March against fracking in San Martín, Cesar by Esperanza Proxima
| FOR IMMEDIATE PUBLICATION July 15, 2019 |
Colombia makes the right move by suspending fracking project
Citing a recent court order, Colombia’s environmental authority
has suspended the licensing process for a fracking project in the
Middle Magdalena Valley. The decision represents an advance in the
movement to stop fracking’s expansion in Latin America.
|Bogotá. In an advance for the struggle against fracking in Latin America, |
Colombia’s National Environmental Licensing Authority has suspended the
licensing process for a fracking project in the Middle Magdalena Valley.
With this decision, Colombia joins a growing list of communities,
municipalities, and regions across Latin America and the world who
have made progress to stop the expansion of fracking in their territories, many
through the enactment of bans or moratoriums.
“The Environmental Authority’s decision is a positive example for
nations across Latin America and the world,” said Astrid Puentes Riaño, co-executive director of AIDA. “It’s the result of an admirable civic movement
and of the use of the precautionary principle as a tool to protect human
and ecosystems, and to confront the climate crisis.”
The decision to halt the process for Ecopetrol’s “APE Guane A” project is
founded on the State Council’s suspension, in November 2018, of the regulatory
framework for fracking in the country, citing the precautionary principle. The
Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) supports the
Council’s decision and considers the Environmental Authority’s enactment of
that order to be a step in the right direction.
“In the absence of existing regulations on fracking, in Colombia we have a
judicial moratorium. This implies that no project may be implemented that
seeks to exploit unconventional oil and gas deposits using this technique,”
explained Juana Hofman, AIDA attorney. “All activities aimed at the
development of fracking activities must be suspended.”
In its decision, the Environmental Authority states:
“… The temporary suspension of the aforementioned provisions translates to
those provisions being temporarily outside the legal system, which consequentlymeans that this Environmental Authority does not have technical regulations
that allow it to verify the management measures that should be included in the
Environmental Impact Study, to be analyzed within the environmental
assessment procedure, and thus could not determine whether or not the
granting of the environmental license required for new projects in unconventional deposits was viable.”
The suspended project involves the use of hydraulic fracturing in a boggy
complex located between the municipalities of Barrancabermeja and Puerto
Wilches in Northeast Colombia.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is an extractive technique that proves
incredibly damaging for water, air quality, human health and the
climate. It emits methane, a pollutant strongly associated with global warming.Due to its negative impacts on the environment and public health, fracking has
been prohibited by judicial or legislative means in many municipalities, regions and nations around the world, including Scotland, the state of New York (USA), and the province of Quebec (Canada).
Global efforts to stop fracking’s expansion have largely been citizen-led and
driven by concerns for the risks fracking poses to the climate, environment and public health. The Alliance for a Colombia Free from Fracking has been steadfast in their commitment to stopping fracking’s advance in Colombia, and should be congratulated for this important advance.
AIDA urges the Colombian government to continue down the path of prevention and to comply with its international environmental obligations to
confront the climate crisis, and to protect its land, water and
communities. We urge the government to deny authorizations for fracking operations in Colombia.
“Fracking is a procedure that furthers us from our climate goals, and from the
energy path that all nations should be targeting” Puentes Riaño said. “Decisions
like these are an invitation to seek out renewable energies that are better for our planet and our communities, not only in Colombia but around the world.”
Fracking in Colombia: For Real This Time? by Naki Mendoza, March 21, 2019, Americas Quarterly
The political stalemate that’s frustrated Colombia’s shale oil ambitions for the last five years isn’t over just yet. But a recent government-commissioned report that gives fracking the green light may signal a breakthrough.
The verdict, issued by a 13-person panel of experts from across industry and academia [Experts or bought and paid for frac’ers/enablers?], is not binding, nor is it a blank check for companies wanting to drill. It is instead a set of recommendations to proceed with small-scale pilot projects for fracking under strict conditions such as close monitoring and community buy-in. The government must now weigh those guidelines and decide which regulations to enforce for potential larger commercial developments.
The panel, for example, recommended closely monitoring the health of local communities and ensuring robust government oversight throughout pilot projects. Any projects that advance to commercial scale must do so with clear consent from communities, strict environmental baseline data to measure impacts, and stringent government monitoring. None of these are necessarily novel recommendations. [But companies and regulators do not like them, for obvious reasons]
Now, the green light from an independent [There’s that darling word captured media love to flout about. What’s independent about industry reviewing industry? What’s independent about most academia around the world owned by corporations?] body of experts creates legitimacy for the industry among environmental regulators. [That’s a fancy way to report on industry’s captured gong show.]
Over the next three years, Ecopetrol plans to invest $500 million on unconventional resources, starting with the shale pilot programs.
International oil companies from the U.S. and Canada have also applied to operate unconventional oil blocks in Colombia. Operationally, foreign firms backed by international experience with shale have been well-positioned for years to take on those projects. But in a country where fracking is very new, the first objective is to publicly prove the concept of sustainable shale oil and gas projects. Having Ecopetrol first out of the gates is a big step towards earning the public’s trust. [“Publicly prove the concept of sustainable shale oil and gas projects.” What flying Protti/AER/Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) shit is that? There’s nothing sustainable about frac’ing, not economically, not environmentally, not socially, etc.] Having Ecopetrol first out of the gates is a big step towards earning the public’s trust.
The pilots that Ecopetrol is applying to operate are also in strategic areas. They are located in departments in Colombia’s Middle Magdalena Valley, which is the base of much of Ecopetrol’s production. Communities there are more familiar with energy industry operations and successful pilots should, in theory, transition more easily to commercial developments
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