“We Deserve Better” all-Ireland Campaign

Stop Drilling and Fracking in Fermanagh! 
Email the First Minister and Deputy First Minister IMMEDIATELY.
The following text is suggested:

I call upon the Northern Ireland Executive to impose a suspension of the licensing process and all drilling or fracking associated with unconventional gas exploration in Northern Ireland in line with the Government of the Irish Republic, who are refusing to issue Exploration Licenses until the EPA all-Ireland Research Studies on the Environmental Impacts of Unconventional Gas Exploration and Extraction are completed and considered.

Email it to:
Peter Robinson: peter.robinson@mla.niassembly.gov.uk
Martin McGuinness: martin.mcguinness@mla.niassembly.gov.uk

contaminated ground
  • The new EPA-directed research study “The Environmental Impacts of Unconventional Gas Exploration and Extraction (UGEE)” is a North-South initiative.  The Steering Committee includes representatives from the Geological Survey NI, DOE (Department of Environment) and DETI (Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment).  As well as representatives from Geological Survey of Ireland, Petroleum Affairs Division, Department of Energy and Dept. of Environment.
  • Over 1,300 submissions on the draft Terms of Reference for this study were received by the EPA; 600 of these came from Northern Ireland, showing the concern of the NI people.
  • In the Republic, the Minister for Energy, Pat Rabbitte, has confirmed that no Exploratory Licences, which allow drilling and fracking, will be issued until this study is completed and considered (probably 2015).  He has said many times that more research needs to be done to establish the safety of fracking, especially in relation to public health.
  • People in Northern Ireland are not being given the same protection!  DETI has issued an exploration licence for Fermanagh which incorporates a work programme, including drilling and fracking.  The Northern Ireland Government has refused to state that it will wait until the research is completed before allowing drilling and fracking.
  • Tamboran are planning to commence drilling in Fermanagh this year!
It is NOT OK to put the people of Northern Ireland at risk!
The people of Northern Ireland are entitled to the same protection as people in the South
The exploratory work programme must be stopped!

Email the Ministers!  Lets have 5,000 emails in their inboxes this week and show our strength!
And follow this up with emails to all other politicians!

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.

[Press release] EPA report on fracking “just a whitewash”?

Wikimedia cc (A. F. Borchert)

Lough Allen, Spencer Harbour.   Wikimedia cc (A. F. Borchert)

Options Licences have been granted to three oil/gas companies to study the potential for shale gas exploitation in the Northwest and Clare.  Now the Government is commissioning a report by the EPA on the safety of the technology of hydraulic fracturing, which will be completed in 2014.  Minister Rabbitte says that no hydraulic fracturing will be allowed until after this report is delivered and considered.
EXPLORATION LICENCES COULD STILL BE GRANTED.  In the North, four exploration licences have been granted already.  The only one that specifically allows fracking is the Tamboran licence.  The others do not allow fracking.  Similar exploration licences could be granted to the three exploration companies if they apply for licences by 28th February.  This matter is therefore URGENT.
A possible scenario is that such licences will be given, mining pads will be constructed and deep drilling will commence, possibly as early as next year. After the EPA report, applications could then be made for fracking. If this happens, there is little chance that fracking will be forbidden – the commercial viability of any well cannot be established without hydraulic fracturing. The granting of exploration licences is therefore in effect the granting of permission to frack.
There is a common perception that an exploration licence automatically follows the licencing options that have already been granted. This is not true! The licencing options given to Tamboran, LangCo and Enegi Oil include the following Condition:
If the Company applies, on or before the expiry date of this Licensing Option, to licence all or part of the area reserved by way of this Option, the Minister will be prepared to consider the granting of a follow-up authorisation (an Exploration Licence) to the Company covering an area to be agreed with the Minister having regard to the work programme proposed by the Company.’
The Minister is therefore under no obligation to grant exploration licences at any time. Neither is he liable for compensation claims. The decision to grant exploration licences is therefore a political decision, not a commercial or legal requirement.
So – why will the Minister not state that NO Exploration Licences will be issued before the new EPA report is completed and considered?
Has the deal been done already and is the EPA report just a whitewash?


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