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A European Parliament (EP) committee is winding up a debate Thursday on possible EU-wide legislation on shale gas – a move opposed by a recent report by the Polish Institute of International Affairs.

Poland – which could be sitting on Europe’s largest deposit of shale gas – has been moving away from backing a EU-wide strategy on the energy source.

The Polish Institute of International Affairs report, presented at the EP’s energy committee this week, concludes that, “because of the complexity and breadth of this debate, it seems infeasible to consider introducing a comprehensive legal or regulatory framework [on shale gas] within the EU”.

Polish MEP (Civic Platform) Lena Kolarska-Bobinska told Polish Radio that shale gas is a huge opportunity for Poland to become more energy independent.

“Above all, it’s important for us that shale gas is treated as an alternative source of energy, as a real opportunity, and not as a fantasy,” she said.

Test drilling involving Poland’s state gas company and multinationals for shale gas deposits began this summer.


France, however, has been leading the campaign against shale gas ‘fracking’ – the process by which the gas is extracted from rock – and has revoked three production licences in the south of the country in fear that the process is environmentally dangerous.

Jose Bove, the radical French Green MEP who briefly made international news in the 1990s by bulldozing a McDonald’s outlet, is leading the bid to gather signatures in the European Parliament calling for a ban on fracking.

“We have a lot of scientific information about how the hydraulic fracturing method, namely the application of water with chemicals into rocks, will have a negative effect on the environment,” Bove claimed in an interview with Polish Radio.

However, to date, Bove has managed to gather less than 100 MEPs’ signatures, well below the majority needed to push through the petition.

Regardless of this week’s debate, the EU has already announced that it is collecting its own specialist reports on the matter, and next year it will outline its proposed regulations on shale gas extraction.

News from Poland, 6 October 2011