ANTI-FRACKING BILL WELCOME, BUT NOT ENOUGH


An amendment of the Petroleum and Minerals Act 1960 has been brought to the floor of the Dáil byand publicised as a ban on fracking.  The approach is to redefine Petroleum as “does not include any gas extracted through unconventional gas exploration and extraction methods “.  If this bill was passed, any petroleum licences for exploration or extraction of natural gas by fracking would not be permitted.

Leslie O'Hora - Green Party candidate

Leslie O’Hora – Green Party candidate

“I welcome any initiative to look for legislation to ban fracking.  However, I have a problem with this amendment, first published in 2013,” said Leslie O’Hora, Green Party candidate for Sligo/Leitrim and member of GEAI.  “The wording does not include oil, which is a major omission, given the current drilling in north Belfast, expressly looking for oil deposits.  Legislation based on this bill could allow fracking to extract oil”.

“In my view, and the view of other anti-fracking campaigners, any legislation banning fracking must be mirrored north and south.  We are one island and the oil and gas industries know no border.  In Northern Ireland, proposals to use unconventional methods (“fracking”) to extract oil are currently being explored.”

“I also have a problem with the terms “unconventional”.  There is no standard definition of this and the industry changes definitions all the time.  This term would need to be defined carefully if it was to be used in legislation.  In fact, the Green Party position is that ALL exploration and extraction of on-shore petroleum (including oil and gas) should be prohibited in the context of Climate Change and our obligations under the Paris Agreement.”

Stunning success of Renewable Energies – Prosperous Communities!

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The event “Renewable Energies – Prosperous Communities” has been a success. Yesterday, almost 100 people gathered in Manorhamilton to take their energy future into their own hands. The main outcome of this pioneering event was the decision to develop a plan for community-owned renewable energy projects in North Leitrim. The event, organised by Good Energies Alliance Ireland and Love Leitrim was also intensively followed on social media and it was livestreamed globally.

Pauline Gallacher, Neilston Trust (Scotland), Eamon Ryan, Green Party leader, and Cormac Walsh, Energy Co-operatives Ireland, were the main speakers. Gallacher’s presentation was one of the most inspiring ones. “Use community-owned energy to stimulate ownership of the carbon emission reduction agenda and harness your own resources to build your own sustainable future”, she told to the Irish audience.

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“Renewable Energies – Prosperous Communities” was aimed at raising awareness of the opportunities open to local communities to benefit from renewable energies, look at the potential to generate income and jobs for the community and identify local champions of renewable energy. During the day all the people attending had the chance to learn about successful community-owned experiences from Ireland and Scotland and also to raise every question, doubt and misunderstanding they might have had.

“We are delighted with the success of the event” GEAI director Aedín McLoughlin said at the end of this day of workshops and discussions. “It was great to see so many people , but this is only the first step of a bigger project. Renewables can be the source to re-energise rural communities, bringing jobs and income, and we want to replicate this event in many towns and villages across Ireland, providing sustainable alternatives for fossil fuels”, McLoughlin stated.

More pictures on Flickr!

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Only one week to start changing Ireland’s energy landscape!

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Only 7 days left to Renewable Energies – Prosperous Communities! A full day of workshops and discussion taking place in Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim. This full day of workshops and discussions will look at the ways that renewable energies can generate income for communities and create local jobs, as well as reducing energy bills! We need to create an alternative vision for Northwest communities threatened by fracking and this is exactly the aim of Renewable Energies – Prosperous Communities!

People attending will have the opportunity to listen about successful experiences from Ireland and Scotland. Pauline Gallacher, from the Neilston Trust (Scotland), will tell how this town in the outskirts of Glasgow transformed the community from a dormitory town to a prosperous community thank to a community-owned small wind farm. Many rural communities can learn a lot from this experience and replicate it. Cormac Walsh, from Energy Co-Operatives Ireland, will talk about the potential of community energy cooperatives. Another key speaker is Eamon Ryan, Green Party leader, who will talk about the challenges of global warming.

During the day, GEAI will present the results of an Energy Audit carried out in Manorhamilton that shows that households spend more than €2 million every year on energy. Over three quarters of this is spent on imported fossil fuels and this shows the importance of replacing fossil fuels with renewables.

“Renewable Energies – Prosperous Communities” is the first event of its kind organised in Ireland, but it is not going to be the last. We could be witnessing the beginning of reshaping Ireland’s energy landscape and it is happening in the Northwest!

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Millions of euro spent on imported energy in Manorhamilton

Manorhamilton households spend more than €2 million every year on transport and other energy uses. This is the startling total determined through an Energy Audit carried out by GEAI and Love Leitrim volunteers. The study calculates that the 563 households in the town spend over €500,000 on electricity and over €600,000 on other fuels (oil, gas and solid fuels), an average of €2,200 per household. A total of €1 million is also spent on petrol and diesel, an average of €1,600 per car owner. “What this means is that over €1.5 million of Manorhamilton’s disposable income is spent on imported fossil fuels every year and therefore lost to the economy!” said GEAI Director, Aedín McLoughlin. “People don’t realise the very real potential of renewable energies to reduce imports, generate income and jobs for local communities and provide energy security for the future. The Manorhamilton community, having turned its back on fracking, is now looking at alternatives and is finding out that renewable energies, as well as lowering carbon emissions, can also benefit the health and economic growth of its town.” The survey is part of the “Renewable Energies – Prosperous Communities” event taking place on 24th June in the Bee Park Centre, Manorhamilton. It will be a day of presentations, workshops and discussions with many interesting speakers and topics of discussion. Pauline Gallacher from the Neilston Trust (Scotland) and Eamon Ryan, Green Party leader will be the main speakers, but this is not going to be the usual conference where local people simply listen to experts. The aim is that everyone attending will get a chance to speak and be heard.

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Registration for the event

Deborah Rogers: The economics of fracking

Deborah Rogers – Founder of EnergyPolicyForum and critic of Fracking

Deborah Rogers is an expert in the economics of shale gas and an advisor to the Obama administration.  Speaking at the 2030 Vision conference in Carrick-on-Shannon this month, she made it clear that the shale gas industry in the US is now in deep trouble.  The basic reason for this is that initially it was assumed that shale gas wells would behave much like conventional wells (tapping into an underground reservoir of gas) with a lifetime of 20 years.  All production and cash projections were based on this assumption, which turned out to be hopelessly optimistic.  In fact, the average productive shale gas well has a lifetime of 3 – 5 years only.

Deborah Rogers at 2030 Vision conferenceBased on those initial projections, everyone jumped on the bandwagon and some leasing companies made fortunes. Drilling companies went into huge debt, encouraged by investment banks that made millions in fees.  Initially easily accessible gas was produced.  However, the wells started drying up far sooner than anticipated and the companies continued to drill more and more wells to meet their production targets, motivated by the cost of loans taken out.  They cannot stop, resulting in a glut of gas and the price has plummeted. The selling price of gas at present is roughly half the cost of production, so all shale gas companies are losing money.

“The whole thing doesn’t make sense”, said Ms Rogers.  “Many of the big players have written down their assets, including BP, Encana and Chesapeake. The Marcellus shale gas reserve estimates are down by 80%.  The recovery efficiency for the five major shale gas plays averages 6.5% compared with 75–80% for conventional gas fields.  The biggest companies, e.g. Exxon-Mobil, are now selling their assets.  Is the shale gas bubble soon going to deflate?”

“In the meantime, the drilling frenzy continues with collateral damage in the form of air pollution, ground water depletion, road damages and potential aquifer ruination”, she continued.  “This is immense and will only continue to rise as more and more wells need to be drilled. None of these impacts are at present covered financially by the gas companies – in other words, profits are to be privatized while costs and negative impacts will be borne by the people. “

“2030 Vision – The Future of Energy in Ireland” conference was organised by Good Energies Alliance Ireland (GEAI) to look at the choices of energy sources that Ireland has to make in the future.  Speakers included Eamon Ryan, Leader of the Green Party, who gave an inspirational talk on the potential of renewable energy sources, in particular wind energy, to substitute for hydrocarbons.  The conference was part-funded by Leitrim County Council through the Agenda 21 programme.

Link to Deborah Roger’s presentation at 2030 Vision Conference: http://bit.ly/GJjt2Q

Profile of Deborah Rogers

Deb RogersDeborah Rogers lives in Texas, US. She has worked as a financial consultant for several major Wall Street firms, including Merrill Lynch and Smith Barney. Ms Rogers was appointed as a primary member to the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI), an advisory committee within the U.S. Department of Interior, in 2013 for a three year term. In May 2013, she was invited to testify before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. She was appointed in 2011 by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to a task force reviewing placement of air monitors in the Barnett Shale region in light of air quality concerns brought about by the natural gas operations in North Texas. In June of 2012, she was invited to speak in Rio de Janeiro at the International Society for Ecological Economics in conjunction with the United Nations Rio+20 world summit

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