Federal Cabinet Not to Vote on Fracking Bill

A legal framework for the fracking technology used for extracting nat­ural gas and oil from deep underground is not likely to be voted on by Parliament in the near future. Due to disagreement within the ruling Conservative/Liberal coalition the Federal Cabinet will not vote on a fracking bill on Wednesday, various newspapers report.

The new debate about the controversial fracking technology had been caused by demands from Conservative CDU members from Baden-Württemberg, who wanted to ban fracking in the Lake Constance region, the newspaper Welt says. The liberal FDP coalition partner, however, feared that this would mean that other areas close to drinking water areas (Trinkwassereinzugsgebiete) would be exempted as well, leading to a ban of fracking in virtually all of Germany.

In late February the Federal Environment Ministry (BMU) and the Federal Economics Ministry (BMWi) had presented a joint proposal in order to regulate the use of the controversial fracking method for the exploration and extraction of (shale) gas or oil or geothermal energy, setting strict conditions. The proposal provided for a mandatory environmental impact assessment, outlawed fracking in drinking water protection areas and made the involvement of the water authorities and agreement with them mandatory.

The fracking technology, which creates fractures in rocks and rock formations by injecting fluids into cracks to force them further open could potentially lead to contaminations of the ground water, BMU and the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) said when presenting a study on the fracking technology in September 2012. Concerns and uncertainties existed in particular with regard to the chemicals injected into the shale rock to break it open and with regard to the disposal of the flowback, they pointed out.

In April German EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger had warned that Germany risked losing its competitiveness given its hesitant stance towards energy issues such as fracking, geothermal energy and the CCS technology.

If a vote on a fracking bill will take place before the political summer recess or the Federal Election on 22 September 2013 remains currently unclear.

Source: Welt

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