Coalition Government Not to Submit Fracking Bill to Parliament

The Conservative/Liberal government finally decided not to agree on a bill to regulate fracking, media reports say. Hence a proposal agreed on by the Economics Ministry lead by Liberal Economics Minister Philipp Rösler and the Environment Ministry lead by Conservative Peter Altmaier in February will not be voted on in parliament.

The proposal provided for strict conditions for fracking, making an environmental impact assessment and the involvement of the water authorities and agreement with them mandatory as well as outlawing fracking in drinking water protection areas. Yet the opposition called it still too far-reaching and members of the ruling CDU coalition partner also asked for still stricter conditions.

Hence for the time being fracking projects have to be approved by the competent mining authorities pursuant to existing mining law. The Ordinance on Environmental Impact Assessments for Mining Project (UVP-V Bergbau) provides for environmental impact assessment for mining projects for the purpose of extracting commercially more than 500 tonnes of crude oil or 500,000 cubic meters of natural gas (cf. Section 1 no. 2 a UVP-V Bergbau). It is thus more lenient than the proposal by the ministries that added two new provisions in Section 1 no. 2 UVP-V Bergbau, making environmental impact assessments also mandatory for the exploration and extraction of crude oil or natural gas by deep drilling using hydraulic fracturing (cf. new Section 1 no. 2 a and b UVP-V Bergbau). An expert opinion commission by the Federal Environment Agency in August 2012, however comes to the conclusion that due to the priority of Directive 2011/92/EU on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment over UVP-V Bergbau, it has to be examined in every single case whether an environmental impact assessment is necessary.

Source: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

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