EPA FRACKING STUDY HAS MAJOR FLAWS

submission-to-hildegarde

Aedín McLoughlin hands Submission to Hildegarde Naughten TD, chairperson of Oireachtas committee

GEAI submission to Oireachtas Committee.

GEAI has made a major submission to the Oireachtas Committee on Environment, Climate Action and Communications on the EPA-commissioned Unconventional Gas Exploration and Extraction (UGEE) Joint Research Programme.  This Study had as its major research question: “Can UGEE be carried out while protecting the environment and human health?”

Conclusions do not reflect findings

We have discovered that the overall summary report did not reflect the findings of the five research reports, which more correctly should have highlighted that:

  • UGEE (fracking) operations globally have major impacts on the environment and on human health, but as human health was not included in the Terms of Reference for the study, the impact of fracking on human health was not included in the study.
  • There are several unknowns around the process of fracking globally and it is not possible to guarantee that hydraulic fracturing can be carried out without contamination of groundwater and air.
  • The hydrogeological profile of the Northwest Carboniferous Basin (mainly Leitrim and Fermanagh) is heavily faulted with deep-seated aquifers and shallow shales, which makes it unsuitable for fracking.

Summary Submission

Full Submission

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Story of Stop the Study Campaign

The Timeline of the Campaign

September: Visit to fracking areas and information from EPA on CDM Smith and AMEC involvement in study .
October: Campaign starts to raise awareness of CDM Smith links with oil/gas industry
November: Rally in front of Leinster House and Presentations to Oireachtas members
December: Joint Oireachtas Committee grills EPA for 3 hours.  Ban Fracking Bill introduced to Dáil Eireann.  Minister McHugh requests interim report
February: Report on Study stalled: Phase 1 to be published Q3 of this year; no decision on Phase 2.

For more detail of the campaign events, CLICK HERE

This was a completely cross-party campaign.

The main Oireachtas player was Sinn Féin TD Michael Colreavy, who put a lot of work into the campaign against fracking from the start and into this campaign in particular. Michael was instrumental in getting us the room in Leinster House, also (with Paschal Mooney) in calling the EPA before the JOC in December. He also ensured that he was briefed properly before each event. Michael was very insistent that the campaign was cross-party.
Fine Gael TD Tony McLoughlin supported the campaign by asking Parliamentary Questions and arranged one meeting with Minister McHugh.
Fianna Fáil Senator Paschal Mooney, also a member of the JOC, was very supportive during the campaign, especially in arranging the presence of EPA at the Meeting in December.
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett grilled the EPA with great effect and introduced a Ban Fracking Bill to the Oireachtas, thus increasing awareness of fracking among the politicians nationally. Clare Daly TD was also effective from the floor of the Dáil.
The Stop the Study Campaign workers acknowledge the support given by all of the above, without which its success could not have been achieved.

The Study has indeed been stopped. Forever? Who knows! Without this campaign, the tenders for on-the-ground monitoring would be awarded by now. But the campaign doesn’t end here. In the Press Release (6th Feb), it was stated that the campaign against fracking is not over, only legislation will prevent fracking from ever coming to Ireland. Our challenge now is to ensure that such legislation is drafted by the next government and gets cross-party support. Let 2016 be the year that Ireland officially bans fracking!

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

OIL/GAS INDUSTRY IS WRITING EPA STUDY ON FRACKING!

A ridiculous situation

As no doubt you are aware, the Irish EPA are coordinating a 2-year Research Study on Fracking in Ireland. This was to be an independent study to advise Government (North and South) on fracking.

It has now eland_1merged that the two main contributors to the study – CDM Smith and Amec Foster Wheeler, are both consultants to the oil and gas industry, and Amec Foster Wheeler is currently a member of the Marcellus Shale Coalition. Two Universities involved, U.C.D and UU, have minor roles and Queen’s University Belfast has pulled out of the research.

This is patently ridiculous. We cannot expect unbiased research from consultancy firms who support fracking operations. The research, instead of “furthering our understanding of the potential impacts on the environment and human health from UGEE projects/operations” (Terms of Reference), is based on how to regulate fracking, rather than whether it is safe and should be allowed at all. Impacts of fracking on public health are not included in the study.
This study is not fit for purpose. The Ministers for Environment and Energy have consistently stated that no decisions will be made on fracking until the research study is “completed and considered”. This is no longer acceptable given the situation that this study is seriously flawed and its independence is questionable, at the very least. We are looking for you to support us in calling for suspension of the study immediately, and a review of the Public Health impacts of fracking to be commissioned, modeled on the study done in New York State.

PUBLIC MEETING

A Public Meeting is being held on Saturday 17th October at 7.30pm in Ballroom of Romance, Glenfarne to discuss the situation. The meeting will be addressed by national and international experts followed by a panel discussion. We hope that you will be able to attend and that you will bring along anyone else who can offer support.

Decisions on fracking in Ireland delayed until after 2016

drilling rigIn 2012, the Government decided that no decisions on granting exploration licences for fracking would be made until a comprehensive research study would be done, coordinated by the EPA. Public consultation on the Terms of Reference of this study was carried out in 2013 and over 1,300 submissions were received by EPA, largely coordinated by GEAI. This delayed the process considerably and the contracts to carry out the 24-months study on the “Environmental Impacts of Unconventional Gas Exploration and Extraction (UGEE)” were only issued last August. It is ironic that this is exactly the same month when Tamboran was stopped from drilling their first borehole in Fermanagh!

Interim reports on the research study will be given, possibly at 6-month intervals and definitely at the end of Year 1 and Year 2. These reports will be given at public events, giving an opportunity for public engagement and discussion. The final outputs of this research will not be published until end 2016. This means that no decisions on fracking can be made in the Republic before 2017.

The consortium that will carry the research is led by the management company CDM Smith Ireland LimitedQueens University BelfastBritish Geological SurveyUniversity College DublinUniversity of Ulster, AMEC, and Philip Lee Solicitors are also part of the consortium.

The 24-month research programme is composed of five interlinked projects and will involve field studies (baseline monitoring of water and seismicity) in Clare, Leitrim and Fermanagh, as well as an extensive desk-based literature review of UGEE practices worldwide. The ‘key questions’ the research programme sets out to answer are:

  • Can UGEE projects/operations be carried out in the island of Ireland whilst also protecting the environment and human health?
  • What is ‘best environmental practice’ in relation to UGEE projects/operations?

The campaign against fracking is, in general, not satisfied with those parameters. The majority of submissions asked for a Health Impact Assessment of proposals for fracking be carried out. This was not agreed and is not included in the final Terms of Reference. Also, the research is too much focussed on the capacity of regulations to limit the impacts of fracking.

However, the study will provide more scientific information on the geology of target sites and potential environmental impacts of fracking in Ireland. 

Fracking in the North 

Carrickfergus201409_07

Despite the delay in the South, fracking projects are still going through the planning process in Northern Ireland.

Tamboran Resources Ltd is seeking a judicial review of the Fermangh licence termination. The case has been listed in Belfast High Court for this month (November). Counsel for Minister Arlene Foster has asserted that an expired licence to carry out exploratory shale gas drilling cannot be reinstated through a legal challenge.

InfraStrata is ready to drill in Woodburn Forest in spring 2015, beside Carrickfergus (Co. Antrim). The company denies the use of fracking on the site because “geology is not suitable”. This means that hydraulic fracturing will not be used in the initial exploration drilling. This statement does not guarantee that fracking will not be used during its entire project. Any on-shore extraction of oil and gas has profound and extensive impacts on the environment and on communities.

Rathlin Energy is also ready to drill in Ballinlea, near the Giant’s Causeway. They have completed their Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and will be submitting that to the Council. They also plan to commence drilling in early 2015.

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