Robust Rules on Fracking Needed, Say MEPs

The emergence of exploration for shale oil and shale gas in some EU countries should be backed up with “robust regulatory regimes”, the European Parliament has said in two resolutions. Member states should also be “cautious” about permitting exploitation of unconventional fossil fuels pending further analysis of whether EU-level regulation is appropriate, say MEPs.

Each member state has the right to decide on whether to exploit shale gas. However, a “robust regulatory regime” is needed for all shale gas activities, including hydraulic fracturing. Environmentally-friendly processes and best available techniques should be used to achieve the highest safety standards, say MEPs.

The text acknowledges that substantial investments are needed to build the necessary infrastructure, but adds that this will have to be “entirely covered by the industry”.

Domestic gas production inEuropeis set to decline in future but demand for it will continue to grow, pushing up imports to 450 billion cubic metres by 2035, notes the text. New sources of natural gas, along with other measures such as boosting take-up of renewables and energy efficiency can help to achieve security of supply for the EU, it adds.

Although the European Commission has concluded that EU rules adequately cover licensing and early exploration and production of shale gas, the prospect of expanding exploitation of unconventional fossil fuels suggests that “a thorough analysis” of EU regulation on these fuels is needed, say MEPs in an Environment Committee report drafted by Boguslaw Sonik (EPP, PL) and adopted with 562 votes in favour, 86 against and 43 abstentions.

Special plans for water use should accompany any hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) activities and as much water as possible should be recycled, says the resolution. Companies must disclose which chemicals are used, in order to comply with EU legislation, it adds.

By 391 votes to 262 and 37 abstentions, Parliament rejected an amendment, tabled by a number of MEPs from different groups, urging Member states not to authorize any new fracking operations in the EU.

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