'Major Win for Environment': Bill to Ban Fracking in Ireland Moves Forward

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'Major Win for Environment': Bill to Ban Fracking in Ireland Moves Forward

Bill approved by nation's House of Representatives as environmental advocates celebrate progress

Supporters of the bill repeatedly cited environmental reports that say fracking threatens water supplies and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change. (Photo: Seán Ó Domhnaill/flickr/cc)

A bill in Ireland to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, passed the first stage of approval on Thursday as lawmakers voted it through the country's House of Representatives (Dáil Éireann).

According to the Irish Examiner, several attempts by opponents to delay or block the bill from being heard failed. It was introduced to parliament by Fine Gael backbench Teachta Dála (TD) Tony McLoughlin, who responded on Twitter, "A major win for the environment & for Irish politics!"

McLoughlin represents Sligo-Leitrim, a region that has been slated for potential fracking projects. Three licenses for shale gas exploration have been granted in Ireland, although no drilling has yet taken place. Supporters of the bill repeatedly cited environmental reports that say the controversial technique—which involves blasting chemical-laden water into the ground at high speeds to release gas trapped beneath rock formations—threatens water supplies and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change.

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Environmental advocates also welcomed the news.

Oisin Coghlan, director of Friends of the Earth Ireland, told the Examiner before the vote, "All party agreement tonight to progress the bill without delay would be a sign that Ireland is finally getting serious about climate action."

Ireland is the second-to-last European Union country to sign onto the landmark Paris climate agreement.

Naming the bill's opponents, Coghlan said, "On the day the Dáil voted to ratify the Paris agreement Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fine Gael risk being on the wrong side of history."

Mary Church, head of campaigns for the climate group Friends of the Earth Scotland, responded to the bill's passage, "The Irish Parliament has decided that the risks of opening up a new frontier of dirty fossil fuels are just too great."

"This bill is the result of years of grassroots campaigning, with people across the country raising awareness of the many dangers of the fracking industry and forcing their representatives to act," Church said. "Support for fracking across the U.K. is at an all time low. People just don't want this dirty, dangerous industry."

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