European politicians recognised the specific environmental, health and social impacts of fracking today, according to Friends of the Earth Europe. For the first time, and as a result of a vote in the European Parliament today, some of the dangers of unconventional fossil fuels like shale gas are now specifically reflected in environmental and health safeguards applicable to all fossil fuels. However, the organisation warns that this does not close the door on dirty and dangerous unconventional fossil fuels.
GEAI is very pleased with this development. The resolution being voted upon was the review of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive. Many amendments were put forward to the proposed document, one being the imposition of mandatory Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) at exploration as well as extraction stages of shale gas development (AM79). The MEPs supported this amendment, which is a recognition of the potential dangers of the industry, even at the exploration stage.
However, the news is not all great. The resolution was watered down by voting for another amendment which imposes mandatory EIAs only for exploration activities that include hydraulic fracturing (fracking). This means that drilling pads and access roads can be constructed, drilling rigs installed, deep wells drilled and other infrastructure put in place without EIAs. And who will regulate and oversee these?