The American oil and gas company Schuepbach Energy is appealing against bans ordered by mayors in France who are fighting against planned shale gas fracking in their regions.
Mayors in about 50 municipalities are being taken to court. Schuepbach Energy says the mayors have no right to ban fracking.
Schuepbach Energy, based in Dallas, Texas, has two permits for shale gas exploration: the « Villeneuve-de-Berg’ permit that covers areas of the Ardèche, and the “Nant” permit that covers large areas of the Aveyron, Gard, Lozère, and Hérault.
French MPs have voted to ban the technique of hydraulic fracturing to exploit shale gas reserves, but the licences already issued for shale gas fracking remain in place. The Senate debate has been postponed.
Opponents of shale gas fracking want a total ban on the practice. They are concerned that the multinationals holding the licences will get around the proposed restriction.
The oil giant Total holds the “Montélimar” permit, which covers one million acres northeast of Montpellier.
Shale gas fracking is highly dangerous for the environment and contaminates water supplies. It involves using a high-pressure blast of water, sand, and chemicals to create a shockwave to break open cracks deep in the earth and shift the gas into collection areas.
European MP and long-time environmental activist José Bové says there will be large-scale opposition to any attempts to exploit shale gas in France. “The parliament has given in to the industrial lobby. The government cares more about business interests than the interests of people affected.
“The protests will continue to grow. If the companies try to begin these threatened shale gas explorations, we won’t let one single truck through.”