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Environmental assessment of fracking needed: Reilly

24 April, 2012

Sinn Féin senator, Kathryn Reilly, today raised the issue of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" with the European Environment Commissioner, Mr Janez Potočnik. Senator Reilly was speaking at the Conference of the European Affairs Committee’s of the member states of the European Union and the European Parliament (COSAC) plenary conference.
Senator Reilly said:
"We are faced with the dual challenge of stimulating the growth needed to provide jobs and of ensuring that the quality of this growth leads to a sustainable future.
"An action point of the commission is to establish a common methodological approach to enable member states and the private sector to assess, display and benchmark the environmental performance of products based on a comprehensive assessment of environmental impacts over the life cycle.
"In terms of our natural resources will there be a similar assessment of accessing these resources, of the exploration and extraction processes?
"Currently there are disputes and debates on hydraulic fracturing or 'fracking' right across Europe and worldwide. Opponents rightly point to the contamination of water supplies, air pollution and increased risk of earthquakes but energy groups just say it provides access to considerable gas reserves and would drive down fuel prices.
"How is the commission ensuring that in the process of taking advantage of our natural resources, which could be worth a great deal in terms of monetary value, that full environmental impact assessments are being carried out? Or that environmental standards are put in place?"
Speaking after the debate, Senator Reilly said:
"The commissioner stressed the importance of proper assessment of environmental impacts of any economic activity and it is clear that this is critical in the case of the use of 'fracking' in Ireland. We need to use our natural resources in a sustainable way and these processes cannot be allowed to proceed in the absence of accurate information based on their life-cycle impact, that is, the long term environmental effects on our water, air and land." ENDS

Editors’ Note: COSAC is a Conference of the Committees of the national Parliaments of the European Union Member States dealing with the European Union affairs as well as representatives of the European Parliament. Senator Reilly is a member of the Irish representation.

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