Shale gas needs regulation, not a ban -European Parliament

Wed Nov 21, 2012 11:54pm IST

Related Topics

Stocks

   

* Commission next year to propose regulatory framework

* Shale gas supporters welcome the vote

* Greens, environmentalists wanted a ban

BRUSSELS, Nov 21 (Reuters) - EU politicians rejected a ban on shale gas, while calling for a robust regulatory regime to address environmental and other concerns, in a series of votes on Wednesday in the European Parliament.

A shale gas revolution has swept the United States, lowering gas prices and helping to displace more polluting coal.

Europe is looking on with interest, if not envy, as the United States moves towards energy independence and gets an economic boost from cheap fuel.

But the prospect of extensive shale gas development in Europe is complicated by land ownership rules, higher population density and environmental concerns about the fracking process used to extract natural gas from shale.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves pumping water containing chemicals into shale rock formations at high pressure and critics say it risks contaminating aquifers as well as potentially causing earth tremors.

Although Wednesday's votes rejected a call for a ban on new fracking activity, saying European Union member states had the right to explore their reserves, they also took a cautious line.

Votes on two separate reports struck out sentences pushing for swift shale gas development.

The rejected lines included one that shale gas could "play a critical role" in the transition to low-carbon power generation and another on supporting "a high level of sustainable shale gas production".

The European Commission is expected next year to deliver a framework on managing the risks and addressing shortcomings in relevant EU regulation.

"Studies carried out indicate that there are a number of uncertainties or gaps in current EU legislation," Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said in a statement.

"Addressing health and environmental risks will be of paramount importance for the industry to gain broad public acceptance."

Wednesday's parliamentary votes are not binding, but are a political signal to Commission law-drafters.

Shale gas supporters welcomed them, while environmentalists and Green politicians praised the mood of caution, but had wanted a ban.

"This implies that member states should think twice before allowing any projects of this controversial technology to go ahead," Carl Schlyter, Swedish Green member of the European Parliament, said in a statement.

Shale Gas Europe, a new body backed by oil and gas firms, including Chevron, Statoil and Royal Dutch Shell, said the parliament had called for shale gas exploration and ensuring it was done sustainably.

"Shale Gas Europe fully supports those goals and will keep engaging with citizens and decision-makers by listening to and addressing concerns relating to shale gas," spokeswoman Monica Cristina said.

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Rising Inflation

Rising Inflation

Food prices push inflation up, limit RBI's room to act.  Full Article 

New Direction

New Direction

New CEO Nadella pushes data culture at Microsoft.  Full Article 

Infosys Results

Infosys Results

Infosys says staff exodus a worry after Q4 profits beat estimates  Full Article 

Deal Talk

Deal Talk

Diageo in $1.9 billion bid to raise stake in United Spirits.  Full Article 

Reuters Poll

Reuters Poll

Domestic fund managers start to bet on own economy  Full Article 

S&P on India

S&P on India

India's policy reforms to affect sovereign ratings - S&P.  Full Article 

Toyota's Performance

Toyota's Performance

After two bumper years, Toyota braces for shift to slower growth.  Full Article 

Third Gender

Third Gender

Supreme Court recognises transgenders as third gender in landmark ruling.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage