Risks of shale gas extraction
Shale gas extraction, also called fracking, uses toxic chemicals to force gas out of reservoirs in the ground.
The process poses several major risks to the environment and human health because it can pollute the air and contaminate groundwater.
Since fracking accidents are quite frequent (occurring in around 1-2% of all operations), associated leaks, spills and blowouts can cause even more severe damage.
In addition, uncontrolled discharges of wastewater can exacerbate the environmental impact of shale gas extraction.
Furthermore, any fracking operation entails the use of extensive tracts of land, e.g. the destruction of forests and farmland. At the same time, there is no proper EU legislation on fracking.
What was the Greens' position?
The Greens believe that fracking involves too many risks to be used in the EU.
Moreover, in our view it merely increases our consumption of fossil fuels like natural gas, thus accelerating climate change. Methane emissions during the extraction process amplify this effect.
We therefore argue that the Member States should be very cautious about using fracking as a source of energy. If fracking is used (and Poland in particular is keen to take this technology further), it must be governed by strict environmental provisions.
We also believe that fracking should be banned in sensitive areas, that the 'polluter pays' principle should apply and that impact assessments should cover the full life cycle of extraction sites.
Finally, we insist that fracking operations should not be allowed to benefit from public funding.
Did other MEPs accept the Greens' position?
The Greens successfully pressed for the incorporation of most of our demands into the final text.
This proved no easy matter, because in the first draft of Parliament's resolution on the matter Polish EPP member Boguslaw Sonik favoured fracking.
Parliament also demanded the inclusion of close monitoring of groundwater quality and of a burden-of-proof provision to ensure that fracking companies remain liable for any environmental damage they cause.
Which points did the Greens lose?
The Greens were unable to delete passages that described fracking as a back-up of our gas supply and a factor that enhances the EU's competitiveness.
Unfortunately, the report still cites shale gas as an alternative to coal and oil.
Lead MEP:Bogusław Sonik (EPP)
Green MEP responsible:Michèle Rivasi, Carl Schlyter
Staff contact:Terhi Lehtonen (Email)
Outcome of the vote
Below you find the results of the final vote in plenary. How did the political groups vote? What about national delegations? And what was the position of your MEP?