Latest Shale Gas Protest Held in Bulgaria's SofiaSociety | November 26, 2011, Saturday // 13:50| views
Over 200 Sofia residents staged Saturday a protest rally and march against shale gas exploration and production in the country. Photo by BGNES
About 200 young people have staged Saturday a protest rally in downtown Sofia against shale gas exploration and production in the country.
The news was reported by the Bulgarian National Radio, BNR.
The march started from the Patriarch Evtimiy monument and is moving to the building of the Ministry of Economy and Energy.
The protest has been organized through the social network Facebook.
Participants are wearing gas masks and are holding signs such as "Chevron Go Home!" They will also light candles in front of the building of the Agriculture Ministry, in a mockery of a recent statement of Economy and Energy Minister, Traicho Traikov, asking Bulgarians in regions where shale gas exploration could take place in the future to light a candle and pray the study for shale gas resources turns successful.
The demonstrators say they are fighting for clean food, water and soil, and are accusing the cabinet of keeping Bulgarians in the dark about their real plans for shale gas extraction and production.
The issue of shale gas drilling in Bulgaria on concession by the US energy giant Chevron Corp escalated in the past few weeks, with environmentalists staging several protests and voicing concerns that two shale gas wells were being prepared for a launch.
Energy Minister Traicho Traikov refuted the claims, saying that the platform in the northeastern village of Rogozina was used for conventional drilling.
The protesters also drew attention to the fact that Environment Minister Nona Karadzhova, who recently claimed that all anti-shale gas rallies had been attended "the very same 5 perople" pretending to represent civil society in Bulgaria, had failed to ensure the mandatory Natura 2000 impact assessment for certain gas wells.
On Thursday, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) tabled in Parliament a draft bill envisaging a ban on shale gas exploration and production in the country.
BSP's step comes in response to Prime Minister Boyko Borisov's November 18 invitation to parliamentary opponents of shale gas to table a petition for a ban and to carry the responsibility for their decision.
On Wednesday, the marginal conservative party Order, Law and Justice (RZS) submitted to Parliament a draft decision proposing a ban on shale gas drilling.
Also on Wednesday, the Bulgarian nationalist Ataka party proposed in the Parliament to debate a moratorium on the issue, but the MPs rejected the proposal.
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