Soft recommendations, but no rules for fracking…

In retreat from its initial position and disregarding the European Parliament’s vote for the inclusion of shale gas operations under mandatory EIA rules (CrisisWatch 21), the European Commission will only be proposing a set of ‘soft’ recommendations for this environmentally hazardous hydrocarbon extraction technique.

 At present, EU legislation on environmental impact assessment applies to natural gas extraction of at least 500,000 m3 daily. Given that shale gas is trapped in rock formations, most extractive operations result in much smaller daily quantities. Hence, fracking operations in many member states would fall out of the scope of the environmental impact assessment legislation.

According to a 2011 report by the European Commission’s DG for Internal Policies, “existing  mining  laws  in  Europe  and  related  regulations  affecting  mining  activities  do  not take  care  of  the  specific  aspects  of  hydraulic  fracturing.  There  are  major  differences between  mining  related  regulations  in  European  Member  States.  In  many  cases,  mining rights are privileged over citizens’ rights, and local political authorities ofen do not have an influence  on  possible  projects  or  mining  sites  as  these  are  granted  by  national  or  state governments and their authorities.” 

The obsession of many crisis-stricken EU states with oil and gas is in many cases resulting in undermining the legislation in place. In Italy, the Ministry for Economic Development is in the process of transposing the Directive on safety of offshore oil and gas operations (2013/30/EU), but ignores the requirement for independence of the competent authority  from “policies, regulatory decisions or other considerations unrelated to its duties under this Directive” (art. 9). According to WWF Italy, the only suitable entity to undertake this important duty is the Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale (ISPRA).

Sources: WWF EUEuractivEuropean Parliament.

Last modified onSaturday, 03 January 2015 13:55
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