EPA FRACKING STUDY HAS MAJOR FLAWS

submission-to-hildegarde

Aedín McLoughlin hands Submission to Hildegarde Naughten TD, chairperson of Oireachtas committee

GEAI submission to Oireachtas Committee.

GEAI has made a major submission to the Oireachtas Committee on Environment, Climate Action and Communications on the EPA-commissioned Unconventional Gas Exploration and Extraction (UGEE) Joint Research Programme.  This Study had as its major research question: “Can UGEE be carried out while protecting the environment and human health?”

Conclusions do not reflect findings

We have discovered that the overall summary report did not reflect the findings of the five research reports, which more correctly should have highlighted that:

  • UGEE (fracking) operations globally have major impacts on the environment and on human health, but as human health was not included in the Terms of Reference for the study, the impact of fracking on human health was not included in the study.
  • There are several unknowns around the process of fracking globally and it is not possible to guarantee that hydraulic fracturing can be carried out without contamination of groundwater and air.
  • The hydrogeological profile of the Northwest Carboniferous Basin (mainly Leitrim and Fermanagh) is heavily faulted with deep-seated aquifers and shallow shales, which makes it unsuitable for fracking.

Summary Submission

Full Submission

Advertisements

Story of Stop the Study Campaign

The Timeline of the Campaign

September: Visit to fracking areas and information from EPA on CDM Smith and AMEC involvement in study .
October: Campaign starts to raise awareness of CDM Smith links with oil/gas industry
November: Rally in front of Leinster House and Presentations to Oireachtas members
December: Joint Oireachtas Committee grills EPA for 3 hours.  Ban Fracking Bill introduced to Dáil Eireann.  Minister McHugh requests interim report
February: Report on Study stalled: Phase 1 to be published Q3 of this year; no decision on Phase 2.

For more detail of the campaign events, CLICK HERE

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!

“STOP THE STUDY” CAMPAIGN HAS STOPPED THE STUDY!

Good news – it’s official!

The EPA Research Study on Fracking is now stopped. This study was targeted by the campaign against fracking as research showed the study was compromised – it was being led by companies with huge vested interests in the oil and gas industry. A statement from the Department (DCENR) yesterday (2nd) confirmed that the study has been stopped after its first phase, which included an overall look at regulations and legislation governing fracking. Phase 2, on-the-ground studies in Leitrim and Fermanagh which would have included some drilling, will not proceed and a report of Phase 1 will be published in Q3 of this year.

“GEAI is delighted with this news. Before Christmas, Minister Joe McHugh, who has responsibility for Natural Resources, said that he had requested an interim report from the EPA. It is great news that this has been confirmed. Basically, the study is stalled and, moreover, it is unlikely to proceed in the future – we understand that the contract with the lead research contractor – CDM Smith – finishes in August this year, two years from signing.

However, the campaign does not end. Now we will push for legislation that will ensure that fracking is never introduced into Ireland – the last hurdle. We are launching the “SIGN THE PLEDGE” campaign on Friday – asking all candidates to sign a pledge to support legislation to ban fracking in Ireland permanently.”

EPA and JOC video and transcript

After 3 hours, no satisfaction from EPA

On 2nd December, the Joint Oireacthas Committee on Energy met with a delegation from EPA to discuss the research study on fracking. TDs questioned EPA following reports that the EPA-led study is being carried out by the oil and gas industry providers CDM Smith and AMEC. There was also concern that the committee has been misled about the role of Queen’s University Belfast. TDs rigorously questioned EPA Assistant Director General Dara Lynott and Research Manager Dr Brian Donlon for 3 hours.

Here is the transcript.

The full video: http://www.oireachtas.ie/viewdoc.asp?DocID=30497&&CatID=127

Here you can see 3 of the most important moments:

TD Richard Boyd Barrett raised many really important matters. In particular, he asked why the Study on fracking does not include a health impact study. Simple question? Not for EPA. By the end of the discussion it was impossible to know if fracking is dangerous for human health.

This time, TD Richard Boyd Barrett compared the Irish Study in progress with the conclusion of the Department of Environment in New York State where impacts for human health had been proved by an official study. Logically, if there is a risk for a New Yorker it is the same for an Irish. But, again, EPA answered that they do not know.

In this excerpt, the EPA speaker answers: “There will be no recommendation in this report as whether to proceed with fracking or not to proceed with fracking” to a question from Senator Michael Colreavy. This begs the question: What will be the utility and the exact goal of the study?

 

Stop the Study Campaign – What happened?

Recipe for a successful campaign: focussed, multi-faceted approach!

GEAI, together with other campaigners against fracking, was involved in a series of actions to raise national awareness of the current situation around the EPA Research Study on fracking and to put pressure on government to address policy on this issue.

On 8th September, a delegation from the Environmental Pillar, including our Director, Aedín McLoughlin, met the EPA.  During the course of the meeting, a progress report on the Research Study on Fracking was given to the delegation which showed clearly that the Study is being led and largely carried out by CDM Smith and Amec, both service providers to the oil and gas industry.  Queen’s University, which underpinned the independence of the study, was stated not to be part of the research consortium (also such was maintained).

Given this information, GEAI decided to initiate the “Stop the Study” campaign.  Campaign activities took place from September to December and included:

  • September – December: Social media campaign, including Facebook, Twitter, Emails, Petition, press releases, radio interviews, letter-writing and personal contacts.  Local TDs and members of JOC on Communications were specifically targeted as well as others.
  • 17th September: Organisation of a public meeting in North Leitrim, attended by over 100 people and widely reported.
  • 5th November: Rally outside Leinster House attended by GEAI, FOE, Northwest campaigners, No Fracking Dublin and others.
  • 5th November: Meeting in Leinster House AV Room where presentations were made by GEAI, FOE, Green Party and Love Leitrim to TDs, Senators, MEPs and others.
  • 29th November: Attendance at Climate March in Dublin.  GEAI hosted Julia Walsh, a lead campaigner from Frack Action New York who spoke at the March.  After the march, we attended a meeting of People Before Profit to brief them on fracking and impacts on health.
  • 2nd December: EPA was brought before Joint Oireachtas Committee meeting.  During 3 hours questioning, EPA admitted that the Research Study would not tell us if fracking can be done safely.
  • 2nd December: Attended meeting of Young FOE, gave presentation on the campaign.
  • 15th December:  Junior Minister Joe McHugh said during Dáil Debates that an Interim Report from the Research Study would be produced by the end of January.  No on-land water and seismic studies will proceed until this report is considered.
  • 17th December:  Richard Boyd Barrett TD introduced a Bill to ban fracking in Ireland.  This Bill was largely written by Kate Ruddock (FOE) and Assumpta O’Broin (An Taisce).
Results of campaign. 
  • Huge awareness-raising, especially in Dublin.
  • Oireachtas made aware that all was not right with EPA Research Study.
  • Many Dail questions put to Minister and Junior Minister.
  • Interim report on Research Study now requested from Steering Committee by end January.
  • On-the-ground water and seismic studies delayed until after publication.
  • Study effectively at a standstill.
  • Bill to prohibit fracking in Ireland introduced. This will keep the issue in the public eye.

 

COPYRIGHT

® All rights reserved to GEAI 2017