Prime minister rejects shale gas

Shale gas drilling rig - Cuadrilla

Industry minister’s plea for ‘ecological’ exploitation is thrown out

PRIME Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has rejected a call for a rethink in the shale gas debate and said the government will not allow its exploitation in France.

He was speaking after Industrial Renewal Minister Arnaud Montebourg told a committee planning reforms to the Code Minier – which sets the laws on development of underground resources – that he would like to see a state-owned company involved in “ecological” exploitation of shale gas gaz de schiste.

Mr Montebourg’s challenge to government policy came just a week after Delphine Batho was sacked as ecology minister for criticising a 7% cut in her budget.

He had said that such development would allow the country to cut its imports of petrol and gas.

However, the prime minister replied that the government had two main objectives in its energy policy: to cut energy consumpution, and particular fossil fuel consumption, and to change the balance of energy sources, by reducing nuclear power from 75% to 50% by encouraging a switch to renewable energy sources.

New Ecology Minister Philippe Martin said there was no such thing as “ecological” exploitation of shale gas and received support from Housing Minister Cécile Duflot, of the Ecology Party.

However, other leading Socialists also want a rethink on shale gas policy with Nord MP Christian Bataille – who co-authored a report in favour of starting exploitation – saying that shale gas could allow France to cut its trade deficit, with 85% of that being due to oil imports.

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