Ireland Needs to Show Solidarity in the Global Fight Against Fracking
People all over the world are fighting fracking you just won't hear that much about it in Irish media. This week after violent attacks from the police a few weeks ago, First Nations tribes people of New Brunswick, Canada, continue their battle to protect their children's health, water and land against fracking.
"This is an issue of human rights and access to clean drinking water, and it's fundamentally about sovereignty and self-determination.
Support for the Elsipogtog and their actions to reclaim lands in their territory is something that is powerful and united from coast to coast and around the world."
- Clayton Thomas-Muller, Idle No More. - http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/11/05-5
While these people stand up to the worlds most powerful industry, the people of their neighbouring provinces, Quebec and in the last few days Newfoundland, can breathe a sigh of relief for now, as both province's federal governments have placed moratoria on fracking.
"Holding one of the revoked licenses (in Quebec), Lone Pine Resources, an oil and gas company, is now launching a $250 million lawsuit against the Canadian government over Quebec’s fracking moratorium under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Although Lone Pine maintains all its operations in Canada, it’s registered in Delaware which allows it to make claims under NAFTA." - http://commonsensecanadian.ca/quebec-fracking-nafta-cha...ofit/
"The proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union (EU) and Canada would grant energy companies far-reaching rights to challenge bans and regulations of environmentally damaging shale gas development (fracking), a new briefing by Corporate Europe Observatory, The Council of Canadians and the Transnational Institute shows." - http://corporateeurope.org/pressreleases/2013/eu-canada...-bans
"This is the system to which we will be subject if the transatlantic treaty goes ahead. The US and the European Commission, both of which have been captured by the corporations they are supposed to regulate, are pressing for investor-state dispute resolution to be included in the agreement. The Commission justifies this policy by claiming that domestic courts don’t offer corporations sufficient protection because they “might be biased or lack independence.”(12) Which courts is it talking about? Those of the US? Its own member states? It doesn’t say. In fact it fails to produce a single concrete example demonstrating the need for a new, extra-judicial system.
It is precisely because our courts are generally not biased or lacking independence that the corporations want to bypass them. The EC seeks to replace open, accountable, sovereign courts with a closed, corrupt system riddled with conflicts of interest and arbitrary powers. Investor-state rules could be used to smash any attempt to save the NHS from corporate control, to re-regulate the banks, to curb the greed of the energy companies, to renationalise the railways, to leave fossil fuels in the ground. These rules shut down democratic alternatives." - http://www.monbiot.com/2013/11/04/a-global-ban-on-left-...tics/
Intensive secret lobbying by U.S. law firms on behalf of major oil and gas companies is presently taking place in Brussels. "Gathered at the Brussels office of Covington & Burling, a prominent Washington-based firm, were some of its lawyers and lobbyists, along with executives from some of the world’s largest oil companies, including Chevron and Statoil. Their aim was to help shape the European Union’s policies on the gas and oil drilling technology known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. They were meeting with Kurt Vandenberghe,then a top environmental official for Europe and a prime player in the debate over fracking, which is even more contentious in Europe than in the United States."
The current EU Commissioner for Climate Action is Connie Hedegaard. Yesterday she made herself available to answer questions via twitter. There were very few contributors to this online Q & A. No Fracking Ireland asked the commissioner "if communities continue to resist fracking will you ignore this and allow industry to over-ride wishes of communities?". This question was put to the commissioner several times, each time ignored. another contributor asked about fracking, their question was also ignored.
The major battle of course is in getting the facts and information out there to the general public. The bans and moratoria against fracking to date, have happened because of intense public protest and pressure on governments. Trying to give people the full picture and extent of the destructive nature of the fracking industry is not easy, especially in a country like Ireland where we have a very pro-industry, media culture. This has been well proven by the treatment given by state TV and national newspapers to the Shell to Sea campaign.
With fracking there are so many aspects to cover, use and contamination of water, the contribution to climate change, ponzi economics, industrialisation/contamination of land, contamination of air, serious human health risks, stalling of renewables, threat to wildlife, ecosystems, earthquakes, damage to sustainable industries, risk to food production etc etc... Because 'fracking' for shale gas and oil is only over a decade old, and has moved closer to areas where people live, many of these areas of concern are only now being discussed and documented. It will be years before we understand the full affects.
For every academic report or piece of evidence we have against fracking, industry fights back ten fold. They've got the money to have reports written when needed, on demand, plus this industry fund many of the major universities around the world. When it comes to the oil and gas industry science is a commodity. People are shocked when they hear that even the U.S. EPA have turned their back on communities and the environment in support of the frackers. Leaked U.S. EPA documents showed that the industry and the EPA were aware of water contamination but chose to keep that information from the public. - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZx8kWdWUxk
In Ireland the government and industry want to keep this issue from being properly debated, they want the majority of the public to believe this to be a NIMBY campaign. It is being portrayed in the media as a "Leitrim" or "Clare" issue and in the north as a Fermanagh issue. The fact is that there are shale formations throughout the country. When the 'options licenses' were handed out in the ROI vast areas of 11 counties were included. The demand for future water supply on this island will come from the Shannon Basin Region, the very same region the companies want to frack. It is vital for the future of this whole island that this region is protected from this industry.
To date, because of the lack of national media coverage, people are still largely uninformed. An uninformed public means the government can quietly push ahead, while informed TD's say little because there are, as they see it, "no votes in this issue". It's up to us to change that.
The fight against fracking is happening right now in communities all over the world and because of that global unity, this fight is very winnable. These communities are fighting on our behalf. The people at the fore-front of this battle in South America, the U.S., Poland, U.K., Romania etc need our support. To show our solidarity we intend to highlight what is going on in these countries. If the attitude of the vast majority in Stormont and the Dail, towards this industry, is to be heeded then the frackers are not far from our door. Public pressure has worked to secure moratoria and bans in other countries. Thankfully, we are not in the situation, for example that the U.K are in, where the companies are on the ground, drilling has commenced and people are having to fight stronger to stop the industry from pushing forward. Here we have the luxury of some time, but we need to use that time, act now and make it clear to investors, industry and government that we are awake, informed and we are saying no.
We hope you will help in whatever way you can.
Our symbol is the black shamrock.
In the words of the Lock the Gate campaign Australia, "Our resistance is non-violent but non-negotiable".
For info on local groups, events and how you can help please join and SHARE our facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/groups/146055765467930/?fref=ts
Find out further info/news etc on our website - http://frackingfreeireland.org/
On twitter @notofracking
More articles here - http://indymedia.ie/article/101995?search_text=fracking
Sign our petition here - http://nofrackingireland.wordpress.com/ find petitions for NI etc on website.