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.

 

An inspiring meeting in Glenfarne

Janice Raine-Conick, Julia Walsh, John Armstrong, Renee Vogelsang, Aedín McLoughlin and Irina Tiugan.

Janice Raine-Conick, Julia Walsh, John Armstrong, Renee Vogelsang, Aedín McLoughlin and Irina Tiugan.

Three leaders of the 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.

Julia, spokesperson of New York Frack Action said that from the beginning the aim of the campaign was a full Ban on Fracking and for seven years, the campaign repeated this demand. A key component of the campaign was their “Dear Governor Cuomo” strategy, where campaigners followed the Governor and protested at every event he attended. “In the end, if we were not there protesting, he assumed he had arrived at the wrong venue!” Julia joked. On a more serious note, she reiterated the importance of being visible to the person making the decision; “If that is your Minister for Energy, shadow him, be visible, don’t let him think you are gone away.”

John Armstrong warned against the common refrain of the oil and gas industry where they propose to frack, “We’re going to get it right!”. “They will promise you gold standard regulations, consultation, money, anything to convince you that this time all will be well,” said John. “But everywhere they go, they are followed by well failures, air pollution, water contamination and sicknesses in communities. Like cigarettes, regulations don’t make fracking safe!”

Renee warned that the campaign against fracking is not just about science – organisation is essential. Writing, demonstrating, getting a political mandate. We have to create a megaphone of our voices so that we reach every member of the public. The most important aim of the campaign – DO NOT LET FRACKING INTO IRELAND!

The three campaigners were hosted by Good Energies Alliance Ireland, Love Leitrim and Northwest Network Against Fracking during their visit to Ireland.

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