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The Sejm was not aware that Groningen had been extracting more natural gas for many years than was absolutely necessary. Former MPs said today before the Parliamentary Investigation Committee. The fact that Gastera had calculated that no more than 27 billion cubic meters of gas would be needed to secure supplies was not shared with the House of Representatives, for example. In fact, twice as much was extracted in 2013, 54 billion cubic meters.
With such record production, the urgent warning of the government’s control of the mines was ignored to make a lower profit as quickly as possible. SodM came up with this advice because gas extraction has become very dangerous for people in Groningen due to earthquakes. Former Representative Jan Voss (PvdA) said having “a year-long debate on security of supply was therefore nonsense”.
When he heard a year later that extraction had gone to 54 billion, he said he was angry and stunned. Now that he heard during the survey it could have been a lot less right away, Voss said, he slept poorly. “Everyone in Gasgebouw, as well as the minister, knew that the extraction could reach 27 billion cubic metres.”
just don’t laugh
Lisbeth van Tongren, a former GroenLinks MP, proposed at the time to cut gas production by 40 percent, but received almost no support from any party. “I didn’t laugh out loud, but it was close,” she said today. “But at the time, I didn’t know that it was already known in the ministry that production might drop.” When I heard then that gas extraction had increased further, she “come back sharply”.
Rene Ligty, a former VVD MP, found his party colleague Minister Camp’s argument not to cut gas production “credible at the time”. He now believes that the House of Representatives was not aware enough. “The thing I discovered at the time, and it’s complicated to understand, is that there wasn’t much of a decision to produce more, but not an effective decision to cut.”
Ligty believes he should have known better at the time as to the reasons for not taking action. “Because then you will be assisted as the House of Representatives in balancing the decision.” GroenLinks’er Van Tongeren said the House of Representatives has failed in its oversight mission.
Van Tongren said she received so little information at the time that she began working as a “private investigator” herself. Her constant question as to why gas extraction could not be reduced, “was always met with a wall: No, this is necessary.” But she’s heard in the gas world that there are indeed possibilities. By the way, according to Van Tongren, the information currently received by the Chamber of Deputies about gas extraction is still not enough.
During the interrogations, the handling of the allegations was also discussed. Van Tongeren described the way people from Groningen were treated as humiliating. While visiting the house, she looked through a crack in the wall in the children’s room. Those affected were told it was caused by moles, by F-16s breaking through the sound barrier or by teenagers slamming doors. Van Tongren said the lives of a very large group of people in our country have been devastated.
René Leegte became emotional when he spoke about the moment in 2015 when he lost his credibility and quit the gas extraction VVD spokesperson. A wiretapped phone conversation during a train trip back from Groningen, which was posted on Twitter, led to riots. The impression was that he called for further research as a transformative maneuver, and at the same time he wanted to maintain gas production at a high level.
But according to Leegte, the fork was different. However, it did little to correct the image. He didn’t want the discussion about his person to circulate any longer. “Is it about you or the content? I think it should be about the content.”
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