Bill to Ban Fracking in Ireland passes another major legislative hurdle

Friends of the Earth welcome the Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action and the Environment’s decision to pass a Bill which would ban hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas in Ireland.  This marks the ‘third stage’ or ‘committee stage’ debate on this Bill.

The proposed Bill received unanimous support from the Dail late last year, and a public consultation undertaken earlier this year also received overwhelming support with 8,000 submissions received in favour of legislating to ban fracking in Ireland compared to one submission which opposed it.

Kate Ruddock, Deputy Director of Friends of the Earth said

For our land, our health and our climate fracking is not welcome and the passage of this Bill is a testament to the strong public and grassroots opposition to fracking in Ireland.  “

                “A Private Members Bill has rarely progressed as far as this in any previous Dail, and as such it is a great example of how ‘new politics’ is working in Ireland.  However, for this Bill to progress further it now needs a strong statement of support from Government, and a commitment from the Minister that it will be allocated Government time in the Dail and Seanad for its final stages, otherwise it risks lying on a shelf for the foreseeable future.”

Hydraulic Fracturing is a process of extracting oil and gas from the ground where it is held in shale deposits or other tight sandstones as are found across Counties Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Donegal and Clare.  The process has been ongoing in various parts of the US and Europe for many years and there is now a significant body of research demonstrating its negative impact on the environement, water quality and human health [see notes below].  Three companies were granted licences to explore for oil and gas across Ireland with a view to using hydraulic fracturing or fracking to extract it.  This Bill would prevent any such extraction.

Kate Ruddock continued

“We are mindful of Ireland’s commitments in relation to climate change mitigation and a zero carbon energy future.  Ireland is currently way off track and carbon emissions from the energy sector continue to rise.  When this Bill becomes law Ireland will join a number of progressive countries and states that have already banned fracking, including New York, Bulgaria, France, and Victoria (Australia).  ”

The Private Members Bill and Proposed amendments can be viewed on the Oireachtas website at http://www.oireachtas.ie/viewdoc.asp?DocID=33136&&CatID=59

The Oireachtas Committee meeting will take place at 17:30 Tuesday 9th May 2017.

A petition supporting the Bill to ban fracking in Ireland has now been signed by 11, 190 members of the public, which can be viewed here http://www.foe.ie/takeaction/ban-fracking/

The growing body of most recent peer reviewed scientific evidence detailing the impacts of unconventional extraction on public health is collated by the Concerned Health Professionals of New York in the third ‘Compendium of Scientific, Medical and Media research demonstrating risks and harms of fracking’ (November 2016). The Compendium summarises 100 recent studies on the impacts of fracking, and states that the majority of which indicate risks and adverse impacts.  Report accessible here http://concernedhealthny.org/compendium/

Research undertaken on behalf of the Sustainable Water Network SWAN (2016) demonstrates the risks of water contamination related to unconventional extraction activities in Ireland and recommends its prohibition. Report accessible here http://www.swanireland.ie/resources/fracking-report

The US EPA research finds widespread pollution of drinking water and groundwater in fracked areas and finds chemical and waste water spills occur in between 1-10% of fracked wells.  Report accessible here https://www.epa.gov/hfstudy/executive-summary-hydraulic-fracturing-study-final-assessment-2016

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