Germany Gives Green Light For Shale Fracking
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government agreed on draft regulation to allow the tapping of shale gas via fracking, a practice the opposition says may harm the environment.
The legislation would outlaw hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in water protection areas and near drinking water wells and would make environmental impact studies mandatory for new projects, Environment Minister Peter Altmaier and Economy Minister Philipp Roesler said in a joint letter obtained by Bloomberg News. The measures would permit the technique in non- restricted areas and provide “a unified legal situation,” the ministers wrote.
“This offers a good perspective for the future even if we should wait to see the actual progress,” Roesler said in a statement e-mailed today by his ministry in Berlin. While fracking offers “significant opportunities, we must always keep in view possible effects on the environment.”
Fracking is politically and environmentally contentious in Germany as federal elections loom on Sept. 22. The main opposition Social Democrats have called for a temporary ban on the practice while their Green Party allies want to outlaw it altogether.
Merkel’s government is keen to develop domestic energy sources as it closes nuclear plants by 2022 and shifts to renewable power. While a successful drilling campaign would redraw the energy map across Europe, a continent reliant on Russia for about a quarter of its gas, public opposition has meant little headway has been made on fracking in Germany.