These decisions come on the heels of the European Parliament’s rejection of a ban on shale gas. And late last year, the European Commission (EC) Joint Research Centre issued a key report (Figure 1), which finds that under a best case scenario (one that takes into account environmental considerations), future shale gas production in Europe could help the European Union (EU) maintain a stable dependency on energy imports, keeping them at the current 60% of total EU energy needs. The report acknowledged, however, that considerable uncertainty exists about recoverable volumes, as well as regarding technological developments and public acceptance of shale gas extraction. Critically, it noted, the EC remained “neutral” to member states’ decisions concerning their energy mix, but it stressed that the commission would continue to ensure that an appropriate framework was set up to enable “sustainable” shale gas extraction that fits within EU policy objectives of working toward a decarbonized economy. The framework is expected sometime this year.
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