The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has denied accusations it commissioned a pro fracking group to help carry out a major study on the gas extraction method.
The outcome of the EPA study into fracking which is expected by July 2016 will advise the Government on the safety and risks involved with hydrulic fracking. A moritoirum on fracking has been placed until after this important report is published. The consortium for the study comprises CDM Smith Ireland, the British Geological Survey, UCD, Queens University Belfast, AMEC Foster Wheeler, and Philip Lee Solicitors. The descision to include CDM Smith has been met with much concern.
EPA Deputy Director Dara Lynott appeared before the Oireachtas Transport and Communications Committee last week. Fianna Fáil Senator Paschal Mooney from Drumshanbo said he had a “serious concern” about the independence of a two-year study into fracking because of the involvement of CDM Smith.
“CDM Smith are cheerleaders for the fracking industry... It was an extraordinary decision in my mind to engage them,” said Sinn Féin TD Michael Colreavy, who has no confidence in the research report. “I cannot see how any reasonable person will be able to accept the results of this research as being independent.” Love Leitrim has asked for an immediate halt to this “flawed research.”
Roscommon-South Leitrim Independent TD Denis Naughton criticised the record of Amec Foster Wheeler also, because of a previous “miscalculation” by them which he said “led two peat fired power plants having to be shut down and completely refitted.”
The EPA defended their consortium, noting the decision was made following an open tender process, evaluated by 27 people across a range of bodies. “All of the consortium members were required to sign a conflict of interest form, which they did. We are happy that the group that is doing the research is eminently qualified, will do the research in a peered-reviewed manner, independent, and will be fit for purpose.”
Tamboran Resources had intended to commence Ireland’s first exploratory fracking project in Fermanagh, but is now suing two departments within the Stormont Executive after its plans were rejected late last year.
In a close vote in the European Parliament on June 10, MEPs voted to urge Member States ‘not to authorise any new operations involving the exploration or extraction of unconventional fuels within the EU until this is proven to be safe for the environment, citizens and workers’. Independent MEP Marian Harkin said it was a strong statement from the EU, but she was disappointed that the overall report on Energy Security was rejected.
Good Energies Alliance Ireland (GEAI) welcomed the anti-fracking EU symbolic vote.