Hydrocarbon plan, “now the government can rewrite the rules”

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«The provision of the Lazio Regional Administrative Court is immediately enforceable: the Pitesai is cancelled. The government is now faced with a choice: whether to appeal to the Council of State or restart the procedure from the beginning, taking into account the requests of the operators and the national interest in energy supply”. This is how lawyer Fabio Cintioli, of Studio Cintioli & Associati, who followed the appeal filed at the beginning of 2022, after the approval of Pitesai, by Gas Plus and Società Padana Energia, explains the consequences of the Lazio Regional Administrative Court ruling. company that the same Gas Plus group acquired in 2010 from Eni and which controls assets for the extraction, treatment and cultivation of liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons in the Po Valley.

A new Plan

«Since defects that can be amended have been identified, the natural effect of the sentence could be a new Plan, which the administration should rewrite following criteria for safeguarding the territory and above all finally listening to operators, environmental associations and all stakeholders. If, however, the choice is to appeal, we will argue with conviction of our reasons before the Council of State. With an outcome that we can predict, it could arrive within about a year”, continues the lawyer.

Mapping failed

Cintioli tries to summarize some of the reasons with which the administrative court accepted the requests of the two appellant companies: «The law on the basis of which the Plan was adopted provided for the identification and creation of a precise mapping of the areas suitable or not for extraction of hydrocarbons on the national territory and seas. This was not done in Pitesai: the Plan, in fact, instead of producing a detailed cartography, accumulates a series of different preliminary constraints, often very abstract, which when combined make the majority of the Italian territory effectively “unsuitable”. Furthermore, it leaves the final choices to the territorial administrations, on the basis of an ambiguous cost-benefit analysis, thus creating a network of impeding criteria that effectively paralyzes activities. Even those of historical concessions which have been present in the area for decades and which produce tax wealth for the State and precious energy for the entire country at a historical moment in which Italy is in great need of energy”.

Industrial sector

Another of the points highlighted is the lack of involvement of supply chain operators and stakeholders: «An entire sector has been mortified. Not only was the Plan not drawn up in concert with the then Ministry of Economic Development, but the interested business category was not even listened to, which was not given the opportunity to intervene, with constraints inserted in the approval phaseaction without having discussed them first. In reality, comments from the sector had been solicited, and Assorisorse produced an 80-page document on the topic. However, the ministerial decision arrived 24 hours later, so the doubt arose that they had not been adequately assessed before approval, as observed by the TAR”.

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