Germany Prepares To End Shale Ban, Allow Fracking
Germany is set to lift its ban on fracking as early as next year, after caving in to business demands that it should reduce its dependency on Russian energy and boost competitiveness with US manufacturers.
Applications to carry out the controversial process for extracting the country’s estimated 2.3tn cubic metres shale gas reserves will be subject to an environmental impact assessment under new legislation to be discussed by the cabinet before the summer recess.
Fracking has been the subject of a fierce debate in Germany’s ruling coalition, with some politicians keen to reduce reliance on Russian energy imports, while others fear the impact of fracking chemicals on a densely populated country.
German manufacturers have been strong advocates of the new technology, which they believe has provided cheap shale gas energy to their US competitors while Germany grapples with a costly switch to subsidised renewables.
Details of the new regulations emerged in a letter from Sigmar Gabriel, German economy minister, to the head of the Bundestag’s budget committee. In the letter, Mr Gabriel wrote that permission to carry out fracking would be subject to approval from regional water authorities and that “further requirements for the fracking permit process are still being considered”. [...]
The EU’s energy commissioner Günther Oettinger has urged European governments to allow fracking “demonstration projects” to diversify the continent’s sources of energy.