France has recently been reported as upholding its nationwide ban on fracking due to fears the process may cause long-term environmental damage. The move follows a number of high-profile protests against the practice in Britain, where energy firms have been allowed to undergo exploratory drilling.

What is Fracking?

Fracking involves injecting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into the ground at high pressure to crack shale rock, which holds oil and gas reserves deep underground.
However, despite efforts by US Company Schuepbach Energy to start drilling into France’s plentiful reserves, the country’s Constitutional Court upheld a 2011 moratorium on the process.

Socialist president Francois Hollande is opposed to fracking, based on the legal concept of “precaution.” He actively supports environmentalists who have associated the practice with a range of problems, including pollution and minor earthquakes.

Marc Fornacciari, Schuepbach Energy barrister, told the Paris court, “There is not a single study showing that fracking presents the slightest risk.”

The Dallas-based company tried in vain to convince the Constitutional Court that the ban in 2011 was discriminatory. But Thierry-Xavier Girardot, a representative for the French government, argued the environmental dangers of fracking were “sufficiently acknowledged” to justify a ban.

A Schuepbach Energy permit to explore shale reserves has been revoked in the Aveyron and Ardeche regions in the south of France, and the new ruling confirms this.
According to many supporters of fracking, “Fracking has revolutionised the energy industry in the USA, despite the huge amounts of water that has to be transported to a fracking site, at huge environmental cost.”

Meanwhile, anti-fracking groups explained that there are potentially carcinogenic chemicals involved in the drilling. They reported, “These carcinogenic chemicals can escape and contaminate groundwater around the fracking site, and fracking is preventing energy firms and governments from investing in renewable sources of energy, and encouraging continued reliance on fossil fuels.”

There were also two small earthquakes of 1.5 and 2.2 magnitude that hit the Blackpool area following fracking in 2011.

Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Tony Bosworth, saidl, “We need a 21st century energy revolution based on efficiency and renewable, not more fossil fuels that will add to climate change.”

Whatever the future outcome of fracking will be in France, there are fears that one day Schuepbach Energy will have its own way, as a new government is elected and reverses the decision of Francois Hollande government.

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