- The International Institute for Law and the Environment, Ecologists in Action, and the Gas No Es Solución network, of which both organizations are part, have submitted objections to the project for the exploration and research of hydrogen and helium in Monzón.
- These organizations consider the project to be outside the law and urge the Government of Aragón to withdraw the declaration of “investment of regional interest” from a project that does not have a legal permit.
July 11 – The town of Monzón in Huesca is currently embroiled in a contentious project for the exploitation of hydrogen reserves. The interested company, Helios Aragón Exploration S.L., is attempting to promote an exploratory research project for hydrogen reserves. This exploitation falls under the category known as “golden,” “white,” or “natural” hydrogen, referring to gas found in the form of H2 in the subsurface and arising from geological processes. Several activist groups, including the Gas No es Solución network, have raised concerns about the project, which is partially supported by the fact that currently, such deposits have no precedents in either Spain or Europe. According to sources from the organization, “The only commercially close reference worldwide would be a case in Mali at the Bourakébougou deposit.”
The International Institute for Law and the Environment, Ecologists in Action, and the Gas No Es Solución network, both of which are part of the latter organization, have submitted objections to the simplified environmental impact assessment process, considering the project to be illegal from the outset. The exploratory research project for hydrogen reserves in Monzón (Huesca) is based on a hydrocarbon exploration permit that the company obtained in 2020, and the organizations point out that if this exploration were to be processed under the hydrocarbon law, it would be illegal, as the Climate Change Law prohibits new explorations. “This type of project is not mentioned as a possibility in the value chain description in the 2020 Hydrogen Roadmap of the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, nor in the recent draft of the updated National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan.”
On the other hand, hydrogen is not a hydrocarbon. Thus, the Government of Aragón wants it to be processed as a geological resource instead of waiting for specific regulations to be developed, a matter of concern for environmental organizations since the processing is being carried out in a way that the project would undergo a simplified environmental impact assessment, despite it being a novel project with unknown direct repercussions on the nearby population and the environment. Therefore, they believe that the precautionary principle should be applied, and environmental regulations should be rigorously followed, subjecting the project to a regular environmental impact assessment, which provides more environmental control guarantees.
Gas No Es Solución emphasizes that the activities carried out for exploration cause environmental impacts as heavy machinery invades natural spaces, and deep drilling can affect water springs. They also call on the promoters and the Government of Aragón to inform the population about the potential impacts that could arise from this project.
The Government of Aragón, which has declared the project an investment of regional interest, is trying to process it under the Mining Law. However, they also indicate that the project would be outside the law, as the company lacks the required exploration permits.
The International Institute for Law and the Environment, Ecologists in Action, and Gas No Es Solución insist that there is no justification for expediting procedures and shortening established deadlines in this case, especially considering the timeline presented by the promoters themselves, projecting the possibility of exploitation in 2028. This haste may affect the quality of the associated Environmental Impact Assessments and the procedures for public hearings, prompting them to urge the Government of Aragón to withdraw the declaration of investment of regional interest.