Brussels – This week, Food & Water Europe executive director Wenonah Hauter led a delegation from Poland, the UK and Belgium meeting with MEPs about the major risks involved in using hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – to extract shale gas. The aim of the visit to Brussels was to inform the political debate within the EU about the negative American experiences with fracking, both in terms of the disastrous environmental record of the shale gas industry as well as the exaggerated claims about its economic benefits. Food & Water Europe hopes these conversations will contribute to the two own-initiative reports on shale gas that are currently being prepared in the European Parliament.
“The dubious benefits and poor environmental record of shale gas development in the U.S. serve as a cautionary tale for Europe,” said Wenonah Hauter. “It is worrying that European policymakers perpetuate the myth of shale gas as a viable bridge to a low carbon future.” Recent studies reveal that widespread shale gas development may actually worsen global climate change. Apart from the problematic impact of shale gas on climate change, fracking has caused widespread environmental and public health problems and created serious, long-term risks to underground water resources. Since the shale gas boom has really taken off in the U.S., the evidence of these major risks involved in fracking has piled up.
Based on these American experiences, a growing number of European countries and regions have imposed a moratorium on fracking. In May 2011, France banned fracking, and this month Bulgaria also imposed a fracking ban. A number of German states, Swiss cantons, Irish counties, and regional and local governments have taken a similar approach. “Opposition to shale gas is building in communities where fracking activities have started and where the impacts will be felt,” said Hauter. “The wait-and-see approach of the European institutions will become increasingly untenable as fracking for shale gas starts to endanger our precious water resources”.
In addition, the economic benefits that were promised by the energy corporations involved in shale gas drilling have been grossly exaggerated, according to a recent analysis by Washington, D.C. based Food & Water Watch, which showed one job claim had been exaggerated by 900 percent.
Contact: Geert De Cock tel. +32 (0)2 893 10 45, mobile +32 (0)484 629.491, gdecock(at)fweurope(dot)org