Legal opinion shows that fracked gas import ban is possible
Posted by Jerry Mac Evilly on March 01, 2021 at 06:53 PM
Friends of the Earth is working to prevent lock-in of fossil fuels in Ireland and our primary focus is on fracked gas and LNG infrastructure. There are currently 5 proposed LNG terminals in Ireland, with plans to turn Ireland into the gateway location to transport more fossil gas though Ireland into the UK.
Banning the import of fracked gas through LNG terminal would make sure Ireland ends its reliance on fossil gas and progressively reduces its polluting emissions. It would help to align our energy system with Ireland’s world-leading domestic ban on fracking, which was introduced in 2017. It would also be a powerful message of solidarity to the communities around the world who are suffering the impacts of fracking. These communities are battling with fracking associated health impacts, water contamination and disruption to their homes and livelihoods. The global trade in LNG is being fuelled by the boom in fracking. And LNG transport infrastructure, such as LNG terminals that are proposed to be built in Ireland would serve to keep that fracking boom going. By banning these terminals in Ireland we can help disrupt this devastating circuit.
Last year Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin signed a statement stating that "Both of our parties accept that as we move towards carbon neutrality, it does not make sense to build new large scale fossil fuel infrastructure such as liquefied natural gas import terminals". The 2020 Programme Government includes commitments to developing a policy statement to prevent the importation of fracked gas. The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action recommended in December 2020 that the Government consider using the Climate (Amendment) Bill, which is about to progressed through Oireachtas, to “ban the importation of fracked gas and specifically to ban LNG terminals in Ireland” as an effective way to deliver on another significant commitment in the Programme for Government.
In February 2021 Friends of the Earth issued a joint statement with NUI Galway Human Rights Clinic and grassroots anti-fracking groups. We called on the Government to honour their Programme for Government promise to ban fracked gas imports and to follow the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action. This was also accompanied by an important legal opinion which addresses previous Government questions as to whether a legislative ban on fracked gas imports would breach International trade law. Human rights researchers from NUI Galway produced a legal analysis which shows that a ban on fracked gas can be included in the forthcoming Climate Bill. The legal opinion, which you can read here, demonstrates that the proposed statutory ban is compatible with EU, EFTA and WTO trade rules, in light of impacts on human health, the environment and fundamental rights, as well as extra-territorial impacts.
This legal opinion also puts forward proposed amendments to the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development Act 1960 to effect a prohibition on the importation and sale of foreign fracked gas in Ireland. It contains evidence of the impacts of fracking on the environment and health both at source and globally and sets out current public support for a prohibition on the importation or sale of foreign fracked gas.
Click here to read the Legal Opinion on the compatibility with EU, EFTA, WTO trade rules of proposed amendments to the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development Act 1960 to prohibit the importation or sale of fracked gas