oireachtas has been misled about who is undertaking the study. (Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) have played no part in the research since October 2014.)
  • There was unacceptable secrecy surrounding this research. Interim reports were not being made public; no public participation was allowed before the final report was published; no independent external peer review was planned.
  • This study was not independent yet, it was intended to underpin government policy on fracking. It was how fracking can be rolled out.  It was not fit for purpose.
  • Plans for October included the issuing of tenders by EPA for risky seismic testing and air and water monitoring across the Island, providing valuable information to the fracking companies.
  • The Irish taxpayer was effectively giving a subsidy of €1.5 million to the oil and gas industry for this study.
OUR CALLS

“We call on Government, in particular the Ministers for the Environment and for Energy, to direct the EPA to STOP THE STUDY related to the “Environmental Impacts of Unconventional Gas Exploration & Extraction (UGEE)” immediately and to cancel the issuing of supplementary tenders for on-the-ground seismic testing and other monitoring tasks relating to this work.”

The study considered at the time, designed in 2012, was already out of date.  Over half of the available studies on the adverse impacts of fracking had been published since January 2014. In 2014, 192 peer-reviewed studies on the impacts of fracking were published. In the first six months of 2015, 103 studies appeared[1].  “It is clear from the existing literature and experience that HVHF (fracking) activity has resulted in environmental impacts that are potentially adverse to public health” (NY State DOH Public Health Review)[2].

“We call for a review of the health impacts of fracking that considers the findings of all relevant peer-reviewed studies and reports, based on the methodology of the NY State DOH Public Health Review (December 2014), to be carried out by the Chief Medical Officer, under the auspices of the HSE and the Department of Health.”

“STOP THE STUDY” TIMELINE
Prelude

August 2015
Aedín McLoughlin was named a member of delegation to EPA from Environmental Pillar, to take place on 17th Sept. She asked for the following to be put on the agenda:
” Update on the research study on Fracking administered by EPA to include the role of CDM Smith, the Dissemination Plan and methodology of Peer Review of the final report.”

September 2015
5th – 14th Aedín was on an international delegation to the US to examine the situation concerning fracking. They visited Washington, Pennsylvania fracking sites, Pittsburg, Ithica, Albany and New York, getting the perspectives of people from politicians to funding foundations to communities.
17th – Aedín attended the meeting with EPA. The delegation was given a lot of documentation, including a full Progress Report that showed that the study was being largely carried out by CDM Smith and AMEC.
27th – Press releases ignored by national press

The Campaigners gather

October 2015
7th – Meeting held to brief attendees on the EPA report and to plan a campaign. Decided to call it “Stop the Study”. Campaign to include social media, a public meeting on 17th with supporters, politicians, etc., and a rally outside Leinster House. Campaign to be headed up by Fracking Free Network if groups agreed. Campaigners included members of many anti-fracking groups. More
8 – 15th Social media targeting of journalists and politicians to attend public meeting
17th – Meeting in Glenfarne, over 100 attended, including many politicians. Panel included Vanessa Vine, Carroll O’Dolan, Tom White and Aedín. All politicians who attended promised to support the campaign. Included SF, FF, FG.
Great urgency felt as the tenders for the on-the-ground monitoring were expected to be issued at any time.
Agreed to hold rally outside Leinster House on 5th November. Press briefing planned for Buswell’s Hotel. Subsequently, found out that Buswell’s was not available. Michael Colreavy TD (Sinn Féin) said that he would organise a venue inside Leinster House.
Social media storm continued. Document revealing CDM Smith and AMEC involvement circulated. Questions put to the Minister by Michael Colreavy (SF), Senator Paschal Mooney (FF) and Tony McLoughlin (FG). EPA to be called before the Joint Oireachtas Committee (JOC) again to answer questions.

The Rally

November 2015
5th – Rally outside Leinster House. Well supported despite the weather. Michael Colreavy had organised the AV room for us, which was great, it held a lot of people and we could make presentations. The meeting was chaired by Michael and the panel included Oisin Coghlan (FOE), Tom White, Eamonn Ryan (Green Party) and Aedín. Presentations were followed by questions from the floor, ably chaired by Michael. Politicians from all parties attended. The room was packed.
Following this meeting, further social media promotion of the campaign. Meeting with JOC now set for 2nd December. Briefing documents written for all committee members. Email campaign to encourage them to attend. Meeting held with Michael Colreavy re JOC meeting, also with Paschal Mooney.

Joint Oireachtas Committee and Dáil

December 2015
2nd – JOC meeting. Attended by Eddie Mitchell, Michael Gallagher, Aedín, GEAI volunteers and others. EPA grilled for 3 hours. All committee members used the information they were given to ask the EPA questions. Michael Colreavy and Paschal Mooney especially impressive. Richard Boyd Barrett (PBP) gave EPA a hard time and got some unexpected answers.
2nd – Short meeting with Minister Joe McHugh arranged by Tony McLoughlin. Eddie, Michael G. and Aedín met the Minister, who was told that the research study was completely compromised and must be stopped, especially that the on-the-ground studies must not be tendered for; also that policy on hydrocarbon exploration and extraction must be revised. This was the only meeting held with the Minister.
15th – Minister McHugh questioned by Claire Daly TD and Michael Colreavy. Minister says “I will ask the steering committee to produce at an early date (January) interim findings on the significant body of work done. No decision will be made on the tendering process (for Phase 2) until that work is carried out.”
17th – Richard Boyd Barrett introduced a Bill to Ban Fracking. Not adopted by Government.

January 2016
Interim Report not forthcoming by end of January. Tony McLoughlin TD requests clarification from DCENR officials.

Official Announcement of halt to the study

February 2016
2nd – Tony McLoughlin received a briefing document from DCENR officials saying that Phase 2 would be put “on hold” and “the Consortium would be requested to produce a report pulling together the results of the research carried out to-date. It is anticipated that this report, could be completed and published by Q3 of this year.”
4th – EPA press release confirms the above.

In Q3, the 2-year contract with CDM Smith will be finished.

Comment

This was a completely cross-party campaign. The main Oireachtas player was Sinn Féin TD Michael Colreavy, who put a lot of work into the campaign against fracking from the start and into this campaign in particular. Michael was instrumental in getting us the room in Leinster House, also (with Paschal Mooney) in calling the EPA before the JOC in December. He also ensured that he was briefed properly before each event. Michael was very insistent that the campaign was cross-party.
Fine Gael TD Tony McLoughlin supported the campaign by asking Parliamentary Questions and arranged one meeting with Minister McHugh.
Fianna Fáil Senator Paschal Mooney, also a member of the JOC, was very supportive during the campaign, especially in arranging the presence of EPA at the Meeting in December.
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett grilled the EPA with great effect and introduced a Ban Fracking Bill to the Oireachtas, thus increasing awareness of fracking among the politicians nationally. Clare Daly TD was also effective from the floor of the Dáil.
The Stop the Study Campaign workers acknowledge the support given by all of the above, without which its success could not have been achieved.

The Study has indeed been stopped. Forever? Who knows! Without this campaign, the tenders for on-the-ground monitoring would be awarded by now. But the campaign doesn’t end here. In the Press Release (6th Feb), it was stated that the campaign against fracking is not over, only legislation will prevent fracking from ever coming to Ireland. Our challenge now is to ensure that such legislation is drafted by the next government and gets cross-party support. Let 2016 be the year that Ireland officially bans fracking!

16th February 2015

The email template we used to reach out to local politicians

“Dear

Fracking is not a local issue.  Nationally, it threatens our two most important industries – agriculture and farming.  At present, a study that is to inform Government policy on fracking is proceeding, but not as envisaged.

  • Effectively, the study has been taken over by two consultancy firms who are working for oil and gas companies, including BP and Shell.  The study is not independent.
  • The main objective of the study – to answer the question: “Can UGEE projects/operations be carried out in the island of Ireland whilst also protecting the environment and human health?”  – was written out of the research tasks and human health is ignored.
  • The next phase of the “research” is the issuing of tenders for a number of seismic testing and ground monitoring stations north and south of the island, providing valuable information to the fracking companies.  These tenders are due to be issued immediately.
  • The study does not examine WHETHER fracking should be allowed; instead it looks HOW it can be rolled out in Ireland.  It is not fit for purpose.

We suggest that you submit the following Notices of Motion to your Local Authority:

  1. Given that a) serious questions must be asked about the independence of the EPA-administered research study on “Environmental Impacts of Unconventional Gas Exploration & Extraction (UGEE)” (fracking) and b) the scope of the study which does not review public health impacts of fracking, this Council calls on Government, in particular the Ministers for the Environment and for Energy, to direct the EPA to stop the study immediately and to cancel the issuing of supplementary tenders for on-the-ground seismic testing and other monitoring tasks relating to this work.
  2. This council calls for a review of the public health impacts of fracking that considers the findings of all relevant peer-reviewed studies and reports, based on the methodology of the NY State DOH Public Health Review (December 2014), to be carried out by the Chief Medical Officer, under the auspices of the HSE and the Department of Health.

A PUBLICITY EVENT WILL TAKE PLACE OUTSIDE LEINSTER HOUSE ON THURSDAY 5TH NOVEMBER AT 12.30PM

PLEASE JOIN US TO SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR THIS CAUSE.

STOP THIS STUDY!

NO FRACKING IN IRELAND!”

Suggestion for Notices of Motion for Local Authorities
  1. “Given that a) serious questions must be asked about the independence of the EPA-administered research study on “Environmental Impacts of Unconventional Gas Exploration & Extraction (UGEE)” (fracking) and b) the scope of the study which does not review public health impacts of fracking, this Council calls on Government, in particular the Ministers for the Environment and for Energy, to direct the EPA to stop the study immediately and to cancel the issuing of supplementary tenders for on-the-ground seismic testing and other monitoring tasks relating to this work.”
  2. “This council calls for a review of the public health impacts of fracking that considers the findings of all relevant peer-reviewed studies and reports, based on the methodology of the NY State DOH Public Health Review (December 2014), to be carried out by the Chief Medical Officer, under the auspices of the HSE and the Department of Health.”
Press Releases
EPA Admits Serious Flaws in Fracking Research Study at Dáil Committee Meeting

Environmental Groups & Supporters Vow to Ramp Up Campaign to Stop the Study & Ban Fracking in Ireland

Mark Ruffalo & New Yorkers who banned fracking last year due to human health risks encourage the Irish people to join the campaign against fracking in Ireland

Dublin – Members of the Campaign against Fracking in Ireland, including Good Energies Alliance Ireland, Love Leitrim, Friends of the Earth, and Irish-American campaigner Julia Walsh from the New York-based NGO Frack Action attended Wednesday’s meeting of a Joint Oireachtas Committee on Energy in which TD’s questioned EPA following reports that the EPA-led study is being carried out by the oil and gas industry providers CDM Smith and AMEC. TDs rigorously questioned EPA Assistant Director General Dara Lynott and Research Manager Dr Brian Donlon for 3 hours.

EPA admitted at the committee meeting to serious flaws in the research study including:

  • That no public health research or researchers with medical expertise are included in conducting the fracking research study.  They confirmed that, as a result of this research study, EPA will not be able to tell the Irish people whether fracking is safe for human health.

  • EPA confirmed that Achilles procurement, an oil and gas industry provider, helped to draft the Terms of Reference of the study, which provide the framework for the study. They were involved in the administration of the tender process which resulted in the contract being awarded to CDM Smith.

  • EPA confirmed that there will be no public comment or participation as part of the finalisation of the fracking research study, including no external, independent peer review process.

  • EPA admitted that the study is very small-scale, studying the environmental impacts of just one fracked well.  There are no studies considering the cumulative impacts of the thousands of wells planned for Ireland.

  • EPA admitted that when tenders were sought, the evaluation committee looked for experts in fracking rather than independent researchers.  The result was that the main contractors, CDM Smith and AMEC, are present or past members of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group that publicly promotes fracking.  The EPA admitted that they knew the contractors were members of the industry group but denied that this was “hopeless conflict of interest” (as suggested by TD Richard Boyd Barrett).

  • In the research study there is no consideration of greenhouse gas emissions caused by fracking, although the EPA admitted that fracking would increase carbon emissions and make it even more difficult for Ireland to achieve its 2020/2030 emission targets.

  • The EPA confirmed that they did not notify the JOC committee of the major change in status of Queen’s University (QUB’s) involvement in the research study last June.  They actually promoted QUB as a consortium member at this time, using their involvement to establish the independence of the research study.  The TDs were only made aware of the change in QUB status after the campaigners alerted them, following Freedom of Information Act requests.

“Our worst fears were confirmed. The Irish Government has given over its authority to the oil and gas industry, which is controlling the process of this study every step of the way, right from the beginning.  The abysmal failure of the EPA’s fracking research study and the confirmation of its flaws were apparent throughout the meeting on an issue that could impact the lives of millions of Irish people.  This process is beyond fixing and must be stopped in its tracks.  The question the public want answered is how fracking will impact human health in Ireland and this is not even on the agenda of the study.  It is totally disgraceful that taxpayer’s money is being used on a study that does not answer the essential question but instead is designed to support the oil and gas industry in their applications for exploration and extraction licences,” said Dr. Aedín McLoughlin, Director, Good Energies Alliance Ireland.

During the committee meeting, TDs cited the research from the New York State Department of Health that led to New York State’s ban on fracking because it posed serious public health risks to New Yorkers. The question was asked how, if fracking is not safe for New Yorkers’ public health, it could be safe for Irish public health. “I have no idea” was the answer from the EPA.

“My fellow New Yorkers and I are working together with Ireland’s anti-fracking campaigners because if fracking is not safe for New York then it’s not safe for Ireland!” said actor and advocate Mark Ruffalo. “New York banned fracking because the State Department of Health and Department of Environment conducted years-long independent studies on the environment and public health and safety risks of fracking, concluding that fracking is not safe for human health. The governments of Ireland and Northern Ireland have behaved irresponsibly in having the oil and gas industry conduct this study on fracking in Ireland. It’s always best to keep the fracking fox out of your hen house! As we have learned time and time again in the United States, the oil and gas industry cannot be trusted. I encourage the Irish people to join the campaign to stop fracking in Ireland. This study must be stopped and like New York, fracking should be banned in Ireland.”

Campaigners, including New York campaigner Julia Walsh from the group Frack Action, are available for interviews.

 

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