No Fracked Gas in Cork Harbour!

By Conor Payne

A memorandum of understanding has been signed between the Port of Cork and Texas-based energy company Next Decade. This deal would see fracked gas imported from the Rio Grande project in south Texas, near the Mexican border, and processed at a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in the Port of Cork,  to be then sold to the Irish and Europan markets.  

According to a report in the Sunday Business Post on 11 November, Next Decade plans to seek permission for this terminal by the end of the year. They aim to have it operational by 2023.

This is the second LNG terminal planned in Ireland. The planned Shannon LNG terminal was listed as a ‘Project of Common Interest’, giving it priority and potential access to public funding.  That the Fine Gael-led government supported this gives the lie to their empty rhetoric on climate change.

The dangers of fracking 

Fracking is big business and big trouble for our planet. Fracking is responsible for approximately one third of methane gas emissions worldwide – one of the most potent greenhouse gases there are. For local communities, fracking can poison groundwater, contribute to earthquakes and damage people’s health. Due to protests by local communities against plans for fracking, it is banned in Ireland. This ban should not be circumvented by the importation of fracked gas from elsewhere.

We are facing a global climate emergency and need a rapid transition from the use of fossil fuels. This plan for a major project based on fracked gas faces exactly in the opposite direction. As long as major fossil fuel projects such as these are being considered, the government can’t be taken seriously on moving to a zero-carbon economy.

Government hypocrisy 

The government and establishment parties can’t be trusted on environmental issues because they represent the interests of big business, including the companies which are profiting from the destruction of our planet. Instead, we need a mass movement of workers and young people which demands immediate action to transition away from the use of fossil fuels, like fracked gas. We need major public investment in renewable energy, such as wind and wave energy, as well as free public transport and programme to retrofit every home in the country. Fossil fuel companies should be brought into public ownership and, on the basis of democratic planning, we can have a just transition, which protects jobs and livelihoods. 

Everyone concerned about our climate should oppose this project.  In Cork, that means we need a campaign of opposition to these plans involving political pressure and sustained protests – including the use of mass civil disobedience – to stop this project in its tracks and win an important victory for the climate. We need to make this a major issue in the upcoming general election and in the months ahead. 

This is something the Socialist Party, alongside our members and Solidarity public representatives Cllr Fiona Ryan and Mick Barry TD, will doing.