Court backs local councils’ decisions to deny shale gas exploration in Romania

The Vaslui county court ruled as valid the decisions passed by three local councils that banned shale gas exploration within their administrative boundaries, rejecting a complaint filed by the Vaslui county prefecture.

The court supported the decisions passed by local councils of the Alexandru Vlahuta, Suletea and Pogana communes, which were later challenged by the prefect of the Vaslui County.

The judges ruled that the councils’ decisions are legal simply because the shale gas reserves have not yet been declared of national interest in the Romanian legislation, which would have given the prefect an upper hand in the dispute.

“Though the prefecture alleges the state is the only one that can have these resources in possession, the court finds that the resources it refers to, respectively the shale gas, have not yet been identified within the communes’ perimeter, the stretches of land that could have these deposits in its soil are unknown and have not been declared of national interest,” the court said in its ruling.

In 10 previous cases, the Vaslui prefecture won against similar decisions passed by other local councils, which were ruled illegal. The prefecture maintained that the natural resources in the soil belong to the Romanian state and local councils have no jurisdiction over them. It is still unclear why the court ruled differently in the three latest cases, but it signals a judicial fight which may grow as the shale gas dispute gains proportions.

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(Marcellus Shale rig and gas well operation in Scott township, Lawrence county in Pennsylvania, US. Photo: wcn247/