By Daniel Stroe – Bucharest
Speaking to IBNA, Remus Cernea, the leader of the Green Party and a lawmaker in the Romanian Parliament, warns against negative effects of shale gas production and points toward alternatives the country has to ensure its energy security, while highlighting Romanians’ sharper civic obligations.
Shale gas has polarized the society in Romania, with various opinions on whether the exploitation is harmful or not. Which are the main arguments against shale has production?
Exploitation of shale gas involves the use of a dangerous technology for the environment while the greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for climate changes, are more significant (from 30 up to 200 per cent) than in the case of standard gas production. Also, the water quantity used for such exploitations are enormous and this is mixed with dangerous chemical components. Thus, the water which is pumped underground could infest the ground-water layer and the underground streams on a wide scale in case of an accident or inadequate use of equipments. The risks for human health and environment are very serious.
Moreover, the whole political energy approach is also at stake. Our opinion is governments should rely more on renewable energy sources instead of getting it out of fossil fuels or nuclear means which have a negative major impact on the environment and carry serious risks of accidents with devastating effects. We should not either neglect the risk of earthquakes generated by hydraulic fracturing, even though these are relatively reduced. France has already outlawed hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and more countries introduced moratoriums on this type of technology.
How do you answer to those allegations that the shale gas production can lead to Romania’s energy independence?
Romania will be able to get energy independence and security if it counts on renewable energy sources, not fossil fuels. Our country should follow Germany’s example which has set as an objective to obtain an energy mix out of 100% renewable sources by 2050. Therefore, in 3-4 decades, based on policies oriented in this direction, a big country like Germany shows it both understands its own necessities, but also serve the mankind’s general objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
We need a durable and sustainable economy. It would be a big mistake to first exploit all the fossil fuels resources and only then resort to renewable resources. The current technologies, in continuous improvement, allow the passage to renewable resources. The shale gas production is deceiving and has major negative effects on the environment and climate change.
Anyway, the companies which get the shale gas exploitation license can then freely sell it to whomever they like. The shale gas doesn’t belong either to the government or the citizens and the sale price will be established on a European level. So the market for the shale gas could be any other than Romania and the Romanian state ends up getting only the dues. Romania would still depend on the decision of the respective companies and its energy independence and security wouldn’t be guaranteed either. On the contrary, if it counted on renewable resources, directly connected to the energy network, including the possibility small producers can generate energy out of renewable sources, and then Romania would benefit from green, clean and cheaper and cheaper energy.
How do you comment on the ample protests against shale gas exploitation? Have Romanians become more environmental sensitive or are they used as mere electoral and political masses?
Yes, I think more and more Romanians are becoming receptive and interested in the environmental related topics. This can be seen from various civic reactions to different themes concerning the environment, including the shale gas debate. I am confident the civic mobilization will increase in our country and many abuses against the environment will be stopped by the citizens’ involvement.
The idea that people are manipulated is deceptive. This is because in a democracy we witness a conflict of ideas and values. It is normal for the people, if they have beliefs, to assert them. There is no absolute truth, but democracy depends on citizens being informed, on their civic conscience and the degree of their involvement in the affairs of the society and the local communities. In conclusion, those who point to manipulation basically give up the effort to bring arguments and affirm his or her position, resorting to the theory of conspiracy in a superficial manner.