The ban also keeps environmentalists happy. Fracking is bad for the environment – though the fracking industry would argue that there are no studies to substantiate any of these environmental risk claims – and natural gas power plants, while cleaner than coal plants, still emit a lot of CO2.
Though nuclear generation has close to a zero carbon footprint – it does not emit carbon –, French environmentalists would still like to see nuclear power go away. But with no natural gas plants in the country, I don’t see what alternatives there are to replace France’s base load power (some private groups acquired some old coal plants betting that with all this green wave going on, old cold plants might need to come to the rescue). At this time, France is slowly but surely ramping up its renewable capacity, as renewable share will have to reach 23 percent of electricity consumption by 2020 as set by the European Union.
France Vote Outlaws ‘Fracking’ Shale for Natural Gas, Oil Extraction
By Tara Patel
French senators voted to outlaw hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, making France the first country to pass a law banning the technique for extracting natural gas and oil.
“We are at the end of a legislative marathon that stirred emotion from lawmakers and the public,” French Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet said late yesterday before the vote. Hydraulic fracturing will be illegal and parliament would have to vote for a new law to allow research using the technique, she said.
Energy companies that plan to use fracking to produce oil and gas in France will have their permits revoked and its use could lead to fines and prison, according to the law passed by a vote of 176 in favor, 151 against by the senators in Paris.
Lawmakers of the ruling UMP party voted in favor of the bill while the opposition Socialists rejected the proposal for not going far enough. Before the French vote, the ban had moved between the upper and lower houses of parliament since March.
Fracking, widely used in North America, uses a mixture of water, sand and chemicals injected under high pressure to break dense rock to release trapped oil and gas. Green groups and politicians led protests across France, saying the method could cause environmental damage. Government ministers and industry representatives say it is the only method currently available to extract hydrocarbons from the rock.
Oil companies operating in France “deplore” the French ban, according to the Union Francaise des Industries Petrolieres, or UFIP, which represents Total SA (FP) and other explorers and refiners. UFIP, it said in a statement, “considers that the law will prevent an evaluation of shale hydrocarbon resources and their impact on the French economy.”
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