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Issue No. 108 - July 15, 2017

1. President Higgins signs Irish fracking ban into law

President Michael D. Higgins signed the Irish fracking ban into law

On July 6, President Michael D. Higgins signed the Irish fracking ban into law. Ireland has thus become the third European country to ban hydraulic fracturing outright, after France and Bulgaria. While Germany has banned commercial fracking, four exploratory boreholes are permitted for assessment purposes. The Irish law bans the exploration and extraction of onshore petroleum.

The passage of the ban has been welcomed by Deputy Tony McLoughlin, who proposed the bill, as well as by campaigners at the local and national levels.

Friends of the Earth Ireland, one of the many organisations that campaigned for the ban, celebrated the success of "people working together to achieve a common goal" and noted that the fracking ban is just one step toward a "zero carbon" future for Ireland:

"This new law is a historic first step for Ireland on the journey to a clean zero carbon energy system. No doubt there is lots more work to do to end peat and coal burning, to reduce our dependence on fossil fuel cars, to make sure offshore fracking never happens and to ensure we don't simply start importing fracked gas from elsewhere.... but we celebrate this victory for now!"

2. Shale Gas Bulletin Ireland announces retirement

Ireland bams fracking

For the past four and a half years, since February 2013, we have published Shale Gas Bulletin Ireland (SGBI) as a twice-monthly review of news related to hydraulic fracturing, online and as an email bulletin.

We started the SGBI because we were concerned that even though shale gas exploration licences had been granted in Ireland, the Irish media carried very little information on the dangers of hydraulic fracturing. Despite the lack of media coverage in Ireland, as concerned citizens with Internet access, we were aware of significant and growing evidence, in local testimony from the regions where fracking was occurring, as well as in peer-reviewed scientific studies, of the many adverse impacts of fracking.

Our purpose, in starting Shale Gas Bulletin Ireland, was primarily to share with Irish decision-makers the information we had. We were confident that our public representatives would not allow the practice in Ireland if they were aware of the damage it caused, in terms of human health and safety, environmental contamination, climate change, seismic instability, and social disruption, not to mention the significant economic costs and risks.

Our confidence in our legislators was not misplaced. Faced with the evidence of the harm caused by fracking, they have heeded the calls of local and national campaigners for a permanent ban. We take this opportunity to sincerely thank everyone who worked tirelessly, in the Oireachtas and outside it, to make this law a reality.

We consider this to be an appropriate moment to end the publication of Shale Gas Bulletin Ireland.

We thank everyone who has read our bulletin over the past four and a half years, and especially those who took the time to send us words of encouragement. We will leave our website up as a resource. Any topic we have covered can be found easily by entering key words in our search field.

3. Climate change news resources

Climate Change

Readers will have noticed an increasing emphasis on climate change in successive issues of Shale Gas Bulletin Ireland.

The more we learned about shale gas, the more we became aware that one of the most important reasons to ban its extraction is the contribution of methane emissions to climate change. As we have followed climate change developments, we have become increasingly convinced that banning fracking is just one of the steps that must be taken urgently to prevent catastrophic global warming. There are many others. We are heartened to note that many Irish legislators appear to share our concerns.

While we are ceasing the publication of Shale Gas Bulletin Ireland, we do not rule out a return to publication in the form of a climate change newsletter at some later stage. For now, we recommend the following online sources of climate change news (another topic largely ignored by the Irish media). A number of the sites below publish email newsletters.