September 10th, 2018

Shannon Estuary Import Terminal for US Fracked Gas Would Lock Ireland and EU into Fossil Fuels for Decades

Brussels – A huge gas import terminal proposed for the Shannon Estuary would lock Ireland and the EU into using dirty fracked gas from the US for decades to come, pushing the planet closer to runaway climate change.

An international coalition of campaign groups is opposing Shannon LNG on the grounds that it not only threatens people’s health, the local environment and tourism, but would also drag Ireland and Europe away from renewable energy and leave Ireland facing ever bigger EU fines for missing our climate change commitments.

Anne Marie Harrington of environmental group Futureproof Clare, said: “The monstrosity planned for Ballylongford not only poses major health and environmental risks locally, it also makes a mockery of Ireland’s commitment as an EU member to reduce climate-polluting emissions by 40% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. According to figures release by the EPA last May, the best-case scenario for 2030 is that our emissions will still be 10% above 1990 levels [1]. That will cost Irish taxpayers billions of euro in fines.

“Minister for Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten admitted to The Irish Times last week that the Government’s plan to tackle climate change by reducing emissions and adopting renewable energy was not working [2]. But just five days earlier, both Mr Naughten and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar gave their public backing to the Shannon LNG project [3]. This is a stunning contradiction,” Ms Harrington said.

The Shannon LNG project, abandoned by the Hess Corporation in 2015, was given a new lease of life in June of this year, when An Bord Pleanála extended its planning permission by five years, with minimal public consultation. Then on August 29th, a major new investor in the project was announced, US firm New Fortress Energy [3].

Ms Harrington continued: “When An Bord Pleanála originally granted planning permission for this project in 2008, natural gas, or methane, was viewed as relatively ‘clean’ in terms of its climate change impact. It is now known methane is almost 90 times more harmful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide when it escapes into the atmosphere. Producing and transporting natural gas – especially through fracking – releases methane at levels that make it hugely damaging to the climate.”

Campaigners are also highlighting the consequences for communities in the US. “Last year, Ireland took a proud step when we banned fracking because of its devastating effects on human health and the environment, but the Shannon LNG terminal simply exports fracking to the US, thereby harming communities in the US where fracking takes place. It’s a shameful Irish solution to an Irish problem,” Ms Harrington said.

“The planning permission for Shannon LNG terminal allows it to output more than twice as much gas as Ireland consumes. This is because the developer – and the European Union – plan to export this gas via the UK, turning Ireland into a pipeline for fracked gas from the US into Europe.”

In February, 23 environmental groups from Ireland, Belgium, Germany and the US made a joint submission to An Bord Pleanála, opposing the extension of planning permission.

One of those groups is the Brussels-based Food & Water Europe, and this week its policy advisor, Andy Gheorghiu, pointed out there are already more LNG import terminals in Europe than there is demand for: “The utilisation rate of all existing EU LNG terminals is at only roughly 23 per cent, clearly showing that any new investments in LNG infrastructure will almost inevitably create stranded assets. Apart from that, it is more than obvious that the import of fracked US LNG torpedoes Ireland’s efforts for a fossil-free future”.

Update: Meanwhile the High Court granted an injunction against a decision to extend planning permission to the Shannon LNG to the environmental group Friends of the Irish Environment.[6]

For further comment please contact: 

Anne Marie Harrington
Futureproof Clare
email: [email protected]

Andy Gheorghiu
Food & Water Europe
email: [email protected]

NOTES 

1) More information and updates are available at Futureproof Clare on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/futureproofclare/

2) http://www.epa.ie/pubs/reports/air/airemissions/ghgprojections2017-2035/#d.en.64043

3) https://www.foodandwatereurope.org/blogs/fracked-us-lng-torpedoes-irelands-dreams-of-a-fossil-free-future/

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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