Commission Consults Public on Unconventional Fossil Fuels in Europe

The European Commission is holding a public consultation on the future development of unconventional fossil fuels such as shale gas in Europe – often referred to as fracking. All interested individuals, organisations and public authorities are welcome to share their views on the development of such projects and on the best ways to address the challenges identified so far. The consultation is open until 20 March 2013.

The consultation can be filled in through:

Building on analytical work it has conducted since the end of 2011, the European Commission will propose in 2013 a framework to manage risks, address regulatory shortcomings, and provide maximum legal clarity and predictability to market operators and citizens across the EU.

Work on this framework has already started, and all relevant policy options will be assessed. This web-based consultation is part of a broader process designed to involve civil society in the Commission’s on-going work. The formal consultation process involves regular meetings with Member States and other stakeholders and foresees a public consultation meeting during the first half of 2013. The results of this public consultation will feed into this broader exercise.

In the past, exploration for and production of natural gas and oil in Europe focused mainly on conventional resources. While opportunities for this type of domestic extraction are becoming increasingly limited, technological advances are now opening up new possibilities for the extraction of unconventional fossil fuels such as shale gas, tight gas and coal bed methane from geological formations that were previously too complex or too expensive to exploit.

The European Commission aims to ensure that any further development of unconventional fossil fuels is carried out with the proper health, climate and environmental safeguards in place, with maximum legal clarity and predictability for citizens and operators. This will help ensure that the potential economic and energy security benefits of such developments can be reaped in a safe manner that does not compromise human health or the environment. The questions in the consultation cover issues such as broad opportunities and challenges, possible measures to reduce health and environmental risks, measures to increase the transparency of operations, and general recommendations regarding action at EU-level.

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