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Call for more European scrutiny of shale fracking

Further Europe-wide regulation of shale gas drilling appears likely following the publication of three key reports last week.

The European Commission released three reports on shale gas drilling in Europe covering environmental risks, greenhouse gas emissions and potential contribution to gas supplies.

Environmental consultant AEA’s report on the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing - known as fracking - identified eight areas where risks to the environment are high.

These included air pollution, groundwater contamination and biodiversity.

“Fracking poses more risks with the chemicals and wastewater involved,” said AEA air and environmental quality knowledge leader Mark Broomfield. “We need greater scrutiny.”

Royal Society report

Broomfield made the call just three months after a Royal Society report declared fracking to be safe when guidelines are followed (NCE 12 July).

Broomfield added new regulation should be at European level, and there should be more baseline studies to establish the actual impact of shale gas drilling.

“In the United States, regulation is playing catch up with itself,” said Broomfield.

He added there was no way of telling whether claims that fracking had caused groundwater pollution there were accurate because there was no baseline data.

AEA’s second report - Climate impact of potential shale gas production in the EU - raises questions about the total reduction in greenhouse emissions.

The final report was published by the EU Joint Research Centre. Titled Unconventional Gas: Potential Energy Market Impacts in the European Union - it says that “shale gas production will not make Europe self-sufficient in natural gas”.

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