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French minister says she lost job over shale drilling ban

By Bob Downing Published: July 5, 2013

From Bloomberg News:

Former French Environment Minister Delphine Batho said her support for a ban on shale drilling and reducing dependence on nuclear power cost her her job.

“The battle crystallized notably on the question of shale gas and more discreetly on the reduction of nuclear in France,” Batho said at a press conference yesterday at the National Assembly in Paris. “These forces that I am talking about wanted my scalp.”

Batho, who held both the energy and environment portfolios, was fired by President Francois Hollande earlier this week after calling his 2014 spending plans “bad” because they cut her department’s funds by about 7 percent. She left at a critical time as the nation debates its future energy mix after Hollande pledged to lower the proportion of power France derives from nuclear energy, the highest in the world.

An energy law was to be formulated in the coming months and sent to parliament at the start of 2014. The stakes are high for Electricite de France SA, operator of the country’s 58 nuclear reactors, because it wants to extend the lives of its generators rather than have any of them shut down.

Socialist lawmaker Philippe Martin was named to replace Batho. He is a longtime critic of hydraulic fracturing for shale oil and gas, which is banned in France, and genetically modified organisms.

Remain Silent

Batho said she “never imagined for one minute” that her budget comments would lead to her being fired. “I won’t remain silent,” she said.
Batho said Philippe Crouzet, the chief executive officer of France’s Vallourec SA, had described her as a “disaster” and had commented on her likely departure before it was announced. In a statement late last night Crouzet denied he had ever “commented on the eventual departure of the minister.”

Vallourec makes pipes for the oil and gas industry, including in the U.S., where it operates in the shale industry.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on July 3 told parliament Batho’s comments on the budget posed a “political problem” that showed a lack of loyalty to the government. Environmental issues remain “at the heart” of Hollande’s policies, he said.

Batho’s departure is the second by a key cabinet member in Hollande’s government since Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac resigned in March after admitting to holding an undeclared Swiss bank account. By dismissing Batho, Hollande signaled his determination to shrink spending and keep discipline within government ranks.

Hollande has pledged to lower the dependence on nuclear energy to 50 percent of total output by around 2025 from the current 75 percent.
The test of whether Hollande will keep to his campaign promise will be whether EDF’s oldest reactor at Fessenheim is shut in spite of resistance from the utility, Batho said.French minister



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ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

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Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.