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Sep 20, 2012

Friends of the Earth Europe: Shale gas: unconventional and unwanted

by Denis Burke — last modified Sep 20, 2012 11:52 AM

New report highlights dangers of unconventional fuel to environment and health

Brussels, September 20 – Europe risks side-lining its vision for a more sustainable, low-carbon energy future, according to a new report from Friends of the Earth Europe [1], unless it permanently closes its doors to unconventional and unwanted fossil fuels like shale gas [2].

In the week of two European parliamentary votes on shale gas [3], the report, ‘Unconventional and unwanted’ says that shale gas could lock Europe into continued dependency on fossil fuels, at the expense of renewable energy, energy savings and significant reductions in climate-changing emissions.

Increasing evidence shows ‘fracking’, the process used to extract shale gas, is an unambiguously high-risk activity that threatens human health and the wider environment. The high risk of water contamination, and air pollution with hazardous chemicals, are both recognised in a recent European Commission study [4].

Antoine Simon, shale gas campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: “Fossil fuels like shale gas are unconventional and unwanted – they threaten the health of local communities, and the environment. They also threaten to lock Europe into fossil fuel dependency, side-lining renewable energy developments, energy savings and Europe’s commitment to a low-carbon future."

The environmental impacts of shale gas and other unconventional fuels (such as coal bed methane) are being underplayed in the debate on Europe’s energy future [5], and rely upon unproven technologies like Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), and gaps in current European legislation to make them attractive to investors and decision makers, the report finds.

Local opposition to the threat of shale gas continues across Europe, with a global day of action against fracking this Saturday (September 22) [6]. Bans on fracking are already in place in France and Bulgaria, and there are moratoria in regions of Germany and Czech Republic, and in the Netherlands.

Antoine Simon continued: “Concerned communities and organisations across Europe are taking action against shale gas development. People see what’s happening in the US and don’t want to see the same dangerous experiment on health and the environment conducted in Europe.”

Friends of the Earth Europe is campaigning for European member states to suspend on-going activities, retract permits, and place bans on any new projects, whether exploration or exploitation. Europe must embrace a low-carbon energy model, based on renewable energy and improved energy savings – the only genuine path towards an environmentally sustainable and healthy future.

‘Unconventional and unwanted: the case against shale gas’ is available to download here:
http://www.foeeurope.org/foee-unconventional-and-unwanted-the-case-against-shale-gas-sept2012

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For more information please contact:

Antoine Simon, shale gas campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe,
Tel: +32 (0) 2 893 10 18, Mob: +32 (0) 486 685 664, email: antoine.simon@foeeurope.org

Sam Fleet, communications officer, Friends of the Earth Europe, (EN)
Tel: +32 (0) 2893 1012, Mob: +32 (0) 470 072 049, samuel.fleet@foeeurope.org

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NOTES:


[1] http://www.foeeurope.org/foee-unconventional-and-unwanted-the-case-against-shale-gas-sept2012

[2] Shale gas is a form of unconventional gas found in shale reservoirs. To extract the gas a process known as hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking', is required. Fracking involves the injection of millions of litres of water, sand and chemicals – known as 'fracking fluid' – into the shale reservoir, at high pressure, to fracture the rock and release the gas.

[3] Two European Parliament committees – working on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) and Environment (ENVI) – voted this week on their respective reports on the impacts of shale gas development in Europe. The outcomes of the votes are ambiguous: on the one hand recognising the serious risks shale gas poses to health and the environment while still promoting it as “necessary fuel for our energy security”.

Friends of the Earth Europe’s reaction to the vote on the ITRE Report, September 18th:
http://www.foeeurope.org/shale-gas-risks-side-lined-by-industry-interests-180912

[4] The DG Environment risk assessment of shale gas operations can be found here:http://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/energy/pdf/fracking%20study.pdf

[5] A short video from the European Greens, in collaboration with Fiends of the Earth Europe, explaining the environmental and health impacts of shale gas: http://bit.ly/ban_fracking

[6] Friends of the Earth groups in France, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland will organise events this Saturday, September 22nd, as part of Global Frackdown day. For more information: http://www.globalfrackdown.org/

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