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.

 

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.

Victory! “No plans” for Fracking Study Monitoring

blogTenders are not being issued

Our Stop the Study campaign has had an impact!  Tenders for contractors to set up monitoring stations in Fermanagh, Leitrim and Clare and do air, water and ground monitoring for 12 months have not been issued.  And this week we learned from Senator Paschal Mooney, who asked the question of the EPA, that “there are no plans to initiate this process at the moment”.

We are really delighted with this news. Basically it stops the Research Study in its tracks.  The September progress report indicated that most of the desk research is “nearly complete” and what remains is the study of the local terrain and its suitability for fracking.  Without such monitoring, the study can’t be finished and therefore is worthless.11-06-2015_Demonstration.Dublin.Leinster.House (34)

However, the campaign is not over yet. 

On 2nd December the EPA comes before the Joint Oireachtas Committee to answer questions arising from our findings concerning the study and its take-over by companies heavily involved in the oil and gas industry.  Even since our Rally on 5th November, further findings have come to light regarding the tendering process for the  entire study.  Truly a can of worms!  It is horrifying to discover that the industry were involved in the study process from the start.  From the drafting of the terms of reference to the tendering and contract process, the industry had their grubby fingerprints all over it.

We will not let them get away with it!  North and South, Ireland is showing that campaigning can and does work.  Especially when combined with the multiple approaches we are using:

  • Research
  • Social media
  • Freedom of information requests
  • Political lobbying
  • Meetings
  • Rallies and demonstrations
  • Celebrity endorsements (Thank you, Mark Ruffalo!)

This takes hard and dedicated work but is a powerful combination that will not let the oil and gas industry desecrate this lovely land of ours.

STOP THE STUDY!

 

November the 5th: “Groundswell Rising” documentary showing in Dublin

The day of Stop the Study campaign was finished with the showing of documentary movie about fracking “Groundswell Rising”, organized by Young Friends of the Earth, the movie session was held in the basement of Sweeneys Pub in Dublin.

The documentary made by American anti-fracking organisations, presents the negative and very dangerous effects of fracking. Neighbouring populations of fracking installation endure plenty of consequences: noises, water pollution, destruction of biodiversity, etc. Was the perfect occasion to show present people what can happen also in Ireland. Nobody would like that here. Stop the Study campaign takes on its full meaning.

The main idea of the movie was about the harm that oil and gas industry brought to USA. Also, it was described, step by step, that high level officials were the participants of the process including representatives from the Department of the US who influenced on the regulations and laws connected to the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act during George W. Bush administration.

Aedín's presentation

Aedín’s presentation

The State influenced the decision makers on the legislative process and the people who were against the fracking, especially, in Pennsylvania and New York State. Like with the Study, the compromise between public responsible and hydrocarbon companies have great consequences.

Groundswell rising is about how a campaign can move from a few people around a table to thousands of people demonstrating on the streets and influencing political decisions.

After the movie session, Aedín McLoughlin made the presentation “EPA Study on Fracking: A Compromised Process” and answered the questions from the public present in the pub.

People were interested in the major role being played in the EPA research study CDM Smith and Amec, consultants to the oil and gas industry. This study is discredited because it is not independent. Also, there is no public participation. Why the secrecy? People seem to take it very personally. And they are right! It’s their country!

Their main concerns were how they can make a difference and raise this problem to their politicians.

To see the documentary:

http://www.groundswellrising.com/

Us, the EVS volunteers, after a very long day and our first campaign, ended the night in the pub by taking artistic pictures!

Stop the Study Rally and Presentations

11-06-2015_Demonstration.Dublin.Leinster.House (34)
An amazing day! 

It started off at 12.30 with a Rally outside Leinster House that was attended by members of over 20 organisations, all with placards, banners and home-made signs.   The message was made loud and clear:  We want the discredited EPA study on fracking STOPPED and we want No Fracking in Ireland!  Attendees included people from all over Ireland – Dublin, Clare, Sligo Wexford, Leitrim and Fermanagh.  FRACKING IS A NATIONAL ISSUE!

Stop the Study Leaflet – feel free to download and print.    Leaflet Outside     Leaflet Inside

VIDEO OF THE DAY:  Many thanks to Just Multimedia for their excellent edit and speedy production!

Meeting Public Representatives in Leinster House

Aedin speaking 051115At 1.30, campaigners made presentations to a packed gallery, including TDs, Senators and MEP.

Aedín McLoughlin made the first presentation titled: “EPA Study on Fracking: A Compromised Process”.  Her main points were:

  • This study does not explore policy on fracking; it is focussed on the process of allowing fracking in Ireland.
  • The study is controlled by the oil and gas industry, who are carrying out the bulk of the work and writing it up.
  • Health impacts are not included in the study, instead they are looking at the role of HIA in regulation (Health Impact Assessment)
  • Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), who were to guarantee the independence of the study, opted out of the research team before it started; yet the Oireachtas and Minister were informed that QUB were an integral member of the consortium.  This study is NOT independent.

Download the presentation: Oireachtas presentation 051115

Accompanying document: EPA study progress report September 2015

Briefing document for TDs:  Briefing Document 051115

Tom White (Love Leitrim) gave a presentation on the situation in Northern Ireland, where the Minister announced new controls on applications for extraction of hydrocarbons that included fracking.  There is a presumption against fracking “until it can be proved that it can be done safely”.  This is NOT A BAN.  Exploration can proceed, boreholes can be drilled and flared, huge quantities of water and chemicals can be used.

Rally 5Oisín Coghlan (Friends of the Earth) widened the subject of debate.  He spoke about climate change and the necessity to reduce our carbon emissions.  Friends of the Earth want fracking to be banned in Ireland.  There will be a big climate march in Dublin on 29th November; the campaign against fracking is an important aspect of this movement and he expects to see this campaign featuring prominently at the march.

Eamon Ryan (The Green Party) said that Ireland does not need fracking!  At present, and for the foreseeable future, there is no question of energy security as far as gas is concerned.  Europe has established pipelines and new sources of gas that ensures our supply.  We need to focus on renewable energies, especially in the generation of electricity, and to lower our carbon emissions by being smart.  The people at the core of policy-making still think that renewable energies are more expensive than fossil fuels.  We have to change their mindsets and make them realise that WE DO NOT NEED TO FRACK!

More information on the Stop the Study Campaign HERE

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