October 18th, 2019

Breaking: Justification for Controversial Shannon Fracked Gas Terminal Eviscerated at European Commission Meeting Yesterday

Citing climate impacts, Sweden pulls LNG project off European Union’s energy projects of common interest list; Ireland must follow suit and reject fracked gas Shannon LNG terminal

Irish government now has until October 23 to remove Shannon terminal off European Union’s list for subsidies and permitting fastrack

Brussels — On Thursday, October 17, it was revealed at a European Commission meeting that the US fracked gas Shannon LNG import terminal is on the European Projects of Common Interest (PCI) list, without assessing climate or sustainability impacts. Two other gas projects connected to Shannon LNG were shown to be taken off the list.

At the EU Committee on Industry, Research and Energy at the European Commission, members were unable to respond to criticism that this project has not undergone a sustainability study that would assess its impact on climate and Ireland’s commitment to the Paris Agreement. This criticism comes after the Swedish government recently removed the fossil gas LNG terminal in the Port of Gothenburg off the same PCI list, on the grounds that locking in fossil fuel dependence is inconsistent with climate targets.

TD Brid Smith said, “Breaking: Justification for Controversial Shannon Fracked Gas Terminal Eviscerated at European Commission Meeting YesterdayThis process has been shrouded in secrecy from the beginning and now we find out that the Swedish government has pulled a similar LNG fossil gas terminal off the PCI list based on the same climate concerns that members of the Dail, NGOs and scientists have raised, including at the Joint Oireachtais Committee on Climate Action last week. The question we need to now be asking is what is motivating the Taoiseach and Minister Bruton to continue to push the Shannon LNG fracked gas terminal?”

The Irish Government has until 23rd October to remove the Shannon LNG project from the PCI list. If the project remains on the list, it will become eligible for EU subsidies, and it would fast track planning permission that would override environmental impacts that the project would have on the protected Shannon Estuary – despite the fact that a decision of the European Court of Justice on the project is still pending.

Two projects (gas underground storage in Northern Ireland and a reverse flow pipeline to Scotland) that were connected to Shannon LNG were taken off the PCI list after the EU’s internal review found the projects “did not prove that their overall benefits outweigh costs”. The criteria for a project to be on the PCI list is that it has a significant impact on at least two EU member states. With the removal of the two connecting infrastructure projects in Northern Ireland and Scotland, Shannon LNG does not meet that criteria, yet currently remains on the list.

“The projects on the PCI list are intended to help the EU achieve its energy policy and climate objectives: affordable, secure and sustainable energy for all citizens, and the long-term decarbonisation of the economy in accordance with the Paris Agreement, and they must link at least two European member states. The Shannon project simply does not achieve any of these goals and must be removed from the PCI list,” said Kate Ruddock from Friends of the Earth.

“The grounds for approving this project are non-existent. The Shannon LNG terminal is planned to import fracked gas, which would torpedo the efforts of the Emerald Isle to achieve its climate targets. Now, the EU Commission admitted that even the formal criteria can’t be met by  Shannon LNG. If the Taoiseach and Minister Bruton don’t remove this project from the PCI list, it is evident that there is something more nefarious afoot. The public deserves to know what influence and false promises New Fortress Energy, the corporation behind the Shannon LNG terminal, are making to impact this decision,” said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch Europe.

The Shannon LNG terminal has become increasingly controversial as US campaigners have pointed out that the project would be supplied by fracked gas originating in the United States. . Health professionals, NGOs and advocates, including Mark Ruffalo and Michael Moore, sent a letter to the Taoiseach asking Ireland to block this project, which would re-energise the fracking industry and increase human suffering and pollution in the affected areas, specifically Pennsylvania.

Actor and anti-fracking campaigner Mark Ruffalo said, “The Taoiseach and the Irish government can follow Sweden’s lead here and show what real climate leadership looks like. We are working everyday in the US to ban fracking and help our fellow Americans who have been harmed by this industry. Unlike the US, the Irish government isn’t bought off by the fossil fuel industry — but if they approve this project on the PCI list on October 23, then it will appear that they are.”

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment Richard Bruton has kept the process surrounding the PCI list shrouded in secrecy. He would not respond to TD Brid Smith’s request to inform the Dail of the date of the European Commission meeting. It was only after an Access to Information on the Environment (AIE) request from a local resident that the TDs and public learned the date of that meeting. Then, after the closed door meeting at the European Commission, Minister Bruton declined to share information with NGOs as to whether or not Shannon LNG and related gas projects were on the PCI list. It was not until 17 October that residents and groups learned what is on the final PCI list, and that Ireland has until 23 October to remove Shannon LNG off the list.

“Minister Richard Bruton refused to share information with members of the Dáil or the public about whether or not the Shannon LNG or connected projects would be on the list. The entire process lacks transparency, deepening concerns and criticisms about why Minister Bruton and members of the Irish government support the project that would bring dirty US fracked gas to Ireland,” said Kerry County local resident and Safety Before LNG’s John McElligott. 

Advocates in the US are pleading with the Irish government to stop the project. In recent months, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper has investigated and found least 67 diagnoses of cancers in children in just 4 rural, heavily-fracked counties of the state. Health professionals and scientists in the United States have been documenting the public health harms of fracking and related infrastructure for years now. The vast majority of more than 1,500 articles from peer-reviewed medical or scientific journals, investigative reports by journalists, and reports from, or commissioned by, government agencies demonstrate that drilling, fracking, and related infrastructure LNG are dangerous and harmful.

“We are asking the Irish government to make this decision to stop the import of US fracked gas not only on the scientific and economic basis but also on a moral one. Ireland banned fracking because of the harm it would bring to public health and the environment. Please don’t import the fracked gas that is wreaking havoc in our state and our country,” said Pennsylvania resident and Better Path Coalition campaigner Karen Feridun.

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Contact:

Kate Ruddock, Friends of the Earth Ireland: [email protected]

Andy Gheorghiu, Policy Advisor and Campaigner, Food & Water Europe: [email protected], 0049 160 20 30 974

Scott Edwards, Director of Food & Water Justice: [email protected], 1.202.683.4969

Food & Water Europe is the European programme of Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit organisation based in the United States. Food & Water Europe champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people and advocate for a democracy that improves people's lives and protects our environment. https://www.foodandwatereurope.org
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