Dáil progresses offshore drilling ban bill

Dáil progresses offshore drilling ban bill

Proposed legislation targeting a ban on companies drilling for oil and gas in Irish waters has progressed in the Dáil.

People Before Profit's Climate Emergency Measures bill has won the support to go before the select committee on climate change and the environment. The motion was initially passed last year but has been in procedural limbo for some months at Joint Oireachtas committee stage, where a number of senators helped block its progress.

People Before Profit will now lobby for the bill's early inclusion in the select committee's scheduling. The Party claims to have enough backing on the TD-only select committee to progress the bill to report stage in the Dáil - where final amendments can be offered. But, that could prove a challenge to its progress as reports are generally debated on Government time and Fine Gael opposes the bill.

Industry representative group the Irish Offshore Operators' Association - IOOA - expressed disappointment in the bill being referred to the select committee.

"The oil and gas industry is licensed by Government to operate in Irish waters and is investing in Ireland. It has the potential to create 1,500 jobs per annum and deliver up to €11bn to the exchequer for a single commercial discovery," it said.

"While we recognise that the transition to lower carbon needs to happen, any associated policy must be based on evidence and be fully costed. Unfortunately, this bill is neither. It will have no positive impact on, and could even increase, Ireland’s emissions. It could make Ireland's energy supply even more vulnerable, tie us into a future of oil and gas importation and see the exchequer lose out on a significant revenue stream," the organisation said.

"We will continue to engage with all stakeholders at the next stage of the legislative process, as part of an ongoing, collaborative conversation on Ireland’s energy future," the IOOA said.

People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith said the Government's attempt to "wreck" the bill had failed and it "should now proceed through the Dáil to become law".

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