The Irish EPA report, authored by CDM Smith who are effectively part of the fracking industry was published yesterday. The press release for the report is noticeable for the two conflicting statements made – namely that despite admission that there are uncontrollable environmental risks inherent to the process, that its grand to go ahead anyhow.
So there we have it folks, its a learn on the job industry. The industry clearly identifies there are significant environmental risks – namely with well integrity, with fracture propagation and with fugitive and other pollutant emissions, that aren’t readily controllable with regulation or mitigation, ( those were the ones they highlighted), but says go ahead anyway, and added “sure we’re f*cked as an industry with the low price of oil and with renewables undercutting us an’ now need to stoke up an investment fever in Europe so we can waste more money and burn the planet in the process”. OK they didn’t say the last bit, but I did wonder whether the press release was written by Waterford Whispers or the EPA on first reading such was the conflicting information in the two statements.
Lets be clear, the local communities sought to have Public Health made central to this report, with 1250 of the 1350 submissions detailing just that. The Industry was then placed in charge of producing the report. The terms of reference were tailored to suit a narrow approach which didn’t look at community impacts or public health impacts but was more focused on industry specifics of drilling wells and breaking rock, and even with all of those important issues discounted the industry admits that even in their narrow sphere there are huge unknown environmental impacts.
The reaction to the report from the Government in the Republic has been to suggest the current moratorium on granting of any authorisations will be extended. Indeed any sensible invocation of the precautionary principle would see this path being followed. There has been no comment from the Government in Northern Ireland, despite this being an all island study. Indeed it will be very interesting to see what position DUP Minster Michelle McIlveen takes as NIEA come under her ministerial brief these days.
The next actions should see the dismissal of the current applications for exploration licences in the Republic Of Ireland, the progression of the bill to ban unconventional oil and gas onshore through the Dail, and the tabling and passing of a similar bill in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
And what of Tamboran .. well this is how they viewed the outcome of the EPA report on their website (since removed).