Frackez-vous: French court passes ultimate fracking ban; France’s Fracking Ban ‘Absolute’ After Court Upholds Law, Frac ban in France is constitutional, Judgement: Schuepbach Energy LLC

Frackez-vous: French court passes ultimate fracking ban by Common Sense Canadian, October 12, 2013 Read this story from Climate Progress on the fracking ban upheld by France’s constitutional court – perhaps the strongest yet in the world.

France’s ban on fracking was finally completed Friday, as its constitutional court upheld a 2011 law prohibiting the practice and canceling all exploration permits. The decision posted on the court’s website said the ban “conforms to the constitution” and is not “disproportionate,” effectively protecting it from any future legal challenge.

U.S. driller Schuepbach Energy brought its complaint to the court after two of its exploration permits were revoked due to the ban. Schuepbach attempted to argue that since no study had established fracking risks, there was no cause for the ban, and that since fracking isn’t banned for geothermal energy projects, it was unfair. The court didn’t find that convincing, citing the differences between geothermal and shale gas exploration.

Environment Minister Philippe Martin framed the decision as a victory in the larger effort to limit fossil fuels and carbon emissions. “Beyond the question of fracking, shale gas is a carbon emitter,” he said in a statement. “We must set our priorities on renewable energies.”

Frac ban in france is constitutional, Judgement: Schuepbach Energy LLC [Prohibition of hydraulic fracturing for the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons – Repeal permits searches] by Le Conseil Constitutionnel, October 11, 2013

2013 France Frac Ban is ConstitutionalThe Constitutional Council was seized July 12, 2013 by the State Council as a priority issue of constitutionality raised by the Schuepbach Energy LLC. This issue was related to compliance with the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution of Articles 1 and 3 of Law No. 2011-835 of 13 July 2011 to ban the exploration and exploitation of liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons mines by hydraulic fracturing and to repeal the exclusive licenses with projects using this technique.

The applicant criticized these provisions as contrary to equality before the law and freedom of enterprise, as undermining the guarantee of rights and the right to property and as contrary to the principles enshrined in Articles 5 and 6 of the Charter of the environment.

Constitutional Council rejected these four series of complaints and found the challenged provisions of the Act of 13 July 2011 provisions conformity with the Constitution:

– The Constitutional Council noted that prohibiting the use of hydraulic fracturing search or exploit hydrocarbons in the national territory, the legislature intended to prevent the risk that the process of research and exploitation of hydrocarbons is likely to incur the environment. The legislature considered that the hydraulic fracturing of the rock which they are used to stimulate the flow of water in geothermal reservoirs does not present the same risks to the environment and heard not hinder the development of exploitation of the geothermal resource. The Constitutional Council ruled that the difference in treatment between the two processes of hydraulic fracturing of the rock (for hydrocarbons on the one hand and geothermal other) is directly related to the purpose of the law that the established. It thus rejected the complaint alleging breach of the principle of equality.

The Constitutional Council also dismissed the complaint alleging infringement of the freedom of enterprise. It ruled that prohibiting the use of hydraulic fracturing drilling followed the rock for all the research and exploitation of hydrocarbons, which are subject to an administrative authorization scheme, the legislature has pursued a goal of general interest of environmental protection. The Board concluded that the restriction on both research and the exploitation of hydrocarbons does not assume, in the state of knowledge and techniques, is disproportionate in relation to the objective pursued.

The Constitutional Council dismissed the complaints relating to the infringement of the guarantee of rights and the right to property. He found that to repeal exploration permits when their owners did not meet the reporting requirements or reported use or proposed use of drilling followed by hydraulic fracturing, the legislature has drawn the consequences new prohibitions on technical research procedures and therefore does not interfere with a legally acquired. The Council also noted that the authorizations granted in mining research defined perimeters and for a limited time by the administrative authority can not be treated as property, objects to their holders the right to property. Accordingly, the impugned provisions do not involve deprivation of property in unconstitutional conditions.

– The Constitutional Council had already had occasion to rule that Article 6 of the Charter of the environment does not establish a right or freedom guaranteed by the Constitution and can not therefore be invoked in the context of a priority question of constitutionality. He also tried in any event ineffective the complaint alleging breach of Article 5 of the Charter against a provision enacting a permanent ban, and therefore dismissed the complaints under these provisions of the Environmental Charter. [Emphasis added]

France’s Fracking Ban ‘Absolute’ After Court Upholds Law by Tara Patel and Gregory Viscusi, October 11, 2013, Bloomberg
France’s constitutional court upheld a ban on hydraulic fracturing, ruling that the law against the energy-exploration technique known as fracking is a valid means of protecting the environment. The 2011 law “conforms to the constitution” and is not “disproportionate,” the court in Paris said in a decision posted on its website today. France banned fracking in 2011 and canceled exploration licenses held by companies including Schuepbach and Total SA, the country’s biggest oil company, after protests by [concerned farmers, vineyard owners, citizens and] environmental groups. Schuepbach Energy LLC, a Dallas-based explorer, complained to the court that the law was unfair after having two exploration permits revoked because of the ban. President Francois Hollande has said France won’t allow exploration of shale energy even as the country seeks to reduce its reliance on nuclear energy and keep down costs for consumers.

“It’s a judicial victory but also an environmental and political victory,” French Environment Minister Philippe Martin said today after the ruling. “With this decision the ban on hydraulic fracturing is absolute.”

Schuepbach argued in court last month that there isn’t a study that establishes risks from fracking. The explorer also said the ban was unfair because the drilling technique may still be used in French geothermal-energy projects.

‘Deplorable’ Ruling
“France is depriving itself of exploration that could evaluate potentially large nonconventional carbon resources,” the GEP-AFTP oil and gas lobby said in a statement, adding that it “deplores” the court decision. France should create a commission to experiment with shale drilling in order to evaluate the size of reserves, the lobby said.

The ban can no longer be attacked in court and will benefit the fight against carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, [French Environment Minister Philippe Martin] said. “Beyond the question of fracking, shale gas is a carbon emitter,” he said. “We must set our priorities on renewable energies.” [Emphasis added]

France Upholds Ban on Fracking by David Jolly, October 11, 2013, The New York Times
France’s highest court on Friday upheld a government ban on a controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing…. The Constitutional Council ruled against a challenge by Schuepbach Energy, an American company, whose exploration permits were revoked after the French Parliament banned the practice. … Schuepbach Energy had claimed that the law violated its rights, unfairly singled out fracking and was unconstitutional. The court rejected those arguments. … “This law has been contested several times,” Mr. Hollande said on Friday in a speech after the decision. “It is now beyond dispute.”

In addition to France, Bulgaria has banned fracking. Britain has allowed modest experiments, though those have met with a public backlash. Industry hopes that Germany, which decided to end its atomic power after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, would be receptive to fracking have also met with disappointment. On Wednesday, the European Parliament voted to tighten the rules on fracking, giving initial approval to a measure to require in-depth environmental impact studies on all such projects. Attempts to reach Schuepbach Energy, a company based in Dallas that is not listed on any stock exchange, were unsuccessful. A company Web site says it is “under construction.”  Jean-Louis Schilansky, president of the Union Française des Industries Pétrolières, a French oil and natural gas industry lobby, said there was no point in continuing the fight on legal grounds. “The moment the highest court says it’s constitutional,” he said, “it’s constitutional.”

Mr. Schilansky noted that while the 2011 law was often represented as a simple ban on fracking, it also called for the creation of a national commission to determine whether fracking could be carried out in an environmentally safe manner. “At the moment the whole of the knowledge is being taken from the United States,” he said. “Instead of that, we should be developing our own.” The industry will now focus on getting the government to move forward with those experiments, he said…. [Emphasis added]

France cements fracking ban, A law prohibiting fracking for shale gas has been upheld by France’s constitutional court, citing environmental protection by Bloomberg, October 11, 2013, The Guardian
The court ruled that in imposing the ban, lawmakers were pursuing a legitimate goal in the general interest of protecting the environment and noted differences between geothermal and shale gas exploration techniques. The court also rejected an argument that the ban went against property rights. The ban can no longer be attacked in court…. [Emphasis added]

France upholds ban on shale gas fracking by Dan MacGuill, October 11, The Local France’s News in English
France’s highest court on Friday upheld a ban on fracking – drilling in the country’s plentiful shale gas reserves. It rejected Texas company Schuepbach Energy’s argument that France’s moratorium was “discriminatory.” … France’s Conseil Constitutionnel, roughly the equivalent of the US Supreme Court, on Friday upheld the constitutionality of a 2011 moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, known as “fracking,” saying the law, and the decision to revoke two exploration permits from a US-based company, both “conformed to the Constitution.” The “Jacob Law” of 2011 effectively closed off the reserves, and banned the fracking method, which involves injecting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals at high pressure to crack the shale rock holding oil and gas deep underground. … Schuepbach Energy, based in Dallas, Texas, however, had argued that the moratorium on fracking applied the principle of precaution “too rigorously.” “There isn’t a single study showing that fracking presents the slightest risk,” Marc Fornacciari, the company’s lawyer told the court last month.

French government representative Thierry-Xavier Girardot rejected this, however, telling the court the moratorium was based instead on the principle of prevention, and that the environmental hazards posed by fracking were “sufficiently acknowledged” to justify a ban. France revoked Schuepbach’s permit to explore shale reserves in Aveyron and Ardèche in southern France, and on Friday the court said that decision, and the 2011 law itself “conformed to the Constitution,” according to Le Figaro. The Dallas-based company had also tried to convince the Conseil Constitutionnel that the 2011 ban was discriminatory and violated the “principle of equality” by allowing hydraulic fracturing for the purpose of geothermal energy, but banning it for the purpose of accessing oil and gas. Ardèche MP Pascal Terrasse dismissed this argument, however. “Yes, but, in that case (geothermal fracking) you don’t also inject chemicals,” he told French newspaper Libération. [Emphasis added]

France upholds ban on fracking over fears of environmental damage, despite country’s huge shale gas reserves by Peter Allen, October 11, 2013, The Daily Mail

France’s constitutional council upholds ban on fracking by Hugh Carnegy, October 11, 2013, Financial Times

France Upholds Ban on Hydraulic Fracturing by Lori Hinnant, Associated Press, October 11, 2013, ABC News
Fracking is hard on the environment and has triggered minor earthquakes. It consumes enormous amounts of water and leaves chemicals behind.

France upholds ban on fracking by David Jolly, October 11, 2013, The New York Times News Service in The Globe and Mail
The Constitutional Council ruled against a challenge by Schuepbach Energy, a U.S. company, whose exploration permits were revoked after the French Parliament banned the practice. … Environmental concerns, particularly worries about the danger to water supplies, have slowed adoption of the practice in Europe, and the center-right government of former President Nicolas Sarkozy passed a law prohibiting it in 2011. [Emphasis added]

[France upholds constitution; Alberta trounces it]

[Refer also to:

France Vote Outlaws ‘Fracking’ Shale for Natural Gas, Oil Extraction

France Becomes First Country to Ban Extraction of Natural Gas by Fracking Hydraulic fracturing will be illegal and parliament would have to vote for a new law to allow research using the technique

France bans ‘fracking’ after months of protest

France to ban fracking of fossil fuels ]

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