The temporary ban on the licensing of fracking, in place since 2013, looks set to continue indefinitely following the publication of an EPA report on the controversial fossil fuel extraction process. The report found that fracking has the potential to impact both human health and the environment.
In welcome comments from Denis Naughten, Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources, he said the prohibition should continue and suggested that future funding should be refocused from fracking to research on aquifers and water supplies.
Hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ is where water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure. The rock then fractures which allows gas to flow upward from deep underground. The gas is then collected at the surface and sold as fuel. The process has a controversial history with it implicated in the contamination of groundwater and release of toxic chemicals into the environment.
Minister Naughten welcomed the publication of the report of the EPA-led Joint Research Programme on the Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on the Environment and Human Health.
The Minister said “I believe the Report’s findings justify the continuing prohibition on the licensing of hydraulic fracturing.” He noted the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on ground water and air quality as well as the gaps in legislative oversight surrounding fracking in Ireland. He said “It has always been my view that any decision on the use of hydraulic fracturing should be made on the basis of peer-reviewed science.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland programme, Minister Naughten said “If funding does become available to carry out further research, it should be carried out in relation to aquifers and in particularly in relation to aquifers that are public water supplies or where there are problems with flooding.
In words that left little uncertainty about the future of fracking in Ireland he said “Fracking is not going to happen while I am minister and I don’t think it’s the intention of any future government to go down that road.”