Germany to prepare federal rules for fracking – minister

26 February 2013 16:35  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Germany will prepare federal rules for hydraulic fracturing (fracking), the controversial technology used in shale gas exploration and production, the country’s environment minister said on Tuesday.

Germany’s government and industrial producers are looking to the country’s considerable shale gas resources to increase energy supplies, in particular as Berlin aims to exit nuclear powerIn the US, fracking has helped increase gas supplies and reduce costs.

Currently, Germany has no federal rules for fracking. Rather, the country’s states are regulating the matter on a state-by-state basis.

Environment minister Peter Altmaier said on Tuesday that he reached an agreement with the economics ministry on preparing legislation for federal rules.

The new rules would ensure that economic interests in pursuing fracking will not go at the expense of the environment, Altmaier said.

“Our proposal will be an important signal that we are serious about protecting the environment,” he said.

However, German opposition politicians said they reject the use of fracking as long as it involves the use of chemicals that could harm the environment and water resources.

“We are rejecting fracking, and its use of chemicals that endanger the environment and water resources,” said Ulrich Kelber, a parliamentarian for the opposition Social Democratic Party.

“[Germany] is a densely populated country, with complicated underground and water conditions,” Kelber said.

“As long as the fracking technology involves the use of such chemicals, its use is not acceptable,” he added.

Oliver Krischer, a parliamentarian for Germany’s Green Party, said that fracking is a high-risk technology with unpredictable consequences for water resources and the environment.

“Unlike the US, Germany cannot become an experimental ground for the gas companies,” he added. 

The opposition parties said they would seek to block any federal fracking proposal in the upper house (Bundesrat), which represents the states. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition government does not have a majority in the Bundesrat.

The country is due for federal elections later this year.

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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