After French media accuses government of hypocrisy, French Energy Minister Segolene Royal is discussing with French parliament a potential ban on the import of U.S. shale gas.
The issue arose out of concerns expressed by some members of French parliament that American LNG exports to Europe have contained natural gas that is 40 percent shale gas—which environmentalists and some lawmakers argue contradicts France’s own ban on shale gas exploitation using hydraulic fracturing.
Two French companies, Electricite de France (EDF) and gas utility Engie, have previously signed contracts to buy U.S. LNG from, while the French state has a large interest in both, and a 75-percent ownership stake in EDF.
France’s Socialist government has been under pressure from environmentalists not only to ensure that fracking never takes place on French territory, but also to ensure that no fracked gas enters its territory.
“It’s total hypocrisy,” Paul Reynard, Stop Shale Gas spokesperson, told reporters. “Hydraulic fracturing is forbidden in France to avoid pollution but we’ll buy shale gas from elsewhere that will penalize local populations."
“We don’t care about others. We won’t pollute our own garden but we’ll pollute someone else’s.”
The U.S. is the world’s biggest exporter of shale gas with cargo ships already having been sent off to Brazil, Argentina, Portugal and Belgium.
Fracking was banned in France back in 2011 for environmental reasons. Last year, French media leaked a government-commissioned report that looked into a safer alternative to fracking for shale gas.
In Europe, only a handful of countries—including Denmark, Poland and the U.K.- are actively pursuing shale gas resources.