Lower than needed turnout for local referendums on environmental impact of projects in Romania

Two local referendums about environmental issues were organized last Sunday in Romania, at the same time as the general elections in the country. But Romanians did not seem to care enough about the two issues: the Rosia Montana gold mining project and the exploration for shale-gas, as both referendums were invalidated by lower than minimum turnouts.

The referendum about the resumption of mining at the Rosia Montana gold project was organized in Alba county, where only 43.2 percent of the people showed up at the vote. The majority – 62 percent- of those who voted, however, said they were in favor of the mining project.

Shale gas exploration in several Romanian towns and villages near the Black Sea was also subject to referendum in Mangalia, Costinesti and Limanu, where the 50 percent turnout requirement was not met.

Citizens were called to vote on whether they agree or not with hydraulic fracturing exploration for shale gas. Chevron announced earlier this year plans to explore the area for resources, and was met with public disagreement.

The shale gas exploitation was delayed by the current Government led by Victor Ponta until European studies show the impact the extraction of shale gas has on the environment.

The dispute over Rosia Montana gold mining project, owned by Canadian Gabriel Resources, has been dragging on for years and met both opposition from environmental NGOs and the lack of a green light from the Romanian Government to start mining.

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