Statement by Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Europe
Brussels – “Food & Water Europe is deeply alarmed by MEP Boguslaw Sonik’s draft report on the environmental impacts of shale gas and shale oil extraction. Mr. Sonik papers over the genuine risks that fracking poses to our water, our climate and our quality of life. Doing so serves the corporate agenda of fossil fuel companies, not the general interest of European citizens. We urge MEPs to vote against this report in its current form.
“Apart from the contents, the defensive tone of the report is problematic. Mr. Sonik dismisses significant new peer-reviewed scientific research that exposes the environmental pollution that has accompanied shale gas and shale oil development in the United States as ‘ideologically-biased’. This pollution directly endangers human and animal health, creates significant waste treatment and disposal challenges, and will only accelerate global climate change.
“Mr. Sonik fundamentally misunderstands the precautionary principle: the notion that the onus of the burden of proof of technological safety is on the user of the technology, not those concerned about their safety. He claims it is essential to apply it ‘to any future development of resources in Europe’, yet he fails to acknowledge that there is no systematic public health study of the cumulative impacts of shale development. Fracking for shale gas in Europe would be an uncontrolled public health experiment”.
“Mr. Sonik’s report begins under the assumption that shale gas is a ‘very important new source of supply,’ conveniently dropping the key word “potential” from this direct quote out of the Commission’s 2050 Energy Roadmap. Yet, just as in the United States, the shale gas and shale oil resource potential in Europe is extremely uncertain. Poland’s own potential shale gas reserves were recently estimated to be just a tenth of what had been claimed just a few years ago.
“Food & Water Europe advocates for aggressive investment in the deployment of existing energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Under no circumstances should European taxpayer contributions instead be offered to the oil and gas industry to stimulate shale development. Yet, Mr. Sonik proposes to do just that. His report is out of touch with public opinion and the current political debates within the European Parliament.
“Finally, in his public statements to defend the environmental reputation of shale gas, Mr. Sonik has resorted to the use of Cold War rhetoric, accusing Russia’s Gazprom of spreading fears about shale gas. While Poland’s history with Russia has been problematic, Food & Water Europe emphasizes that, for an EU of 27 Member States with a focus on 2050, such rhetoric only complicates the challenge of developing 21st century policies to ensure clean and renewable energy solutions.”
Contact: Geert De Cock tel. +32 (0)2 893 10 45, mobile +32 (0)484 629.491, gdecock(at)fweurope.org