EU waives to regulate shale gas exploitation

gaz-de-schiste The environmentalists hoped a proper legislation about the exploitation of shale gas in the European Union but the project  could divided the Member States. Thus the  Brussels Commission decided to renounce by enacting legislation on the exploration and  extraction of shale gas, preferring to send  a simple and non -legally binding  advice to  European capitals.


This decision represents an unfavorable arbitration for Janez Potocnik, European Commissioner for the Environment who wanted to restrict the environmental impact of fracking, the only technique used to extract shale gas yet. He was supported by MEP’s and, more weakly, by some states such as France and Germany. The first banned the use of fracking on its territory since the law of 13 July 2011 and the second one banished it in water-rich areas.

However the bill aroused the strong opposition from countries like the United Kingdom, Poland and Romania anxious, like the United States, to engage the exploitation of these unconventional resources to have long term reduction in energy bills.


Torn between these two movements, José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, ruled in favor of non-binding principles towards the Member States. “Many environmental legislation on water and mining waste, for instance,  already provide a framework for the exploration and exploitation of shale gas” explains a senior official from the Commission, “there is no need at this stage of further regulation“.

Therefore the document  that will be presented January 22 chose to propose non-binding principles in order to standardize the conditions for extraction of unconventional oil and gas. “A site should be chosen only if the risk analysis demonstrates no direct injection of pollutants into groundwater tables are the result of a high-volume fracking” indicates the document. It also states in the wake of some “operational requirements” expected to reduce the impact on the environment – water in particular – the techniques used to extract the oil. The text suggests, among other things, to inform residents when some specific and poisonous chemicals are used or not in a field. “Enhanced transparency should facilitate public acceptance of these technologies” trusts the recommendation. Freedom is left to each government, if it wishes, to go beyond this advice.


 Nonetheless, the European Commission wanted to point out the risks coupled with the extraction of shale and oil gas, deploring  the lack of coordination between European capitals.

The United Kingdom from its part has decided to leave the moratorium concerning the exploitation of shale gas, following to the occurrence of a minor tremor caused by drilling near of Blackpool. It is no surprise that London, with other capitals, has made a strong lobbying order that Brussels should not legislate.



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