TD Tony McLoughlin’s Bill is the third legislative proposal before the Republic of Ireland to ban fracking, the previous two:
- Private Members Bill by Richard Boyd Barrett (PBP): The Prohibition of Hydraulic Fracturing Bill 2015;
- A bill to ban the process of fracking in Ireland was brought by Sinn Féin Deputies Martin Kenny and Brian Stanley, The Petroleum and Other Minerals Development (Amendment) Bill 2016.
WATCH: Prohibition of the Exploration and Extraction of Onshore Petroleum Bill 2016 0:55 Min. by Tony McLoughlin TD, June 8, 2016
This Bill has one simple goal, this being to protect Ireland’s onshore and internal waters, our climate and, as such, Irish citizens’ public health from the damaging effects of exploration and extraction of onshore petroleum. The Bill is proposed with the full support of my constituents in counties Leitrim and Sligo who would be those most affected by this type of action.
AN BILLE AS GAEILGE, 2016
PROHIBITION OF EXPLORATION AND EXTRACTION OF ONSHORE PETROLEUM BILL 2016
The purpose of this bill is to provide for a clear an unequivocal position in relation to the exploration and extraction of petroleum from shale rock, tight sands and coal seams in the Irish onshore and Ireland’s internal waters.
The bill ensures the prohibition of any exploration or extraction of petroleum from rock that requires additional processes to increase the permeability of the rock and aid in the extraction of petroleum from lithologies, shale rock, tight sands and coal seams.
This bill therefore prohibits:
• The issue of any undertaking, consent, licence or permit for the exploration, prospecting or leases or other permissions to facilitate the extraction of petroleum from within the state from shale rock, tight sands and coal seams;
• The use of any processes to increase the permeability of shale rock, tight sands and coal seams for the purpose of extracting petroleum;
• Any Minister, Agency of the State or Body acting on behalf of the State to engage in prospecting or exploration of petroleum from shale rock, tight sands and coal seams;
• The development of any infrastructure or facilities required for such extraction within the
• The processing or and/or disposal of any fluid or waste used in extraction processes within the State.
The act of extraction of petroleum from shale rock, tight sands and coal seams requires a process commonly referred to as ‘unconventional petroleum extraction’ or ‘unconventional oil and gas extraction’. This method includes drilling a well to reach the targeted geological deposit and requires the use of additional processes to increase the permeability of the rock for the purpose of stimulating natural gas or oil well production.
This can include, but is not limited to the process of fracturing rock by man-made high pressure fluid-driven fracturing techniques, including hydraulic fracturing. Fluids used in these process may include water or a fluid combined with chemicals and/or sand that are pumped into the well. A percentage of the fluid, and any petroleum is then drawn out of the well through the overlying geological deposits and groundwater.
Context for introduction of this Bill.
1. Pollution risk to water
This Bill is proposed in the context of Ireland’s ongoing and significant failures in respect of the European Union’s Water Framework Directive. The Water Framework Directive (Article 4.1) requires that: “Member States shall implement the necessary measures to prevent deterioration of the status of all bodies of surface water and groundwater” and that they “shall protect, enhance and restore” all bodies of surface water and groundwater with the aim of achieving good surface water and groundwater status at the latest 15 years after the date of entry into force of this Directive…”. With 47% of Irish rivers and 57% of Irish lakes failing to meet good ecological status, Ireland failed to comply with this by the deadline of 22nd December 2015.
The process of extraction of petroleum from shale rock, tight sands and coal seams risks contaminating ground water with polluting fluids which when pumped into shale rock, tight sands or coal seams is uncontained and free to flow into overlying geological layers or groundwater reserves, and risks contaminating overlying ground water with petroleum which once released may travel unconstrained to overlying geological layers or groundwater aquifers. Further contamination of water, and land can occur through leaks or accidents associated with the well or the storage and disposal of waste fluids. There are also additional chemical contamination risks posed by transportation of chemicals to drilling sites and the storage of high volumes of fluids (millions of litres) that are produced through the drilling process.
2. Pollution risk to atmosphere, contributing to climate change
This bill is proposed in the context of the December 2015, Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCC which established an ambition to reduce global warming “Holding the increase in the global average temperatures to well below 2oC above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 oC above pre-industrial levels, recognising that this would significantly reduce the risk and impacts of climate change”.
It is also proposed in the context of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2016, the National transition objective of which is “to achieve a low carbon climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy”
The use of hydrocarbons from shale rock, tight sands and coal seams for heating or electricity purposes contributes greenhouse gases to the atmosphere which leads to increased global warming, and will increase Ireland’s carbon emissions. Current analysis from the Environmental Protection Agency suggests Ireland will not reach its EU 2020 emissions reductions targets. The use of hydrocarbons sourced from shale rock, tight sands or coal seams will make it even harder to reduce emissions in the energy sector and will result in an overall increase in Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions. Globally to ensure runaway climate change is prevented, it is understood that the majority, at least 2/3 of known reserves of oil and gas must remain unburnt. Extracting gas or oil from Ireland’s onshore unconventional reserves is directly in conflict with this position.
3. The Precautionary Principle and the rights of future generations to healthy and safe environments
This Bill is also motivated by the Precautionary Principle of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union (Consolidated versions of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union 2012/C 326/01) which provides for the Precautionary Principle in Article 191(2) – and which underpins all EU Environmental legislation and consequently associated Irish legislation, in stating:
“2. Union policy on the environment shall aim at a high level of protection taking into account the diversity of situations in the various regions of the Union. It shall be based on the precautionary principle and on the principles that preventive action should be taken, that environmental damage should as a priority be rectified at source and that the polluter should pay.”
It is also proposed in the context of Ireland ratification of the Aarhus Convention, which establishes the right of every person of present and future generations to live in an environment adequate to his or her health and well-being. [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to:
“By any responsible account,” Chief Justice Castille wrote, “the exploitation of the Marcellus Shale Formation will produce a detrimental effect on the environment, on the people, their children, and the future generations, and potentially on the public purse, perhaps rivaling the environmental effects of coal extraction.” ]
AN BILLE UM THOIRMEASC AR PHEITRILIAM I DTÍR MÓR A THAISCÉALADH
AGUS A ASTARRAINGT, 2016
PROHIBITION OF THE EXPLORATION AND EXTRACTION OF ONSHORE
PETROLEUM BILL 2016
An Act to provide for the prohibition of the exploration and extraction of petroleum
from shale rock, tight sands and coal seams in the Irish onshore and Ireland’s internal
Be it enacted by the Oireachtas as follows:
1. In this Act—
“coal seams” means a layer or stratum of mineral coal;
“Irish onshore and Ireland’s internal waters” means all the land comprising the Republic of Ireland and its onshore lakes, rivers and streams;
“petroleum” includes any mineral oil or relative hydrocarbon and natural gas and other
liquid or gaseous hydrocarbons and their derivatives or constituent substances existing in its natural condition in strata which can be extracted and refined to produce fuels
including petrol, paraffin, oil, diesel, liquid natural gas or natural gas;
“shale rock” means a fine-grained sedimentary rock that forms from the compaction of
silt and clay-size mineral particles which readily splits into thin pieces along its
laminations and which contains organic material that sometimes breaks down to form
natural gas or oil;
“tight sands” are low permeability sandstone reservoirs that produce primarily dry
natural gas. A tight gas reservoir is one that cannot be produced without assistance from stimulation treatments to increase permeability to aid extraction.
2. Notwithstanding the provisions of any other Act of the Oireachtas no Minister, Agency,
Planning Authority or Body acting on behalf of the State shall grant an authorisation and/
or grant of any consent, licence, permit, lease or undertaking for the exploration or
extraction of petroleum from shale rock, tight sands or coal seams in the Irish onshore
and Ireland’s internal waters.
3. This Act may be cited as the Prohibition of the Exploration and Extraction of Onshore
Petroleum Act 2016.
Fine Gael T.D. for Sligo – Leitrim Tony McLoughlin has begun the process of developing new legislation which he hopes will result in the prohibiting of the exploration and extraction of petroleum from shale rock, tight sands and coal seams in the Irish onshore and Ireland’s internal waters.
“As a T.D. for counties which would be decimated if fracking was allowed to occur, I want to see action on this issue by the new Government” stated McLoughlin.
“The decision process with relation to formulating Government policy on fracking has gone on too long in my opinion and we now are in a position where we need to take action on the issue”.
“There is clear evidence already in the public domain about the damaging effects of this practice of extraction”. “We are also aware that the basin in Ireland is too shallow for it to be conducted safely and without damage to the environment”.
“Several Common Law Jurisdictions, similar to our own, have already taken legislative steps to ban the practice”. “I now want Ireland and this Government to follow this international trend and quickly”.
“There are some very worrying developments occurring in Northern Ireland with regard to fracking, which both Sinn Féin or the DUP have not been able to prevent”. “I do not want to see a similar situation occur in this State”.
“With regard to the Private Members Bill I am submitting, I have received technical advice as to the wording of this Bill from experts in the field, which will hopefully enable it to pass through the pre-legislative scrutiny element very quickly”.
I have also wrote to the new Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources, Denis Naughton T.D. to suggest to him to consider implementing this legislation which would prohibiting fracking from occurring in the Republic of Ireland.
Ends [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to: