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Germany Bans Fracking Until 2021, Caving In To Green & Russian Lobbies

Jan Hromadko and Harriet Torry, The Wall Street Journal

Planned Regulations Come Amid Political Standoff With Russia, Germany’s Main Gas Supplier

Germany plans halt shale-gas drilling for the next seven years over concerns that exploration techniques could pollute groundwater.

“There won’t be [shale gas] fracking in Germany for the foreseeable future,” German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said Friday in Berlin. The government’s planned regulations come amid a political standoff with Russia, Germany’s main gas supplier, and following intensive lobbying from environmentalists and brewers concerned about possible drinking water contamination.

The production of shale gas requires the application of the hydraulic fracturing technology, also known as fracking, which involves using a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals to break apart rocks to release gas. The government plans to ban the use of hydraulic fracturing technology for drilling operations shallower than 3,000 meters and hopes to get a bill ready early next year.

The government will reassess the ban in 2021, and will base its decision on fresh findings about the impact of fracking technology.

“Protecting drinking water and health has the highest value for us,” Ms. Hendricks told reporters.

Fracking technology has been used since the 1960s in Germany, allowing the industry to maximize the output of conventional gas fields. Although there is currently an oversupply of gas in Europe, price in Germany are much higher than in the U.S. where fracking is used extensively.

But Germans are suspicious of fracking, fearing that it could pollute drinking water. Shale gas carrying rock formations tend to be closer to the surface, and therefore closer to ground water deposits. […]

Fracking proponents in Germany have said it could boost the country’s economy and create hundreds of thousands of jobs. The West’s rising tensions with Moscow over Ukraine has also prompted calls for more indigenous gas production to reduce reliance on Russian energy supplies.

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