France: Mining Code Reform Will Be Presented by June
It looks like the French government has heard the message sent by environmental activists on February 28 regarding the need to strengthen the anti-fracking law. On March, 2, just three days after an anti-fracking rally drew up to 15,000 protesters in the small town of Barjac, France’s environment minister, Segolene Royal, addressed the issue before the National Assembly.
The rally happened a month after the administrative court of Cergy-Pontoise (Paris area) re-awarded to Total a 4,327 km2 gas permit located in the southeast of France but repealed in October 2011 following the passing of a law banning fracking. The French oil company won its legal appeal because the Montelimar permit does not mention the use of hydraulic fracturing.
The 2011 law is considered as imperfect by environmental groups because the ban does not include alternative techniques to fracking.
Royal stands firm, will present a new bill by end of June
In a Q&A session at the National Assembly on March 2, Michele Bonneton, a member of the Europe Ecologie Greens, asked Royal whether the French government is considering changing the law to present a “much needed reform of the mining code aimed to end any non-conventional hydrocarbons developments." In her questioning, she suggested that shale gas operations would "harm the environment; cause air, water and soil pollution; increase greenhouse emissions; [and] undermine the Paris climate agreement."
In her response, the environment minister stated the need to reaffirm the fracking ban. She pointed to the energy transition bill signed into law last August and the country's commitments to fight global warming in her reasoning for affirmation of the ban.
“There is a contradiction between granting permits to explore fossil fuels and the commitment we made to reduce both the production and the use of fossil fuels," Royal said.
Further, Royal made the pledge that "the ban of non-conventional hydrocarbons developments will be included in the mining code reform which will be presented before the end of this semester."
The ordinary session of the French congress starts the first business day of October and lasts for no more than 120 days until the last business day of June.