Some folks might still think that the people can’t really change politics or don’t really have an impact on the decisions of politicians and companies. I don’t! Not because it is easy to work for a change but because it is hard. Not because I like to negate the reality of the political and economical interlinkage but because I know that the people always have the ultimate power … if they were only willing to exercise their power more frequently.
Well, I can tell you that the European fracktivists did exercise their power to change more than once. And they are still willing to do it over and over again.
Yes, our fracking struggle isn’t over yet and it’s still a rocky road to climb until we reach the mountain top of a frack-free globe. But the latest good news from Europe again shows that it’s definitely worth the trouble.
Spain – BNK Gives Back Penultimate License
Around five years ago, in the beginning of the promised European shale gas bonanza, BNK Petroleum Ltd., formerly known as Bankers Petroleum, was a very active player in many parts of Europe. But after losing all ground in Germany and after facing the shale underground reality in Poland, the only remaining shale sanctuary for BNK was Spain. For a year, BNK has waited for a decision concerning the environmental impact assessments for 12 exploration wells in Spain. Six of these wells were related to the Sedano license (348 km²) in the province of Burgos (autonomous community of Castile and León) and the other six were related to the Urraca license (948 km²), covering parts of the provinces of Burgos and Álava (Basque country). But earlier this month it became clear that BNK will abandon the Sedano license. Although the company apparently wants to go on with the Urraca license, Spanish fracktivists are convinced that it is just a matter of time until BNK will finally leave Europe’s meagre and indigestible shale pastures once and for all.
“This is a great victory,” says Samuel Martín-Sosa Rodríguez, International Coordinator for Ecologistas en Acción, Spain. “BNK plans are the closest we have ever been in Spain of been drilled, but this decision means that the possibility of the first wells being drilled in our country has been pushed back a bit further.”
Denmark – Total Shale Disappointment
After years of fierce opposition from local activists and money spent on efforts to act against the will of the people, French fossil giant Total came to know in the end that there is simply not enough shale gas in Jutland, Denmark. The global oil and gas company will definitely give up its shale adventure in the country. According to the Copenhagen Post, Total has spent about half a billion kroner (approximately 134 million €) on its shale gas projects in Denmark, although the state-owned Nordsøfonden held a 20 percent stake in the license and partly covered the costs. The Danish example is yet another bad example of how ideological agents of the fossil fuel industry seduce political decision makers to scorch public money in still-born shale ventures.
“That is a big partial victory, and now we will push forward for getting a majority in the Danish parliament and for transforming the existing shale moratorium into a consequent permanent ban,” says Tarjei Haaland of Greenpeace Denmark. “It’s a totally good day for the environmental and social climate when Total gives up fracking in the mark of the Danes.”
Scotland – Bravehearts Voting for a Fracking Ban
The Scottish parliament recently narrowly voted in favour of a ban on fracking. Looking at the ever growing evidence of the negative impacts of the hydraulic fracturing technique, the decision of the Scottish parliament seems nothing but a consequent follow-up-vote on the announced moratorium from January 2015.
However, the Scottish National Party, currently running a minority government in Edinburgh, abstained from the vote but a joined force of Labour, Green and Liberal MSPs made the important Scottish decision a reality. This clear anti-fracking stance of the “Kilt-Nation” is the complete antidote to the recent pro-fracking decision of the council of North Yorkshire, England. Although the vote of the Scottish Parliament is non binding on the Government, local fracktivists can’t imagine that the political decision makers up north will be able to escape the people’s pressure in this case.
“It’s great that the Scottish Parliament has voted to ban fracking and sent this clear message to the Government to get on and do it. The many SNP MSPs who stood on an anti-fracking platform in the Holyrood election are clearly feeling the pressure on this important issue. We look forward to greater urgency from the Scottish Government in ending the uncertainty for communities faced with unconventional fossil fuel extraction across Scotland,” says Mary Church, Friends of the Earth Scotland.
We’ll be on the lookout for more good news as more and more government leaders start acknowledging what the grassroots already know—fracking is a bad deal for communities and our planet.