The Court considered the new Underground Law, which stipulates that industrial waste originating from hydraulic fracturing, used to explore or extract underground resources like shale gas, may be buried underground. The law does not violate constitutional provisions on health and environmental protection, the court ruled.
The Constitutional Court heard the case brought by a group of MPs who believe that hydraulic fracturing for the exploration and extraction of hydrocarbon (shale gas or shale oil) resources is hazardous to the environment and people’s health.
The Constitutional Court ruled that the Constitution provides for legal regulation of economic activities which allows to explore and exploit underground resources using methods that could endanger the environment or human health. However, the court emphasised that effective measures have to be established which would create preconditions for proper protection of the environment and human health, and prevent economic activities that could be harmful.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a method of extracting shale gas from rock by fracturing it using pressurized liquid with sand and special chemicals.
Lithuania’s shale gas resources are estimated at 100 to 120 billion cubic metres. The American company Chevron had been the only candidate to explore and extract shale gas in Lithuania, but abandoned the plans in 2013, quoting unfavourable regulation environment and public resistance.
In October, Environment Minister Kęstutis Trečiokas said Lithuania would not be exploring its shale gas resources in the near future. The Geological Survey has cancelled a public tender for shale gas exploration issued in April.