FG TD introduces Ban on Fracking Bill

Tony McLoughlin TD has begun process of developing new legislation

11169407_399929890204803_4742650247145535238_oIn response to the “very worrying developments occurring in Northern Ireland with regard to fracking”, Tony McLoughlin is to submit a Private Members Bill to the Dáil which seeks to prohibit onshore fracking.

Press Release

Fine Gael T.D. for Sligo – Leitrim Tony McLoughlin has begun the process of developing new legislation which he hopes will result in the prohibiting of the exploration and extraction of petroleum from shale rock, tight sands and coal seams in the Irish onshore and Ireland’s internal waters.

“As a T.D. for counties which would be decimated if fracking was allowed to occur, I want to see action on this issue by the new Government” stated McLoughlin.

“The decision process with relation to formulating Government policy on fracking has gone on too long in my opinion and we now are in a position where we need to take action on the issue”.

“There is clear evidence already in the public domain about the damaging effects of this practice of extraction”. “We are also aware that the basin in Ireland is too shallow for it to be conducted safely and without damage to the environment”.

“Several Common Law Jurisdictions, similar to our own, have already taken legislative steps to ban the practice”. “I now want Ireland and this Government to follow this international trend and quickly”.

“There are some very worrying developments occurring in Northern Ireland with regard to fracking, which both Sinn Féin or the DUP have not been able to prevent”. “I do not want to see a similar situation occur in this State”.

“With regard to the Private Members Bill I am submitting, I have received technical advice as to the wording of this Bill from experts in the field, which will hopefully enable it to pass through the pre-legislative scrutiny element very quickly”.

“I have also wrote to the new Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources, Denis Naughton T.D. to suggest to him to consider implementing this legislation which would prohibiting fracking from occurring in the Republic of Ireland.”

DRILLING IN WOODBURN FOREST

They have started to drill!

Infrastrata announced on Tuesday that they have started to drill the well in Woodburn Forest, north of Belfast.  The site is 400 metres from water reservoirs serving Belfast homes.  The well will go down more than 6,000 feet and will explore for oil and gas. The drilling will continue for six weeks. This is a sad day for all the campaigners who have worked so hard to keep drilling out of Northern Ireland.

Woodburn Forest drill

The finger now must be pointed at those politicians who are doing nothing to stop this drill. It is totally disgraceful that such a huge operation could commence without an Environmental Impact Statement or, indeed, proper planning permission. Why was the loophole of “permitted development” not plugged long ago? Shame on you all!

In particular, the silence from Sinn Féin is deafening.  Having canvassed saying that getting a ban on fracking is their Number 1 priority, there is no statement from them, no action from them, no presence of them.  If this is the kind of (in)action we can expect from our politicians, God help the people of Northern Ireland!  Once fracking starts, nothing will stop it.

Mark Ruffalo Calls on Minister Durkan to Stop the Drill

mrfrack750Press Release from Water Defense

Actor Mark Ruffalo has joined the chorus of voices demanding that Minister Mark Durkan stops the drilling at North Woodburn Reservoir with the risk of poisoning Belfast’s water supplies.  The situation is very grave – Infrastrata personnel have come on the land in Woodburn Forest with chain saws and are clearing the area targeted for drilling. Their operation is unlawful, without Environmental Impact Statement, without waste management plan, without proper permits.  It is time that the Minister acts!  This can’t be allowed to continue.

Actor and clean water advocate Mark Ruffalo, founder of Water Defense, and the organization’s Chief Technology Officer & Investigator, Scott Smith, sent a letter to Minister Durkan after Water Defense was contacted by local residents and organizations in Northern Ireland concerned about their water being contaminated by the drilling. Minister Durkan’s government is poised to allow unconventional oil and gas extraction with toxic chemicals 350 metres from the North Woodburn Water Reservoir that is the drinking water source for 131,000 people, including Belfast City centre. The unconventional drilling method is not safe and threatens the water supply, people’s health, and the environment.

Water Defense is a non-profit organization based in the United States that has traveled around the world testing water, educating people about toxic chemicals and pathways of contamination, and advocating for people’s right to clean drinking water. After local residents in Northern Ireland contacted the organization, Water Defense became very concerned about the ramifications of extreme drilling with toxic chemicals next to the reservoir and wrote a letter to Minister Durkan, copying other officials.

The letter notes, “It is also troubling that your Department, whose responsibility is for the Environment, is not intervening to stop this activity that appears to be unlawful given the fact that a Waste Management Plan (The Planning of Management of Waste from Extractive Industries 2015) was required before permitted development was granted and that environmental considerations have not been adequately assessed. It is extraordinary that on this sensitive site there has been no public scrutiny through the planning process and there has been no Environmental Impact Assessment.”

The letter also notes that Distinguished Professor Anthony Ingraffea, a renowned expert on unconventional drilling from the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department at Cornell University, has called it ‘irrational’ for the dangerous drilling to go forward on this particular land.  It points to the fact that some of the chemicals that would be used are carcinogenic, such asBiocide T, and can cause harm to unborn children.

The letter concludes, “We implore you to protect your citizens by protecting their water. The small amount of oil and gas that can be extracted from that site pales in comparison to the nightmare that contaminating the water supply for over 131,000 residents in your community would cause.”

Water Defense is also sending water testing kits to local residents and organizations including Friends of Earth Northern Ireland and Stop the Drill campaign, and will be in communication with them to perform water tests.

For the full letter :Water Defense letter to Northern Ireland

EVS Volunteers at Hustings debate

Saturday 13th February GEAI attended a political debate organised by Love Leitrim. It was an opportunity for Sligo/Leitrim Constituency’s candidates to express their position on fracking. The Irish General election will take place in two weeks and the electorate hopes for an engagement from candidates to ban hydraulic fracturing once elected.

GEAI members was accompanied by three EVS volunteers: Olga, Lisandra and Cédric. A perfect occasion for them to follow the electoral campaign.

With this Election and the Vote Frack Free campaign I started my EVS in a very interesting time. Saturday’s meeting was amazing and now I follow its impact during this campaign” declared Lisandra. “It was my first time to a political debate in Ireland and it was a great opportunity for me. Last year in Azores I was a member of a political party and Saturday I could compare the Irish political system with the Portuguese”.

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Cédric, Olga, Lisandra and Aedin

 

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

Belcoo_fracking-ireland-campaign-risks.si

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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