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Climate Action: France Bans Fracking for Shale Gas

by on July 7, 2011

France has become the first country to ban fracking.  The drilling technique has come under increased scrutiny due to a rapid increase in its use for the production of shale gas.  Bloomberg reports:

Energy companies that plan to use fracking to produce oil and gas in France will have their permits revoked and its use could lead to fines and prison, according to the law passed by a vote of 176 in favor, 151 against by the senators in Paris.

Under the bill approved yesterday, companies with exploration permits will have two months to declare whether they intend to use hydraulic fracturing. If they do, their permits will be revoked.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, pumps water, sand and chemicals underneath shale formations to force out trapped gas or oil. The discovery of massive reservoirs around the U.S. has caused a shale gas boom, driving down prices and encouraging additional investment in natural gas infrastructure. While the U.S. and Canada lead the market, Australia, China India and various European countries have also started using the fracking technique for shale gas.

While some organizations like the IEA call this “The Golden Age of Gas,” the environmental issues around fracking have tainted the resource’s image:  some communities around the U.S. are complaining of contaminated water; researchers have reported on methane leaks in water supplies and also suggested that the lifecycle GHG footprint is higher than assumed; and a recent examination of industry documents suggests that estimates of shale gas reservoirs may be over-estimated – with one analyst suggesting they were “a giant Ponzi Scheme.”

It’s unclear whether the French ban on fracking will embolden political leaders or environmental groups in other countries to do the same. In the U.S., New York is opening itself up to more fracking.  In New Jersey, legislators passed a ban on the technique, even as the state seeks to build 2 GW of new natural gas plants.  Source Climate Progress

  • Studies Agree: Shale gas full cycle greenhouse gas emissions are higher than coal Source Post Carbon
  • ‘Fracking’ Mobilizes Uranium in Marcellus Shale Source Sustainable Business
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