Sacked French minister lays blame on nuclear power, fracking groups

Sacked French minister lays blame on nuclear power, fracking groups by Tara Patel, July 6, 2013, Bloomberg
France’s former environment minister Delphine Batho, who was sacked on Tuesday, has blamed the fracking and nuclear power industries for her dismissal. Ms Batho, who held the energy and the environment portfolios, was fired by President Francois Hollande after she called his 2014 spending plans ”bad” because they cut her department’s funds by about 7 per cent. These forces that I am talking about wanted my scalp. Mr Hollande announced her sacking via Twitter. But Ms Batho said on Thursday that her support for France’s ban on shale gas drilling and reducing its dependence on nuclear power were the real reasons behind her departure. ”The battle crystallised notably on the question of shale gas and more discreetly on the reduction of nuclear in France,” she said at a news conference at the National Assembly in Paris. ”These forces that I am talking about wanted my scalp.” She left at a critical time as the nation debates its future energy mix after Mr Hollande pledged to lower the proportion of power France derives from nuclear energy, the highest in the world. An energy law was to be formulated in coming months and sent to parliament early next year. … Socialist Philippe Martin was named to replace Ms Batho. He is a long-time critic of hydraulic fracturing for shale oil and gas, which is banned in France, and genetically modified organisms. Ms Batho said she ”never imagined for one minute” that her budget comments would lead to her being fired. ”I won’t remain silent,” she said. She said Philippe Crouzet, the chief executive of Vallourec SA, had described her as a ”disaster.” Vallourec makes pipes for the oil and gas industry, including in the US where it operates in the shale industry. The company declined to comment. Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told parliament Ms Batho’s comments on the budget posed a ”political problem” that showed a lack of loyalty to the government. Environmental issues remained ”at the heart” of Mr Hollande’s policies, he said. [Emphasis added]

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