Post image for France Calls for Retreat in E.U. Aviation Emissions Fight

A surprising development from a country not known for backing down from a fight:

In a sign that Paris has little stomach for a fight over global warming, Francois Fillon, the Prime Minister, urged the European Union to retreat over plans to tax airlines for emitting greenhouse gases.

His letter to Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission President, undermined the EU’s claims to be united in its drive to impose ecological virtue on the aviation industry. The plan to force airlines to buy pollution permits when flying in European airspace has been denounced as illegal by other capitals, notably Beijing, Delhi and Washington.

The so-called coalition of the unwilling is pledging to retaliate unless Europe backtracks. Chinese and Indian airlines have been told by their governments to boycott the scheme.

Their American counterparts filed a lawsuit before withdrawing it last month and calling on the Obama Administration to take the lead in pressuring Europe to drop its aviation pollution package.

In France, concern has been fuelled by Airbus, the European aircraft maker, which said that China had shelved orders worth $US14 billion ($13.5 billion) because of the dispute.

The company said that officials in China, which represents 20 per cent of Airbus sales, were withholding their signature on contracts for 35 long-haul A330s and 10 A380 superjumbo planes. [click to continue…]

Post image for ‘Fracking’ in Europe: Who’s in, Who’s out

Two days ago, the New York Times reported that the French Parliament is “leaning” towards a ban on hydraulic fracturing, the American-made technological revolution in production that has vastly increased the known economically recoverable global reserves of natural gas. According to the article,

French lawmakers opened debate on Tuesday on proposals to ban a method for extracting oil and gas deposits from shale because of environmental concerns, throwing up the first serious stumbling block to firms that want to use the practice.

Looking with alarm at the experience in the United States, where shale gas is booming, even members of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s governing conservative party have come out against the practice, known as hydraulic fracturing, in which water, sand and chemicals are pumped deep underground under high pressure to free scattered pockets of oil and gas from dense rock formations.

The article, while interesting, misses the big picture. For starters, it’s unclear why French lawmakers would look “with alarm” at the U.S. experience. While there is some evidence that poorly built “fracking” rigs could lead to the escape of methane into local groundwater wells, this isn’t as disturbing as it sounds. Methane (ie, natural gas) does not make water poisonous, and there is no evidence that the fluids used in the process, which could be toxic, have leaked into well water. Much more importantly, there is ZERO evidence that the process affects water tables used for utility scale water supply, although environmentalist special interests are quick to try to conflate well-water methane contamination with water table contamination. The upshot is that hydraulic fracturing has been used in this country for fifty years, without harming public health and environment.

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