French anti-Fracking Groups Call for Protest Feb 28
Environmental groups are calling for a demonstration on February 28 in Barjac, a small town in the department of Gard, one of the five departments covered by the Montélimar permit which could be re-awarded to Total by a French court, according to a statement from Stop Gaz de schiste”, the national coalition against fracking.
The goal is to rally local populations and elected officials against the possible re-allocation of the permit once owned by the French oil company. Local advocacy groups held a meeting on January 16 just 8 days after the administrative court of Cergy- Pontoise heard the appeal of Total over the abrogation of the Montélimar permit. The license was repealed when the French parliament passed a bill in 2011 banning the hydraulic fracturing technique.
The ruling will come by the end of January but the public prosecutor argued during the hearing that there is no legal reason not to restore the license to Total because the company made it clear it has no intention to use the controversial technique. The protest will be an opportunity to put pressure on French authorities.
“We demand that the government rejects the possibility to re-allocate that permit and definitely bans any shale oil and shale gas explorations or developments”, the document says. Local organisations attending the meeting implied that such a decision would be inconsistent with “France’s president François Hollande climate commitments made during the COP21 and more recently the commitments of the environment minister before the National Assembly.”
French energy minister Ségolène Royal told a public session on energy policies January 12 that France would no longer grant permits to companies looking for exploring conventional resources.
Yves Blein, a socialist member of the lower chamber of French parliament, asked Royal about the 160 exploration permit requests and whether the government was in favor of developing coal gas in the north east of the country where studies have been conducted.
Royal replied: “We must stop delivering new authorizations to explore conventional hydrocarbons. We must rather encourage companies to shift their investments towards the production of renewables energies and energy efficiency. The ministry will deny any new application aimed to explore conventional hydrocarbons.” As for non-conventional resources such as shale gas, Royal repeated that “the use of the hydraulic fracturing technique remains prohibited.”
It is exactly the kind of public statement environment groups were so eager to hear. Last October, the government granted three new permits and extend four licenses.