Just One Vote Short!

Quick newsflash! Some Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) were given the opportunity to take a clear stance on fracking on May 7

By Geert Decock

FoodandWaterEuropeOneVoteShortBanFrackingQuick newsflash! Some Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) were given the opportunity to take a clear stance on fracking on May 7. They could vote in favour or against an amendment (nr 366) that called for an immediate moratorium on fracking in the EU, urging Member States not to authorise any new unconventional hydraulic fracturing operations in the EU. We are thrilled to report that – of the 60 Members of the Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy Committee – half of them (30!) voted in favour of this amendment.

This is the closest that the movement to stop fracking has ever come to getting (part of) an institution of the European Union endorsing a moratorium, and shows that political support for fracking and shale gas in the European Parliament is crumbling. And this is the Parliament’s Industry committee, which is usually in favour of ‘business’ – and by business, we mean Big Business like Big Oil & Gas.

The vote happened after months of debate about the 800 amendments that were introduced to change the initial draft report of centre-right MEP Algirdas Saudargas. There were so many amendments, because Mr Saudargas had written a report that was very vague on a lot of issues. Make no mistake, however; this vagueness works very much in favour of the status quo and the well-established industries, such as large utilities, oil and gas companies and the nuclear sector, among others. One section of the report stressed that a long-term strategy for developing indigenous energy sources should be further promoted in the EU; another noted that any energy source that might contribute to energy security in the Union should be taken into account and developed in full compliance with environmental requirements.

Renewables are included in “indigenous energy sources”. But so are coal, oil and gas. The introduction of the term “indigenous energy sources” is a trick by Big Oil & Gas to shift the focus away from renewables and frame the political discussions in Brussels in such a way that fossil fuels are discussed on par with renewables.

Luckily, some MEPs (such as Javor, Van Brempt, Werner, Cabezón Ruiz, Rodríguez-Piñero Fernández and Krehl) saw this danger and introduced an amendment in favour of an immediate moratorium on fracking to make clear that fracking for shale gas cannot be part of these so-called “indigenous energy sources”.

We are also happy to report that all the other amendments that sought to explicitly promote shale gas and other unconventional oil and gas did not make it into the final report. It shows that fracking for shale gas remains deeply unpopular. Shale gas or fracking cannot even be called by name, but needs to be covered up by vague notions like “indigenous energy sources”. Fracking is a dirty word. And we intend to keep it that way!

Thanks to the hundreds of EU citizens (747 to be precise) that took our online action and wrote to 104 MEPs to demand their support for a fracking moratorium. This vote has shown that your support for our campaign to ban fracking in the EU makes a difference. Stay tuned.