Lack of legislation on environmental impact of fracking by Maria Alice Doria, February 16 2015, International Law Office: Delivering expert knowledge to global counsel, Globe Business Publishing Ltd
The Public Attorney’s Office has brought a claim against the introduction of fracking on the basis that there is a lack of legislation regarding its environmental impact. For example, no regulations establish a procedure for the grant of environmental permits or outline the required environmental studies.
The states of Bahia, Piaui and Parana have issued preliminary injunctions in support of the Public Attorney’s Office in order to suspend the effects of the Agency for Oil, Natural Gas and Biofuels’ (ANP) 12th bidding round for the exploration of shale gas reserves in the Reconcavo, Parnaiba and Rio Parana basins. Pursuant to these injunctions, the ANP’s bidding round has relied on superficial studies and has not considered Technical Opinion 119/2008, issued by the Inter-ministerial Working Group for Oil and Gas Exploration and Production, which highlighted the absence of an environmental legislative framework on hydraulic fracturing within the legal system, as well as the lack of geological studies of the exploration areas.
The injunctions will remain in force until:
- the National Environmental Council enacts specific legislation to regulate the environmental impact of fracking; and
- the Environment Ministry and the Mines and Energy Ministry conduct an environmental evaluation of sedimentary areas.
… Although fracking was developed in the late 1940s, the method became economically viable only in 1990, due to the significant increase in natural gas prices. Since then, it has become widespread. However, despite the economic benefits obtained from the use of shale gas, the issue has become highly controversial due to the potential health and environmental effects of fracking (eg, water and soil contamination, air pollution and tectonic plate movements).
The growing opposition to fracking in Brazil is part of a global movement against this technique of extracting shale gas. Several European countries (eg, France and the Netherlands) have banned the practice. The anti-fracking movement has also gained strength in many US states.
Considering the global anti-fracking movement, the public authorities were arguably too hasty in holding the 12th bidding round without performing proper studies on the potential environmental risks involved in fracking or establishing a legal environmental framework applicable to shale gas exploration. [Emphasis added]