FIE's Position

Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) extracts gas contained in rock by blasting pressurised water, sand and chemicals down deep boreholes (including newly developed horizontal drilling) into non-porous rock formations to release shale gas. It threatens to make wind farms and other forms of renewable energy uneconomic and is by its nature unsustainable, prolonging our lock-in to fossil fuels while further deteriorating our planet's ability to sustain itself.

Its proponents claim that this new domestic source of gas would encourage power plants to switch away from coal but recent life cycle analysis suggest that natural gas extraction contributes more to global warming than coal by as much as 25%. Nor is it right to claim that it offers Ireland long term security of energy supply. Only renewable energies promise long term security.

FIE believes that on the available evidence, the process depletes water reserves, risks contaminating increasingly valuable water sources both from the chemicals used and from disturbing chemicals already contained in shale formations, including arsenic, lead, mercury and radon.

Damage caused to aquifers and geology will be irreversible and has already had unforeseen consequences in other countries. Landscape, habitats, and the right to enjoyment of the natural environment will all be adversely affected.

Fracking will transform and disrupt life in wide areas of rural Ireland. Not only does the extraction require many pads over wide areas, but the final product must be transported across rural roads, many of which are already in poor condition.

The process can not meet reasonable standards of safety that would ensure the absence of danger to the environment and to human health. We believe that if properly carried out, the assessment and decision making process will make this conclusion inevitable. FIE is opposed to the introduction fracking in Ireland.

Latest News

The Irish EPA Preliminary Assessment of Fracking - A good start but a long way to go. Irish Environment May 30, 2012

No 'fracking' until further study, says Rabbitte - The Irish Times - Saturday, May 12, 2012

Economic benefits of shale-gas extraction unclear - 30 June 2011- The New York Times published hundreds of gas industry emails, many of which claim that the amount of gas being produced is exaggerated.

France Bans Fracking - 27 July 2011

New York to ban fracking in wildlife and watershed areas -27 July, 2011

The Irish Times - Saturday, June 11, 2011 - Gives estimate for Lough Allen Basin at €120 billion at present prices with a 75% chance of recovery.

Leitrim Observer June 2011 Article and interview with Tamboran's CEO Richard Moorman.

An Taisce Energy Unit Newsletter Summer 2011 Includes useful general information on fracking and its regulation process here. Examins the fracking issue from the national energy policy perspective and calls on the Minister to organise public consultation. Includes interview with Dr. Tony Bazley, editor of Earth Science and recently appointed Irish manage of Tamboran Resoruces.

World Wide Media

GASLAND Trailer 2010 for GASLAND - (2010) Directed by Josh Fox. Winner of Special Jury Prize - Best US Documentary Feature - Sundance 2010. Screening at Cannes 2010.

Irish Documents

Briefing Paper for the Joint Committee on Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht Oireachtas Library & Research Service - This paper examines some of the issues relating to the hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking) extraction system in the context of licences issued for the Northwest Carboniferous and Clare Basins. It then examines more general issues relating to fracking from an international perspective.
[This is the most useful introduction to the Irish situation to date.]

Status Analysis Review of the Existing Legislative and Regulatory System for Petroleum Exploration and Extraction in Ireland March 31st 2011(10Mb) by The Commission for Energy Regulation.- This gives the overall picture of extraction regulation in Ireland but does not mention hydraulic fracturing.

Consultation Paper on the High Level Design of the Petroleum Safety Framework This sets out the proposed limits and methodology of the proposed safety regulation of the industry. Open for submission until 27 September 2011. See our comments.

Competitive Onshore Licensing Notice. -The 2010 terms and conditions of the offer of onshore exploration licences. Lists townlands under offer. Requires response by 10 June 2010.

Acerage Position Report March 2011. - This lists includes the three onshore licences granted.

Maps of Clare Basin granted areas. - includes areas in Counties Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork

Map of North West Carboniferous Basin granted areas. - includes areas in Lietrim, Sligo, Roscommon, Cavan, and Monaghan.

North of Ireland Guidance for licences - Tamboran. - Includes comments from various agencies, including RSPB and NI Water.

International Research

New York State Preliminary Revised Draft Supplement Generic Environmental Impact Statement(30Mb)
Revised and enhanced from the original 2009 document. Due to be completed in 2011 and to be published for comment. A detailed anlysis of the potential impacts. Extensive bibliography

Methane and the greenhouse-gas footprint of natural gas from shale formations ['The Cornell Paper'].
Robert W. Howarth, Renee Santoro, Anthony Ingraffea © Climatic change. Accepted: 13 March 2011 - This paper compares the GHG footprint of shale gas compared to traditional gas exploration and finds that 30% more methane is emitted by fracking. 'Better regulation can help push industry towards methane emissions reductions'.

Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing.['The Duke Paper']
Stephen G. Osborna, Avner Vengoshb, Nathaniel R. Warnerb, and Robert B. Jackson Center on Global Change, Nicholas School of the Environment, Division of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Nicholas School of the Environment, and Biology Department, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708 Approved April 14, 2011 - In aquifers overlying the Marcellus and Utica shale formations of northeastern Pennsylvania and upstate New York, this paper documents systematic evidence for methane contamination of drinking water associated with shalegas extraction. This paper concludes that greater stewardship, data, and-possibly-regulation are needed to ensure the sustainable future of shale-gas extraction and to improve public confidence in its use.

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