36 organisations and citizens' groupsi tell President Macron to refuse a new fossil fuel project in Eastern France. In the letter, local group APEL57, which has been opposing the project for years, warns about the dramatic impacts of coal bed methane ii on water, soil fertility and climate breakdown. They demand that the French government reject the permit iii and call for fossil free politics.
The gas company, La Française de l'Energie, is asking the French Government for a licence to extract gas trapped within coal beds, known a s« coalbed methane ». The project could mean up to 400 new wells being drilled to extract the gas.
This fossil gas requires the use of unconventional techniques for its extraction, similar to those used for shale gas. This type of hydrocarbon has never been drilled for in France, but its dramatic impacts on water, soil fertility and climate breakdown are wellknown abroad.
The public inquiry for the project, which closed in November, mobilized many citizens and local elected officials, nearly 85% of whom voted against this fossil fuel project. However, the vote was not binding and the government has already shown that it pays little heed to such inquiries or public consultations, granting oil and gas permits despite the opposition of public opinion.
However, it is worth pointing out that La Française de l'Energie has significant links within the public administration. Back in 2017, lobbying by the company over the ‘Hulot law’ on hydrocarbons saw the French Government give in and exclude coalbed methane from the ban on unconventional extraction techniques.
Today, 36 organisations and citizens' collectives publish an open letter addressed to Emmanuel Macron and Ecological transition Minister Barbara Pompili, calling on the government to refuse the permit. Granting it would be in total contradiction with France’s commitments to the Paris agreement and to implementing a sound climate action plan. Granting the permit would also show the government backing down in the face of corporate lobbying, ignoring the state's responsibility towards current and future generations.
In light of the scandal, the open letter demands that public policies to fight climate change be protected from the influence of fossil fuel industry lobbies, joining the European call for Fossil Free Politics. The demands include the end of public funding for fossil fuel projects and lobbying meetings, and the strict regulation of conflicts of interestand revolving doors.
i Open letter published by :
Associationpour la Préservation de l’Environnement Local 57 (APEL57)
Amis de la Terre France
Fossil free politics campaign
350.org – aGter – Alternatiba – Amis de la Terre Moselle – ANV-COP21 – Association Gratte papier – Association Internationale de Techniciens Experts et Chercheurs (Aitec) – Association mosellane pour la promotion des énergies renouvelables (Amper) – Association pour la protection de l’environnement à Lérouville – Association Un toit Partagé – Attac Moselle – Collectif houille ouille ouille – Collectif non à l’huile et gaz de schiste 91 – Collectif Pour une terre plus Humain – DenosMAINs – Émancipation Collective – Extinction Rébellion NANCY – Fondation Danielle Mitterrand – France Nature Environnement – Greenpeace/groupe local Nancy – La Voix de l’Arbre – Lorraine Association Nature – Lorraine Nature Environnement – Marche pour la biodiversité – Reclaim Finance – Réseau Foi et Justice Afrique Europe – Résilience France – Sciences citoyennes – Stop Mines 23 – Vervillages – ZEA
ii Coalbed methane » is a form of fossil gas extracted from coal beds situated in coal basin. It is extracted by drilling into and mechanically fracturing unworked (or partially worked) coal seams, and requires unconventional fracking techniques.