France’s National Assembly Bans Shale Gas Developments (Again)
The lower chamber of the French parliament passed January 25 a long-anticipated reform of the mining code which includes a complete ban of any shale gas developments reviving a highly sensitive debate.
This key provision was adopted by the environment commission on January 17. The latest effort for shale gas opponents to strengthen the 2011 anti-fracking law. Environment minister Segolene Royal opened the open session on January 24 highlighting the importance to “clarify once and for all the ban of any exploration or exploitations of non-conventional resources."
The existing legislation banned hydraulic fracturing but allowed exploration for the purposes of scientific research or through potential alternative techniques.
The law was open to interpretation, according to several socialist lawmakers. “The 2011 fracking does not provide all the guarantees necessary to avoid any development of non-conventional hydrocarbons. We need to enforce the precautionary principle because what may look credible today may not be appropriate tomorrow," says Pascal Terrasse, congressman from the department of Ardeche.
(Credit: Assemblee nationale)
Also, shale gas opponents argue that oil and gas companies have not totally given up on their aspirations to explore the French subsoil. “The strategy of the oil industry is to keep their permits while hoping for a political change," says Sabine Buis (pictured above), one of the architects of the mining code reform. France is almost entirely dependent on imports for its gas supplies, some of which will originate from shale rocks in the US and delivered by tanker.