Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Bulgaria the brave!!

On January 18th the Bulgarian Parliament passed a law outlawing hydraulic fracking in the wake of nationwide protests by environmentalists. The law, which came into force on January 24th was passed by a majority of 166-6 votes. Violators face a fine of up to 50m €uros.

Source - BBC News Europe ( 19th January 2012 )

Saturday, 28 January 2012

European Commissioner to pave the way for Super Fracking?

In an article in the Wall Street Journal, the EU Energy Commissioner M. Günther Oettinger, has declared that in view of the findings of a commission set up by Brussels, there is no justification for any change to existing EU controls on shale gas exploration including hydraulic fracking. Many were hopeful that the commission would increase environmental and safety controls. The oil and gas company lobbyists would appear to have been hard at work.

Also just announced by Halliburton is the brand new ‘super –fracking’ technique. It should come as no surprise that super-fracking is just like regular fracking but will be able to do more damage, more quickly, more cheaply from fewer sites. Click for more on Super-Fracking.

In a sane world one would assume that if the French law has banned fracking this would include ‘super-fracking’. But history teaches us to be wary of politicians and industry lobby groups as they have a tendency to produce perverse results. Thus it is quite possible that the EU will say that France’s ban on fracking is fine, but cannot be extended to include super-fracking, or some such nonsense that panders to the immense wealth and influence of the gas companies. Politicians are mainly interested in short-term, election-related solutions, and are under great pressure to put off the difficult decision of finding alternatives to fossil fuels. This is a dangerous combination.

As ever they will only respond if they think it will affect their chances of re-election. This goes for both French and EU politicians. So once again we are asking you to write to them.

The actual message is not as important as the number of people who write to them. Letters and emails should clearly state that you object to the exploitation of shale gas in general, and hydraulic fracturing in particular. You can expand your letter by referring to the need to cut down on fossil fuel use, not find new sources. And how shale gas will reduce the pressure to find effective sources of renewable energy. For more reasons not to go down the shale gas route check out the Dozen Devastating Denials of Shale Gas

Send your emails to EU environmental deputies. Click here for link to Word document with list of their email addresses.

Send letters to:
Monsieur Günther Oettinger
Commissaire European a l’Energie
B – 1049 – BRUXELLES



Madame Connie Hedegaard
Commissaire Européan
A l’Action pour le Climat
Rue Archimede, 73

The wolves are still at the door. It is still up to us to stop them getting in.

Many thanks from all at the Schiste Happens Team

Sunday, 15 January 2012

UMP deputé calls for repeal of Anti-Fracking law

What part of Non! don’t they understand?

A UMP deputé has organised a conference this Tuesday (17th Jan) calling for the repeal of the anti-fracking law. This is the loi Jacob passed last summer which banned fracking in France. François-Michel Gonnot and energy industry lobbyists are attempting to bring pressure to bear on the French government to repeal one of the most popular laws passed in France for decades, and one which was supported by every political party in the country.

Cahors says Non!

Saturday saw demonstrations of support for the anti-fracking law outside government offices all over France. M. Gonnot is of the opinion that the money to be made from fracking is worth the damage it will do to the environment. He stated that he “saw no reason to abstain from exploiting this resource when so many other countries were already benefitting from it.” That so many people were prepared to turn out and re-state their opposition to this damaging technology should make it clear that he is out of tune with the national mood.

So far, of course, these 'other countries' have not benefited at all, as very little gas is actually flowing. Also the estimates of how much gas is under the ground vary wildly. The oil and gas companies always talk them up, but at the same time they are very coy about how much they can actually get out. In short, exploitation could do a lot of irreparable damage for very little gain.

President Sarkozy personally endorsed  the anti-fracking policy when celebrating the granting of Unesco World Heritage status to the Cevennes region. Maybe M Gonnot should ask M Sarkozy, if the run-up to an election, with France’s international credit rating on the slide,  is a good time to put on this display of corporate greed and further alienate the UMP from the vast majority of the French voters.

As we have suggested in the past the battle is not won, the gas companies will keep coming back, we must be prepared to keep telling them that Non! means Non!

For a refresher on the main objections to gaz de schiste and hydraulic fracturing click here: (A Dozen Devastating Denials of Gaz de Schiste)

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Wastewater issues +Fracking hits SE England!

Two new items which give perspective in this matter...

First, from this week's European edition of Time Magazine:-

'Ohio Earthquakes'
 After a 4.0 earthquake shook Youngstown, Ohio on December 31st - the second in a week and the 11th in the area since March - even state authorities had to wonder whether the local boom in natural gas fracking wells could be to blame. Fracking, a process in which water is blasted underground to break rocks and release methane gas, has helped revive rural economies from Ohio to New England. BUT, wastewater is often injected deep underground afterwards, leading, some scientists believe, to tremblors, once rare in Ohio. For now, state officials have shut one particularly active waste well for analysis.

Second from the Guardian:-

'Fracking company chief (Cuadrilla) to face critics in south-east England'

Chief Executive of Cuadrilla, which drilled for shale gas near Blackpool, is to meet residents opposed to fracking in Sussex. Now the sparks should fly! See link:


Naturally, we will continue to keep you informed of events in France up to and beyond the Presidential elections but in the meantime if you have anything of interest please do contact the team directly via this site. Once again, we would encourage you to join the debate by signing in and making comment on this or any other articles.

Finally, those who read and enjoy the magazine Le Forty Six will be able to read an update by one of our team in the next issue to be published on 15th February.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

New Fracking worries: Methane Leaks and Radioactive Water!

We note with little surprise, but some concern an article by Linda Marsa in the international journal 'Year in Science 2011' containing confirmations of methane leaks and now Radioactive Water at fracking locations in the USA. Extracts are printed below.........

' The drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, came under renewed pressure this past year. Fracking makes it possible to tap into vast domestic reserves of low-carbon natural gas, but the process, which uses sand, chemicals, and millions of gallons of water to free gas trapped inside dense rock,has sparked environmental questions. New evidence bolsters those concerns.

Drinking water samples from 68 wells in Pennsylvania and New York were contaminated with excess methane, according to a report published last May in the ' Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences'. The study, led by environmental chemist Robert Jackson of Duke University, was the first to find a conclusive link between fracking and groundwater pollution. The closer the wells were to the drill site, the higher the methane concentrations, some of which were above the level that raises alarm at the Department of the Interior. Subsequent tests of more than 100 additional wells confirmed the findings, says Jackson, who thinks the most probable culprit is faulty construction of the gas wells. Compounding concerns, reports from the Environmental Protection Agency leaked earlier in the year indicated that the fracking wastewater is too radioactive to be handled safely by water treatment plants.'

The report underlines ongoing concerns that should fracking come to pass in this region in particular, so many things that we all hold dear ( wine production, heritage sites, food production etc., ) will be at risk. Should our 'friends' in the oil and gas industry have their way following the forthcoming elections (and they show absolutely no sign of backing off ) there is every reason to believe that the American experience could be replicated here. Given that over 1 billion litres of water were deployed at the 'Blackpool' site in the UK prior to temporary cessation and this in the face of acknowledged semi-drought conditions, one can only wonder at the wisdom of politicians.