Green-lighting Shannon LNG project a "profoundly retrograde step", says An Taisce
￼The government has until Weds 23rd October 2019 to remove the Shannon liquid natural gas (LNG) project from the list of EU Projects of Common Interest(1). Green-lighting this LNG project would be a profoundly retrograde step and would be totally at odds with both our climate targets and Ireland’s existing national ban on fracking, according to An Taisce.
The notion of opening a massive terminal to facilitate the import of fracked gas from the US after Ireland has introduced a domestic ban on gas fracking defies all logic and flies in the face of expert scientific advice regarding emissions reductions. Well-known figures, including Hollywood actor, Mark Ruffalo and Dublin’s Lord Mayor, Paul McAuliffe have publicly voiced concern at this proposed move, which would give the Shannon LNG project a fast-track to planning approval, as well as access to major EU funding streams.
The European Commission has confirmed that no assessments of the project’s environmental or sustainability impacts have been carried out, despite the requirement under EU regulations that the European Commission carry out such an assessment. An Taisce agrees with the position expressed by Green Party MEP, Ciaran Cuffe that failure to undertake such an assessment is “utterly unacceptable”.
Just last week, Sweden withdrew an LNG project terminal in the Port of Gothenburg from the EU’s Projects of Common Interest list, citing concerns over climate change. Health professionals, NGOs and advocates recently sent a letter (2) to the Taoiseach asking Ireland to block this project, which would re-energise the fracking industry and increase human suffering and pollution in the affected areas, particularly Pennsylvania in the US.
“The science is now clear that natural gas is not a 'transition fuel' – it is a steep cliff to climate catastrophe”, the group added. An Taisce notes that from a climate impacts perspective, fracked gas may be worse than even coal (3). The proposed Shannon LNG terminal, operated by New Fortress Energy, will be capable of processing more than six million gallons of LNG daily and could be part-funded by the Irish taxpayer. “This project locks us into an unsustainable, fossil-fuelled energy system for the foreseeable future, using fracked gas, which may be as environmentally damaging as coal or even peat burning”, according to An Taisce. Apart from the emissions from burning this fossil fuel, hydraulically fractured (‘fracked’) gas contaminates groundwater and soil, leads to substantial fugitive methane emissions and can increase the risk of earthquakes.
Having banned fracking within Ireland, it would be hypocritical in the extreme for us to build infrastructure that directly enables fracking in the US and other countries. Therefore, it is essential that Minister Bruton removes Shannon LNG from the list of Projects of Common Interest.
(1) Projects of common interest (PCIs) are key cross-border infrastructure projects linking energy systems in EU countries to enable energy policy, including long-term decarbonisation, in accordance with the Paris climate change agreement. Projects placed on this list receive the highest priority in terms of state support.
John Gibbons, PRO (087-2332689)
Theresa O’Donohoe, (089-4798417) An Taisce Climate Committee (Clare resident)