A New Legal Fight is Coming over Shale Gas Permits in France
What if a French court re-opened the fracking debate?
On December 8 when world leaders will gather in Paris for the UN conference on climate change, the administrative court of Cergy-Pontoise, located in the Paris region, will rule on the repeal of three permits in Southern France:
- Nant, Aveyron which covers the departments of Herault and Gard (Schuepbach)
- Villeneuve-de-Berg, Ardèche (Schuepbach)
- Montélimar, Drôme (Total)
The three permits granted in March 2010 were repealed in October 2011 following the anti-fracking bill passed by French Parliament three months before. José Bové, an iconoclast member of the green party in the European Parliament led the fight at that time. He is often described as a champion of the alter-globalization movement for defending farmers against big corporations.
Schuepbach Energy, an American oil company, will claim damages of 117 million euros as partial compensation for losses caused by the abrogation. “If the court rules in favor of this American company, I would create a dangerous precedent”, Bové fears.
It may possibly be a game changer opening the door to new explorations of French resources.
The European lawmaker, who is known for his media stunts, wants to take the opportunity of the United Nations climate change conference in Paris to convince people that shale gas developments cannot be part of the solution to fight global warming.
“Oil companies are still looking for new permits to explore our resources in a very vague way. They argued that they have no intentions to conduct unconventional resources operations but it’s not very clear. We must remain vigilant. Can we really keep doing some prospection with the hope to find few drops of oil and gas when we should focus exclusively on clean energies”, told Bové during a press conference on November 10.