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France Wants to Take its Anti-Fracking Fight International

It’s not enough that France has banned fracking within its own borders—it now wants to ban the import of fracked shale gas from the United States. The Hill reports:

The issue has arisen because two companies, Électricité de France and Engie, have signed contracts to buy liquefied natural gas from the United States, where most of it comes from fracked wells. “I’m going to examine legally how we can prohibit the import of shale gas, and in any case, these businesses will have to shift towards other markets to import only conventional gas,” [French energy minister Ségolène Royal] said. […]

Royal said she would contact the two companies who want to import gas from the United States about her hopes to stop the imports. “I have asked the two companies why they weren’t vigilant, and I have also asked for an examination of a legal means for us to ban the import of shale gas,” she said.

The notion floated by France’s energy minister Ségolène Royal that companies interested in purchasing U.S. shale gas are somehow not being “vigilant” is, frankly, laughable. For these kinds of firms, where the gas comes from is a distant concern; price is the most important consideration. Thanks to a large glut of shale gas, U.S. prices are a downright steal at the moment. Liquifying these supplies and shipping them across the Atlantic will certainly add to their cost, but if these two French companies signed contracts to start importing American LNG, they did so because they saw it as a smart financial move.

For France (and the rest of Europe), American shale gas can be more than just a cheap source of energy—it can help shore up shaky energy security and reduce reliance on Russian supplies of natural gas. But for Royal, the environmental concerns surrounding the controversial drilling process outweigh these manifest benefits so much that Paris is now considering snubbing imports, as well as its own shale reserves. Never mind that shale gas displaces coal, cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half, or that the industry is actively innovating new ways to make its operations safer for the environment. Royal would rather throw all those considerations aside and cut off her nose to spite her face.

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  • Blackbeard

    The stupid, it burns. France is perhaps the leading example of European decline with a stagnant economy, an ongoing demographic collapse and an increasingly impotent military. And yet its leaders can still think of ways to make things worse.

  • dawnsblood

    Something tells me we will find more than enough buyers. If France likes paying top dollar for stuff so be it.

  • Andrew Allison

    The environmental concerns are largely baseless. The were 300,000, yes 300,000 fracked wells operating in the US last year. It the dangers were anything like those suggested by the hysterics, we’d by knee-deep in problems.

  • Fat_Man

    There is a more parsimonious explanation for Ms. Royal’s hissy fit. She is on the Russian payroll. It is a lead pipe cinch.

    • Angel Martin

      that was my first thought as well

  • GS

    A simple answer would be, “frack her and her opinions”

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Since America is the only country with significant fracking, she is attacking America directly. What’s more the idiot doesn’t understand that oil and gas are fungible, and what she’s doing is all wasted effort. As it isn’t going to hurt America, only the french who will have to pay effectively higher prices to pay for the additional regulation.

  • Y.K.

    The stated reasoning of course makes no sense. The real reason is very simple. The Arab block has paid France off with huge weapons contracts and other measures. Thus, the French position on many issues is highly influenced by what the Gulf monarchies want, and they want to reduce competition from US shale gas.

  • Proud Skeptic

    If anyone is still wondering what the REAL appeal of AGW is, you can stop wondering right now. Its biggest advantage is that it gives countries political power over each other.

  • CaliforniaStark

    Anyone saying that Segolene Royal is speaking on behalf of Russian or Arab interests gives her a lot more credit than she deserves. To say she is “eccentric” states it to mildly, the term “ding-dong” would be cruel. In 2007, after a kidnapping incident involving French citizens, she advocated for sanctions against the Taliban government in Afghanistan — Royal had to be reminded the Taliban had been overthrown several years previously. Royal is unique in being one of the few French politicians who appeared to have advocated for an independent Corsica. She might be the French version of Sarah Palin. Her presence in the French government may be because of her relationship with ultra-bland President Hollande (who’s popularity in March 2016 stood at 17%); although not married to him, they have four children together.

    France is largely self-sufficient in energy because of nuclear power; when it needs extra it buys from its neighbors, including Germany — which gets about 45% of its power from coal. If natural gas use rises in Europe, sure France will end up indirectly buying natural gas produced energy from neighboring countries, Royal’s eco-stunt notwithstanding.

    • vb

      What she probably will accomplish is to give the Eurogreenies another cause to champion besides GMOs and nuclear power.

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