The Government has been accused of hypocrisy as it is to back proposals for a Kerry-based Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) import terminal that would, if approved, facilitate the import of fracked gas from the US.
The move comes after the country has introduced a domestic ban on gas fracking. The European Commission is due to meet to consider approval for the Shannon LNG project near Ballylongford, with the government supporting the inclusion of the project on the EC’s Projects of Common Interest list.
The Government’s support has drawn criticism from climate activists, including Avengers actor Mark Ruffalo.
“Ireland is an international leader on climate change with its ban on fracking. For the climate and for public health, it would be disastrous to allow US fracked gas mix into Ireland's energy,” Mr Ruffalo tweeted.
Say No to US Fracked Gas in Ireland! Put the lives of people and the environment over the profits of the dirty #fracked gas industry.— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) October 3, 2019
Please remove the 'Shannon LNG' terminal from Friday's @EU_Commission meeting. @FineGael @LeoVaradkar https://t.co/7kacdeQcpH
An Taisce said the move represents "a leap backwards for climate action".
"Shipping this environmentally damaging product thousands of miles across the Atlantic to have it burned in Ireland is the very opposite of climate action. We need to be rapidly decarbonising our energy systems, not replacing one bad system with an equally dangerous alternative,” John Gibbons, An Taisce spokesperson on Climate Action, said.
The Government support was debated in the Dáil, where it was roundly criticised by opposition TDs.
“It is simply not acceptable that on the one hand we say we are against fracked gas in the State and ban it while saying it is okay for us to import it. How is that anything other than hypocrisy?” Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane said.
Climate Action Minister Richard Bruton said he is “aware of the concerns that some sources of natural gas, such as fracked gas can have higher levels of fugitive gases which generate additional greenhouse gases in the form of methane than other sources of natural gas”.
He said the LNG proposal comes at a time when the Corrib Field supply is expected to decline significantly during the next decade, and amid security of supply concerns given the UK’s exit from the EU.
“I have instructed my officials to ask the European Commission whether the implications of importing LNG, conventionally and unconventionally extracted, into the European Union has been examined in terms of a sustainable, secure and competitive European energy policy and if not that should be undertaken,” Mr Bruton said.