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Shale gas projects are absent in EU’s updated EIA

On March 12, 2014, the European Parliament (EU) supported a proposed update to make environmental impact assessments (EIAs) clearer, to ensure that EIAs take into account biodiversity and climate change, and to involve the public via a central web portal.

Approximately 200 types of projects are covered in the directive, including bridges, ports, roadways, and landfill sites.

Shale gas projects, including hydraulic fracturing, were not included in the legislation.

However, according to the EU’s press release, “new aspects of gas projects will have to be taken into account, notably the risks to human health due to water contamination, use of … Continue Reading

European Commission issues recommendation for hydraulic fracturing

On January 22, 2014, the European Commission adopted a Recommendation on the “minimum principles for the exploration and production of hydrocarbons (such as shale gas) using high-volume hydraulic fracturing.”

The Commission “invites” the 28-member states of the European Union “to apply the principles” so that hydraulic fracturing is done safely and without confusion over different environmental regulations among various nations.

The Recommendation includes the following guidelines:

  • Before issuing licenses for exploration and/or production of hydrocarbons which may include high-volume hydraulic fracturing operations, the member state “should prepare a strategic environmental assessment to prevent, manage and reduce the impacts on and
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Spain amends environmental rules to encourage energy development

On December 11, 2013, the Spanish government amended its environmental rules to address the development of shale resources and to limit the environmental review process to six months. Spain’s review process often took three, four or five years to complete a final environmental impact statement. With the shortening of the review process period to six months (four months for review, with the possibility for a two-month extension), Spain hopes to encourage energy companies to develop its resources. While not endorsing hydraulic fracturing, the central government sends a signal that it is willing to consider the process in an objective, timely, … Continue Reading

Public Health England releases draft study of health impacts from shale gas extraction

Public Health England (PHE) is an agency under the UK’s Department of Health tasked with ensuring that the public is protected from infectious disease and environmental hazards. In October 2013, PHE released for public comment its draft Review of the potential public health impacts of exposures to chemical and radioactive pollutants as a result of the shale gas extraction. Due to the limited amount of shale gas drilling in the UK, PHE relied on literature and data from countries, such as the U.S., which already have commercial scale shale gas extraction operations. From the review of these materials, PHE … Continue Reading

The European Parliament seeks to restrict hydraulic fracturing while France’s Constitutional Council upholds hydraulic fracturing ban

On October 9, 2013, the European Parliament meeting in Strasbourg, France, voted (with 328 for and 311 against) to tighten rules on hydraulic fracturing by requiring a full environmental impact assessment from oil and gas companies seeking permits to use the process. An assessment would even be required for exploratory drilling. Another round of voting in the Parliament is required to finalize the rules. In the environmental assessment, the oil and gas companies must identify and describe the direct and indirect effects of the project on the population, human health, biodiversity, land, soil, water, air, and the landscape. The member … Continue Reading

Shale Gas Producers Offered Tax Breaks in UK

On July 19, 2013, the British Government, having lifted its 18-month  ban on hydraulic fracturing late last year, proposed cutting its shale gas production income taxes from 62 percent to 30 percent in an effort to encourage shale gas development which would create more jobs and keep energy costs low for millions of people.

In June, a report from the British Geological Survey indicated that there was more than twice as much shale gas in the north of England than there was thought previously to be in the entire country (more than 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas in … Continue Reading

Spain Bans Hydraulic Fracturing in Cantabria Region

Earlier today, in an unanimous vote and supported by a strong social movement, lawmakers in Spain’s northern Cantabria region voted to ban hydraulic fracturing on environmental concerns about risks to drinking water. A coalition of Spain’s three parties led by the majority ruling People’s Party joined forces to pass the ban. While the People’s Party in Cantabria favors the complete ban of hydraulic fracturing in the region, due to local citizens’ concerns, on the national level this party supports hydraulic fracturing, believing that the development of shale gas would transform Spain’s economy at a time when the country is struggling … Continue Reading

Germany drafts hydraulic fracturing regulations

On Tuesday, February 26, 2013, the German government proposed new regulations concerning the recovery of hydrocarbons through hydraulic fracturing. These new regulations come at a point when several European governments have imposed a ban on hydraulic fracturing.
The proposed regulations would outlaw fracking in areas where there are water reserves and mineral springs and in areas near drinking water wells. All new projects would require environmental impact studies. Economy Minister Philipp Roesler stated that, while fracking offers “significant opportunities, we must always keep in view possible effects on the environment. ”

Environment Minister Peter Altmaier indicated that the proposed regulations … Continue Reading

U.K. Lifts Ban on Hydraulic Fracturing

On December 13, 2012, Edward Davey, the U.K.’s Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, announced that hydraulic fracturing could resume in the U.K., subject to new controls to mitigate the risks of seismic activity. This follows the European Parliament’s rejection of a Europe-wide moratorium on hydraulic fracturing on November 21, 2012.

In the U.K., hydraulic fracturing was banned in May 2011 after two small earthquakes occurred near Lancashire, England.

In mid-2012, the U.K. Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Royal Society, and the Royal Academy of Engineering concluded that “the health, safety, and environmental … Continue Reading

European Parliament Calls for Shale Regulation, Rejects Ban

On November 21, 2012, the European Parliament comprised of 754 representatives from the 27 Member States of the European Union (EU) approved two resolutions relating to shale oil and gas development based on reports from its Environmental, Public Health and Food Safety Committee and its Industry, Research and Energy Committee, both of which studied shale gas and oil extraction activities.

These resolutions call for each member state to establish “robust regulations” for all shale activities and to use caution in developing shale gas and oil resources with hydraulic fracturing.

The European Parliament decided that each member state should determine whether … Continue Reading

Injection Wells and Their Possible Link to Seismic Activity

The use of injection wells, a preferred method for disposal of various fluids such as wastewater or brine (salt water), is a popular topic in the news media lately due to a suspected link between use of these wells and earthquakes.

Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, the United Kingdom, and most recently Youngstown, Ohio and central West Virginia have been experiencing frequent, small earthquakes. On New Year’s Eve, a 4.0 magnitude earthquake struck just outside of Youngstown, Ohio. This quake was just one of 11 earthquakes experienced in the area since March, 2011.

D&L Energy, whose affiliate Northstar Disposal Services LLC operates Continue Reading