Ireland: ‘Major win for environment’ as anti-fracking bill advances

A bill in Ireland to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, passed the first stage of approval on October 27 as lawmakers voted it through the country’s House of Representatives (Dáil Eireann).

According to the Irish Examiner, several attempts by opponents to delay or block the bill from being heard failed. It was introduced to parliament by Fine Gael backbench Teachta Dala (member of the Dáil — TD) Tony McLoughlin, who responded on Twitter: “A major win for the environment & for Irish politics!”

McLoughlin represents Sligo-Leitrim, a region that has been slated for potential fracking projects. Three licenses for shale gas exploration have been granted in Ireland, although no drilling has yet taken place.

Supporters of the bill repeatedly cited environmental reports that say the controversial technique — which involves blasting chemical-laden water into the ground at high pressure to release gas trapped beneath rock formations — threatens water supplies and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

Environmental advocates welcomed the news. Oisin Coghlan, director of Friends of the Earth Ireland, told the Examiner before the vote: “All party agreement tonight to progress the bill without delay would be a sign that Ireland is finally getting serious about climate action.”

Naming the bill’s opponents, Coghlan said: “On the day the Dáil voted to ratify the Paris agreement Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fine Gael risk being on the wrong side of history.”

[Abridged from Common Dreams.]

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