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PISM Report: Path to Prosperity or Road to Ruin? Shale Gas Under Political Scrutiny

05 October 2011

The Polish Institute of International Affairs has published the report “Path to Prosperity or Road to Ruin? Shale Gas Under Political Scrutiny” by Ernest Wyciszkiewicz (ed.), Agata Gostyńska, Dorota Liszczyk, Lidia Puka, Bartosz Wiśniewski, and Bartłomiej Znojek.

The report seeks to explore the reasons behind the stark polarization of the European debate about shale gas. Supporters of exploration and production from shale gas deposits consider it an opportunity to significantly alter the political and economic rules affecting Europe’s energy security. Critics tend to interpret the development of the shale gas industry as a threat to the environment, a challenge to the existing strategies of limiting the green-house gas emissions, or a competition to the well-entrenched economic interests.

Thus the report analyzes the politics of shale gas, looking into debates in the select European countries and probing the activities of the EU institutions (the EU Council, the Commission, the European Parliament) in this sphere. The authors investigated a broad array of factors that influence the preferences of the key players: approach to the optimal energy mix, desired level of diversification of energy supplies, or the perception of natural gas imports from an energy security angle. In addition, the report highlights the significance of the North American experience with shale gas exploration and development as a crucial determinant of the European debate.

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