More risk in extracting shale gas than natural gas, says commissioner

Tue, Nov 20, 2012, 00:00

There are more risks in the extraction of shale gas than conventional natural gas, the EU commissioner on the environment has said.

Janez Potocnik said it would do nobody any favours if shale gas production were pushed through without the proper safeguards.

He will reveal a new framework for hydraulic fracturing (fracking) across Europe today when he addresses MEPs in the European Parliament.

The commissioner told an audience at the Institute of European Affairs in Dublin yesterday that he had his own views about fracking but in the interest of collegiality with other members of the European Commission, he would not be revealing them.

However, he said the commission was taking a neutral approach to fracking at present, with some states moving faster than others towards commercial extraction.

“While shale gas offers great opportunities, it also poses new challenges to the environment. We need to ensure clear, transparent rules from the outset.”

Mr Potocnik said it would only take one major accident and “you have a real problem forever, and it would not be in the interest of the energy companies, let alone the public, if the risks were not managed properly.

“It is important that those fears are handled in the most efficient way, otherwise everybody will suffer.”

Mr Potocnik said Ireland’s 40 shades of green needed one more to be added – the green economy.

With the global market for eco-industries estimated at a trillion euros and expected to double over the next 10 years, he said green growth was vital for recovery.

He also spoke of the challenges for Ireland in municipal waste disposal where landfill still played a major role.

He said implementing EU waste legislation would mean several thousand jobs in Ireland and €600 million extra in job turnover annually.