Blog Posts: Fracking

October 9th, 2015

Hard To Keep Up. Get the Latest on the #GlobalFrackdown and More.

By Geert Decock

Global Frackdown to ParisHere I am, busily preparing for the Global Frackdown. We are planning a delivery action of our awesome sign-on letter in Brussels to our elected officials, preparing a global gathering of anti-fracking activists during the climate summit in Paris (stay tuned for more details), and generally keeping up with the latest developments on shale gas in Brussels.

For example, we officially launched our latest report ‘Fracking Business (As Usual)’ last week, which clearly demonstrates how the European Commission’s soft-touch approach of the fracking industry is failing to protect the environment and health of European citizens. For starters, its ‘Recommendation’ on fracking, issued almost two years ago, is non-binding. The Recommendation is also quite vague on a number of crucial issues such as the chemicals used in fracking and the way fracking wastewater will be treated. Our report also details how the European Union institutions rely e.g. mainly on industry operators to establish a baseline on key environmental parameters. Needless to say that appealing to the better nature of Big Oil and Gas and pro-fracking governments of Poland and the UK has not made any difference on the ground.

Read the full article…

September 28th, 2015

Fracking in Romania: Gone, but Hardly Forgotten

By Marina Stefan, Romanian Anti-Fracking Activist

Food & Water Europe Romania FrackdownIn February 2015, oil and gas industry giant Chevron announced that they were suspending plans to begin fracking in Romania. But the fight for a ban on fracking in the country is far from over. Romanian anti-fracking activist Marina Stefan shares an update on the state of shale gas exploration in her country and what the future of drilling in Romania could look like.

New Players, New Fracking Permits

Despite Chevron’s retreat from fracking in Romania this past February, there is still an interest from the corporation and others to pursue the exploitation of our country’s natural resources. The ANRM (National Authority for Mineral Resources) has issued at least 16 permits for the exploration of shale gas to Chevron, NIS-Gazprom, MOL-Hungary, East West Petroleum, Clara Petroleum, Universal Premium and ADX.

Read the full article…

September 22nd, 2015

How Far Will Cameron Push Fracking?

By Eve Mitchell

Ban FrackingPlanning just got sexy.

Well, ok, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but planning just took centre stage in the fight against fracking in the UK, so we need to sit up and do something about it.

I normally talk about food (cloning and GM crops and such), but I live in the UK, and I’m worried about fracking. Just when the rest of Europe is figuring out that it doesn’t work economically, the UK charges full steam ahead. Why we are risking our countryside, our farming (with its billions in food exports) and who knows what else on such a bad deal I don’t know.

Read the full article…

August 19th, 2015

Fracking and Europe: Shale Fail & Preparing for The 2015 Global Frackdown to Paris

Post Summer Wrap-up on Fracking in Europe

By Geert Decock

Global Frackdown to ParisDid you go ‘unplugged’ this summer, when you were walking in the mountains or hitting the beaches? Were you not checking the World Wide Web for the latest news on fracking, shale gas, unconventional oil and gas?

Not to worry, this blog will catch you up in no time.

The summer of 2015 was barely underway when the Dutch government decided that there will be no commercial shale exploration before 2020. The Dutch government first wants to get a clearer view on the transition of the Netherlands to a zero-carbon energy mix. Once the post-2020 energy mix of the Netherlands is better understood, a decision will be made whether the moratorium on shale gas continues. In any case, the licences that had been awarded to the exploration company Cuadrilla were cancelled.

Read the full article…

February 23rd, 2015

Fracking Scorecard: Shale Gas In Retreat In The European Union

By Geert Decock 

Which country will stand against fracking next?

France. Belgium. Scotland. Wales. We’ve got a slew of wins against fracking to acknowledge and celebrate. But we cannot rest on our laurels. The profiteers are working to keep their dirty and dangerous fracking operations active and they will continue to do so until we work together to make sure there is a complete ban in Europe and beyond!

Those of us following the debate on fracking in Europe are probably aware that France and Bulgaria already banned fracking, in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Big Oil & Gas has challenged these bans, even all the way up to the Constitutional Court in France. But these bans on fracking are still standing. This is a testament to how strong public opinion rejects fracking for shale gas. So far, no other Member State has moved to also ban fracking in their national law.

However, that does not necessarily mean that shale gas is advancing elsewhere. Quite the contrary: Over the few months, a slew of new moratoriums on fracking has come in effect. It started in the summer of 2014, when the regional Flemish government decided that – in the absence of some minimal rules and administrative capacity on fracking – there would be a moratorium for the exploration and production of fossil fuels that require fracking. In December 2014, the Dutch Parliament also voted in favour of another extension of an earlier moratorium, at least until the end of the current government of Prime Minister Rutte. This means that there may be no fracking in the Netherlands until mid-2017. Read the full article…

September 16th, 2014

Keep Calm and Ban Fracking: Shale Gas in the UK

By Geert Decock

A view of the South Downs in from Devil's Dyke in southern England. CC by SA©IngerAlHaosului/commons.wikipedia.org

A view of the South Downs in from Devil’s Dyke in southern England. CC by SA(c) IngerAlHaosului/commons.wikipedia.org.

OK, I admit: I had never before heard about the South Downs National Park in England. However, last week, I learned that the planning committee of the park had voted unanimously to turn down an application by shale gas explorer, Celtique Energie, to start drilling and maybe fracking at Fernhurst, a two hour drive south of London. A couple of hours later, I can call myself a South Downs fan. Yes, I want to go on holiday there. Except maybe for blue sky and warm temperatures, the South Downs has lots to offer. Wikipedia informs me that the South Downs has “a rich heritage of historical features and archaeological remains, including defensive sites, burial mounds and field boundaries”. Within the park, there are 37 “Sites of Special Scientific Interest”, protecting the very little that remains of the old chalk grassland. Needless to say, South Downs is a “popular recreational destination, particularly for walkers, horse riders and mountain bikers”. And by drilling and fracking in such an area of outstanding beauty, UK shale gas explorers hope to win the hearts and minds of locals and public opinion more generally? How out of touch can you be? A recent report of the federal environment agency of Germany (covered in our previous blog post) details what is required to extract shale gas from an area of 260 square kilometers (about 16 by 16 kilometers) over a period of 10 years.

  • 144 well pads (one per every 2 square kilometers!)
  • 864-1440 wells (assuming 6-10 horizontal drills /pad)
  • 12.000-48.000 truck movements per well

Despite these facts, the CEO of Celtique has the temerity to state that his application “has been refused on subjective and unjustified grounds”. What is more likely to be the case, is that the planning committee analysed the existing pressures on their national park from agriculture, traffic and housing development and drew the common sense conclusion that adding fracking to the mix simply was not going to work. Despite all this, the UK government’s energy strategy continues to be “going all out for shale”, stressed Prime Minister Cameron. The efforts of shale enthusiasts like David Cameron (but also other mainstream political parties) will continue to fight a losing battle, as people get better informed about shale gas and fracking. In the latest licencing round, almost 60 percent of the UK territory was offered to shale gas explorers to start drilling for shale gas. It should not come as a surprise that new groups are popping up like mushrooms in areas singled out for shale gas drilling. Some of the most vocal groups are Residents Action on Fylde Fracking in the Blackpool area or the Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association, where exploratory drilling was halted last summer due to protests. They are not only determined to stop this terrible development, but they are well organized. Just take a look at all the resources available on the website of a grassroots campaign like Frack Off. This summer, the No Dash for Gas campaign hosted a “Reclaim the power” anti-fracking action camp. And they have the support from larger groups like Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. The combination of a vibrant and growing anti-fracking movement with the non-stop PR disasters committed by shale gas explorers and the UK government will mean that their shale gas strategy will slowly but surely grind to a halt. With more than half of the UK territory now licensed for shale gas and oil exploration, anti-fracking groups in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland will be at the forefront of the campaign to ban fracking. On October 11, the Global Frackdown – an international day of action against fracking – will offer a great opportunity to express our solidarity with those communities in the UK under siege from the shale gas industry and its political supporters. Join us on October 11 for the Global Frackdown: http://www.globalfrackdown.org/.

August 6th, 2014

Germany’s Environment Agency Calls for an End to Fracking

By Geert Decock

Fracking rig and wastewater pit

How far do you need to sit from the halls of power to not be influenced by constant lobbying and spin from Big Oil & Gas? The correct answer may be surprising: 1.5 hours exactly. How so? That is how long it takes to drive from the office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in central Berlin to the Federal Environment Agency of Germany in Desslau-Rosslau, southwest of Berlin.

Just last week, the Federal Environment Agency released a 600+ page report giving a detailed outline of the many risks involved in fracking. This research led its president Maria Krautzberger to this conclusion (translated from German): “Fracking is and remains a risky technology and therefore requires considerable limits to protect the environment and health. As long as the significant risks involved in this technology cannot yet be predicted with certainty and controlled, there should be no fracking in Germany to extract shale gas and coalbed methane.”

Her warning stands in sharp contrast with the approach of other European governments, e.g. in the UK and Poland, who have put large swaths of their territory up for grabs for shale gas exploration companies. Given the serious water-related risks of fracking, the German Federal Environment Agency states clearly that a lot of areas should be exempted from fracking: drinking water protection zones, spa areas, nature reserves and the catchment areas of lakes and reservoirs.

The report of the Federal Environment Agency also clearly confirms something that anti-fracking campaigners have been saying for years, namely that the treatment of the flowback from shale gas wells remains an unresolved issue. (Flowback is the liquid that flows back to the surface when a well is fracked.) The flowback contains heavy metals and aromatic hydrocarbons like benzene. Sometimes, radioactive materials can also flow to the surface. Again, president Maria Krautzberger: “No company has been able to offer a concept for the sustainable water treatment of flowback from fracking operations”.

What about industry’s oft repeated talking point that natural gas can be a transition fuel to a zero-carbon power generation? Again, the German Federal Environment Agency begs to differ with those who link shale gas and the fight against climate change: “The fracking technology is not a miracle cure for climate protection that can make the transition to renewable energies easier. It would be better, if our country would concentrate on forms of energy that are demonstrably better for the environment, such as renewable energies”.

The Germans are well known for their ‘Gründlichkeit’, or thoroughness. If their environment agency makes such strong claims about the risks of fracking after a couple of years of research, we better take their findings seriously!

September 17th, 2012

Video: Global Frackdown, September 22, 2012

By Mark Schlosberg

The Global Frackdown will unite people on five continents in over 100 events on September 22 to call for a ban on fracking in their communities, and to advocate for the development of clean, sustainable energy solutions. Initiated by Food & Water Watch, over 150 consumer, environmental and public health organizations including CREDO Action, Environment America, Democracy for America, Friends of the Earth and 350.org are taking part in the Global Frackdown.

Endorse the Global Frackdown.

Don’t forget to check out the frackdown on Facebook and Twitter.

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