In 2016/2017, GEAI was at the forefront of the campaign to ban fracking in Ireland. With other local and national organisations we raised awareness and lobbied politically to get new legislation drafted to ensure that fracking would never be allowed in Ireland. Amazingly, we succeeded!  In 2017, President Higgins signed the legislation banning on-shore fracking in Ireland. Globally, this was recognised as a remarkable achievement, where small NGOs succeeded in influencing national policy despite the might of the oil and gas industry. A heart-warming David and Goliath story.

During that campaign, we got to know the devastating impact of fracking on local communities throughout the world, and in particular, in Pennsylvania, US, which we visited in 2015 and saw first-hand the harms done to public health and to water. These include respiratory illnesses, childhood early deaths and strange tumours. We also learned that “natural gas” produced by fracking (fracked gas) is Methane, a powerful greenhouse gas (GHG), 84 times more powerful than CO2 over 20 years. During the extraction and processing of natural gas, there are significant leakages, resulting in a global rise of methane levels in the atmosphere.

Now there is another unwelcome development – it is proposed to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) at two terminals – in the Shannon Estuary and in Cork – and to add this gas to the national supply. It already is established that such LNG would include fracked gas from US[1]. These projects have been welcomed by Government, who have added the Shannon LNG to the European Projects of Common Interest (PCI) list, which has the effect of fast-tracking the project through planning and environmental assessment requirements.

From an environmental and social viewpoint, this development goes against everything we have fought for during the campaign against fracking.

·         Environmentally, fracked gas is a major contributor to levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Recently, an international expert in the subject, Professor Howarth, stated that, when the leakages of methane at every stage of the LNG process are considered  – extraction, refining, distribution, liquification and transport – these emissions make LNG a potent polluter, emitting GHG emissions of 156 g CO2-equivalents per MJ, or a foot-print 44% greater than that of coal.[2]

·         Socially, it is hypocrisy to ban fracking in Ireland because of its impacts on public health and then to support the industry in US by importing its product and ignoring the harms done to communities in the areas being fracked. Such harms have been extensively documented by the Concerned Health Professionals of New York[3]

·         Establishing this industry in Ireland would result in the construction of new pipelines and supply networks that would lock us into the use of fossil fuels for decades to come. This is completely unacceptable in light of the current climate crisis and the knowledge that, to keep global warming below 2 degrees, we need to keep 80% of current fossil fuel resources in the ground. Supporting the fossil fuel industry and the expansion of fracked gas supplies in Europe goes against this requirement.

For the above reasons, and more, Good Energies Alliance Ireland opposes the introduction of fracked gas into Ireland. Specifically, we support the campaign against the building of the Shannon and Cork LNG terminals and ask Government to remove Shannon LNG from the EU PCI list. 

[1] Stock exchange filing from New Fortress Energy, the US firm behind the LNG terminal

[2] Testimony of Robert W. Howarth, Ph.D. Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853 USA before the Joint Committee on Climate Action House of Oireachtas, Ireland 9 October 2019

[3] Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking: Concerned Health Professionals of New York 2019