Report on the conference on shale gas
6-7 March, 2013
Beroun, Czech Republic
The conference was organized by the Coalition STOP HF stophf.cz (Czech Rep). There were representatives of 11 European countries, South Africa and USA that took part in it.
The main idea of the event was to create European and global coalition against hydraulic fracking. As a logical continuation of this STOP HF proposed to create a global environmental organization “Mother Earth Family”.
Jiri Malik (STOP HF) suggested that the coalition is needed as the extractive companies follow closely the developments in anti-shale movement and perceive seriously any kind of coalitions (especially international ones).
His second point was about the structure of future coalition: Occupy movement was not successful because of its horizontal structure and democratic approach. Therefore he suggests creating a “pyramid” with strong vertical connections and centralized decision making process. He thinks this would be more effective than existing democratic process that leads to unnecessary procrastinations.
Participants were in general agreeing on the necessity of global coalition. But the idea of Mother Earth Family has not met any support. I didn’t get what happened to the idea of European coalition, but the global coalition was eventually created. The draft name is Frack Free Network. The aim of the network is to promote ban of fracking.
Another hard point was about the target of the coalition: is it shale gas (unconventional fossil fuel) or hydraulic fracturing (method)? Eventually came to the conclusion that it is HF and have compiled a call to action (see Annex 1).
Before the meeting there was distributed the draft of the Charter of Global coalition (see Annex 2): “The coalition is led by the international brain trust (IBT). IBT is composed only of proven best national leaders. Trust managed by the Executive Board (the method of electing Board and its authority to conduct specified by IBT).”
There were much talking about logo and the name, what I personally missed was the discussion of how the network structure should look like, who will be the members of the International Brain Trust, how it will all be coordinated, etc.
As far as I understood the idea of ‘pyramid’ was not very welcomed. What was agreed instead is that there is a need of a platform for sharing of information and expertise in English. The site of coalition suits perfectly for this purpose. The site is already created (http://www.frackfreenetwork.org/), but it is still empty.
Other expectations from the coalition:
- To be a common voice to the European commission
- To keep an eye on the laws adopted in the EU
- To monitor non-English speaking countries, collect and aggregate the info
- To share the experience of successes on bans
- The PR agencies say industry is very afraid of unified force – coalition
- Consultants suggest to frackers bribing municipalities and do not underestimate the anti-fracking movement
Some ideas for campaigning:
- Local communities are not informed about the risks. We should demand for safety brochures from the companies. If people have such info it may make them start thinking about the risks!
- To think about using Espoo convention in Ukraine (we have common gas field with Poland – Lyublin one).
- People sending their photos with signature ‘Shell go home’ to the embassy of the USA.
- It is crucial to have the support of municipalities.
- To read Serge Latoushe “Le Pari de la decroissance” – about the possibility of zero growth for humanity.
The conference on the second day was attended by politicians (MEP Jiri Mastalka, parliament group European United Left/Nordic Green Left,firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Mayor of Beroun, Sarka Endrlova, Jiri Novtny, mayor of Trojanovice, RN Dr Martin Bursik, exminister of the Environment, RNDr Pavel Poc, Peter Pakostan, former senator).
Members of the European parliament RNDr.Pavel Poc and MUDr. Jiří Maštálka, President of the central bohemian region MVDr. Josef Řihák, the assistant of ThDr. Kateřina Klasnová, former Czech minister of the environment RNDr. Martin Bursík, Mayor of Beroun Ing. Šárka Endrlová, Doc. RNDr. Oldřich Fatka, CSc.
Situation in European Parliament:
The EP is not untied about fracking; the line is between the left and right wing. Rights are in favor of HF. It is not official statement, but simple statement of facts. Why it is important to have EU coalition against HF? The EC is holding public consultations on shale gas (SG). The SG lobby is not sleeping. The EC was accused by the Polish employment body that it is on the side of the opposition of the SG. It is a clear signal that lobby is moving to the Commission. The EP can cause opposition to SG but we need public support. Only the public support has persuaded EP to oppose smth. People that are in favor of extraction are contributing a lot to the public consultations.
Later there were scientific reports on SG impacts. One peculiar presentation was about aspects of geological development of Europe and North America:
Comparing America and Europe, what are the differences in shale gas formations. Some territories were covered with sea, some were dry. America was in one piece, Europe was segmented (uneven formation, the sediments are different). The areas that were covered with shallow sea in America contain shale gas. So it is impossible to compare geological conditions of America and Europe.
The water is circulating up to 500 m in depth; the gas to be drilled in Czech rep is at 1000 m depth max. About 20-40 publications on SG in geological scientific media. There are two reports in Czech Rep (2011, 2012) saying the HF is not possible for Czech Rep, but the ministry said ‘we should try’.
It is interesting that mostly all the countries except USA were saying the same: “we got to know about HF two years ago”. Either the corporations managed to keep its activities in secret until two years ago; either the “Gasland” triggered the reaction of public.
The country put ban on fracking. The coalition was informal. It was civil initiative, so called direct democracy. Two layers: grassroots and coordinating group. The group (experts in different areas) has divided tasks. The decisions are made in consultations with grassroots via Facebook. Don’t use word “risks”, fracking poisons water, soil and the air. We should use such groups as: parents, local communities, social movements. Don’t split people, but bring them together.
The situation is not grave in Denmark. In 2005 12 licenses were issued (including to Shell). One local battle was won; the EIA is to be conducted. Most likely the drilling will not happen in Denmark.
In July 2011 the law was passed on the moratorium of fracking, but it permits drilling for scientific research. People are reluctant to mobilize themselves against fracking as it is forbidden. There is a group in the Parliament that finds definition for fracking, and they put it as ‘drilling with water’, so there is a gap, if one uses gas or other liquid this operation is not under the ban anymore.
In France they have coalition “no fracking France”, trying to coordinate and organize grassroots and NGOs. We concentrate on collecting scientific arguments and inform public.
There is difference between northern and southern Ireland (different countries with different governments). Apart of SH there is coal bad methane fields there. About 55 000 people are to be affected; Dublin just wants its gas. Government has commissioned a join report into Unconventional Gas exploration and extraction.
Government proposes to ban projects with HF, but it gives a space to call it in some other way. Aarhus convention was ratified in Ireland in 2012. We try to be positive in our campaigning. Ireland has enormous agricultural potential, farmers can be allies.
Working on unconventional fossil fuel in Bxls on EU level. Coordinates work on this topic of other FoE groups in Europe. Started in the end 2011. Cooperate with Food and Water Watch. Greenpeace and WWF decided to drop this topic.
Only in 2012 EU institutions began to openly discuss the topic. The legislation was imperfect to regulate SH. The EP voted on 2 regulations on SH, the EC has commissioned 4 different studies on SG.
What can SG bring in terms of economy? And how much will it cost environmentally? We decided to work more extensively on this in 2013. The public consultations were launched. We need to debate the economy argument of SG (it could be used at the national level afterwards). We make interactive mapping of shale gas in Europe. We do not concentrate only on SG, but on coal bad methane.
The EIA Directive is to be reviewed; now it is shaped in a way that doesn’t cover shale gas.
In Austria the biggest company has decided to stop exploration as if they implement EIA before every new project that turns out to be economically not viable.
We are keen to create a platform for information sharing.
Karoo region, is highly naturally and culturally valuable area. At the moment no exploration. Public protests. They plan to go to the constitutional court. There are 5800 mines, that were never properly closed.
The situation is complex. We have ongoing fracking in Lower Saxony, in other lands we have moratorium. The government tries to change the laws in order to permit HF, but thanks to two chamber parliament, the amendments don’t pass. There is big resistance in Northern Westfalia. FoE Germany, churches and some bird protection organization – are allies. In Germany they have fracked convention and tight gas (about 300 fracks).
First country in Europe where HF started. Until 2011 we haven’t heard about such a threat, companies were good in keeping low profile. Exxon put condition – no bids, no tender for exploration, “we are just exploring”. But the trick is that the company that is exploring has priority for receiving license for “extraction” of gas.
The EU legislation is violated, the Directive 85 on public participation, and the one on use of chemicals. By the end of 2013 there should be EU Directive on SG, it would help greatly, because there is no EIA process in Poland.
The anti shale gas movement is not strong, cause NGOs are afraid to lose state subsidies. Archeology aspect is never mention.
In Poland they need to drill to the depth up to 6000 m. There is a threat of releasing of salt water into the fresh water aquifers.
There are about 20-30 exploration projects by OMV at the East of the country. All activities were put on hold Fall 2012 after compulsory environmental check enforced. About Euro 14 bln were spent on exploration. There are roughly 30 groups.
Promote the idea of HF as ecocide. When 1 000 000 signatures is collected they will pass it to the Parliament, so that the violator is punished accordingly (including business). If the IFI is financing ecocide it is to be liable.
Concession contracts are secret info. We learned about HF only in 2011.
Romania imports only about 20% of its gas consumption, so no energy security reasons. Local municipalities were opposing HF, supported protestants and elaborated law against HF. Street actions against HF up to 5 000 people. (Shevron, frack yourself, Shell go home and stay there).
NB: people sending their photos with signature ‘Shell go home’ to the embassy of the USA.
It is crucial to have the support of municipalities.
The US has 20 times SG potential as Germany and 4 times as Poland. After a crisis anything that creates jobs will do.
Coverage in the media:
Excerpt from the media coverage (in Czech, but some, like the first from Czech national TV, have video):
Beroun Challenge 2013
On the 7th of March 2013, representatives and members of groups opposed to the method of fracking (defined below) from 11 European countries, South Africa and USA agreed on the creation of a global network whose purpose is to realise a frack-free world via:
- Uniting for a frack-free world
- Sharing and promotion of information and expertise
- Branding fracking as ecocide
- Branding fracking as human rights violations
- Coordinating actions
- Inviting other countries, individuals, groups and organisations to join the global network
We believe that the only meaningful way forward is to use safer, renewable and cleaner energy sources.
Representatives from Russia, Hungary and India expressed their willingness to join the network.
We understand fracking as follows:
The technology of hydraulic fracturing / rupture / or any other technology which forces water or a mixture of fluids (or gels or liquefied gas), or chemical additives and / or fluid, mechanical and / or organic fillers in drilling wells causing the creation of new formation and / or expansion of existing natural cracks or fissure systems in all sedimentary formations, including coal seams for exploration and production of oil and natural gas.
Non-taxative examples of application of this technology include: unconventional gas extraction, shale gas, tight gas, shale oil, tight oil, CBM, etc…
We regard fracking as all the processes of exploration and exploitation including all related activities and impacts from seismic testing to after the wells are plugged.
In Beroun, Czech Republic, 7th of March 2013
CHARTER OF COALITION EUROPE / WORLD
This coalition is established with the aim to ban hydraulic fracturing of shale gas, tight gas and CBM, CSG
across Europe /World
using national campaigns
The coalition is opened for everyone, every organisation or any other subject (towns, counties, lands, states…). Towns, counties, lands, states membership in the coalition’s honorary membership without the right to manage the coalition.
The coalition is led by the international brain trust (IBT). IBT is composed only of proven best national leaders. Trust managed by the Executive Board (the method of electing Board and its authority to conduct specified by IBT).
Every state in the coalition will have its independent organisation structure. In the coalition can be antifrack each group from state, but the coalition transmits only one member to IBT.
Coalition is not political movement.
The coalitions will find known persons (actors, musicians..) for supporting of the coalition.
The IBT creates a scientific council for advisory purposes.