|The Global Gasdown-Frackdown unites concerned citizens everywhere and tells elected officials, in our communities and across the globe, that we want a future powered by clean, renewable energy, not dirty, polluting fossil fuels. Learn more about the Global Gasdown-Frackdown.
What Is Fracking?
Extracting shale gas requires an often dangerous technique known as fracking. Fracking involves pumping millions of litres of fracking fluid — i.e., water mixed with sand — into a well in order to create cracks in shale formations, which then allows the gas to escape from these impermeable rock formations. A wide range of toxic chemical additives (1-2% of the total volume) is added to this fracking fluid to ease the operation of the well for the oil or gas company.
Fracking Wastes and Pollutes Water
A wide range of environmental problems have been identified with shale gas development in the United States, including:
- Fracking operations are water intensive: large-scale development of shale gas can lead to a shortage of water.
- Many of the chemicals used in fracking fluid are toxic: some are known carcinogens; others can affect the skin, eyes, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems, brain/nervous system, and so on.
- Fracking fluids can pollute underground aquifers: fissures created by the fracking process or errors in the construction of the well can lead to fracking fluids getting into the wells.
Apart from the water-related problems, there are a host of other environmental problems related to the practice of fracking: traffic congestion, noise, airborne pollution as well as greenhouse gas emissions.
A Stark Choice: Renewables or Domestic Fossil Fuels?
Europe’s energy mix faces two major challenges: On the one hand, the climate challenge requires a move towards low-carbon energy sources. On the other hand, recent concerns about Europe’s energy security have increased interest in the development of domestic supplies of energy. This has led the EU to promote renewable energy sources and energy efficiency. Unfortunately, it has also sparked interest in the development of domestic supplies of fossil fuels, and shale gas in particular. Looking at the United States, booming shale gas development has reduced the American need for imports of natural gas. In European discussions on energy security, shale gas is often presented as a game changer.
Food & Water Europe Wants a Ban on Fracking.
Several constituencies, such as France, Bulgaria and some Swiss and German states, have already adopted a ban or a moratorium on fracking activities.
Other EU Member States, such as the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Germany, are considering a moratorium on fracking until an adequate regulatory framework is in place for unconventional energy projects such as shale gas. However, polluting shale gas developments are going ahead in other countries, such as Poland, Romania and the United Kingdom. This had led to protests by local residents across Europe to stop ongoing shale gas exploration, many of which have been successful in delaying planning permissions or even stopping drilling activities.
Food & Water Europe calls for an EU-wide ban on shale gas development. The EU should also conduct an in-depth analysis of whether its current environmental legislation appropriately regulates the shale gas industry and its activities. Rather than pursuing shale gas, Food & Water Europe wants the EU and its Member States to pursue a sustainable energy future by aggressively investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.
In April 2012, Food & Water Europe issued a joint statement with other civil society actors from across Europe, stating that unconventional gas development should not be allowed to proceed in the European Union.
Ahead of the COP21 climate summit in Paris, Food & Water Europe gathered signatures from 1250 anti-fracking, citizens and environmental groups from around the world – including 250 European groups – to send a strong message to our elected officials that ambitious action on climate change must include an immediate and complete ban on fracking and the extraction of shale gas, shale oil and other unconventional oil and gas resources.