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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

EU lawmakers urge governments to adopt tough rules on shale gas based on USA experience

Hot on the heels of three reports from the European Commission on shale gas development, Platts reports that members of the European Parliament's Industry and Energy Committee on Tuesday urged national governments to adopt "robust regulatory regimes" to guide future shale gas exploration and production.

Platts reports that the members were voting on an "own initiative" report that sets out their views on shale gas, but does not have any legal force.

The committee press release reads:

Each EU country has the right to decide for itself on whether to exploit shale gas, said the Energy Committee. Member states should have robust rules on all shale gas activities, including hydraulic fracturing of rock ("fracking"). MEPs also advise the EU to learn from US experiences [emphasis mine], with a view to using environmentally friendly industrial processes and "best available technologies". 

The Commission recently concluded that EU rules adequately cover licensing and early exploration and production of shale gas but further expansion may require changes to EU legislation, MEPs note.

Looking ahead, MEPs called on the Commission to help evaluate the economic and environmental impact of unconventional gas in the EU.

Domestic gas consumption is currently on the rise in the EU, with imports projected to reach an annual 450 billion cubic metres by 2035. New sources of natural gas could help diversity of supply but other measures are needed to reduce dependence on imports, such as boosting take-up of renewables and energy efficiency, say MEPs.

The Energy Committee resolution was adopted with 32 votes in favour, 23 against and 1 abstention.

On Wednesday the Environment Committee will vote on a separate resolution on the environmental aspects of shale oil and shale gas, including on transparency regarding chemicals used and the risks of groundwater contamination.

The eyes of the world continue to focus on America’s shale gas boom.  This fact underscores the global implications of our enacting the best protections and policies. Clearly, the world does not view us as having reached that goal yet.

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