Federal Council: Proposal to Restrict Fracking

On 11 July 2014 the Federal Council also decided in a plenary session to refer a fracking proposal on to its committees. The federal states Schleswig-Holstein, Baden-Wuerttemberg and Hessen had introduced a proposal to amend the German Federal Mining Act, intended to restrict natural gas production by means of fracking.

The governments of the proposing three federal states argued that fracking is environmentally hazardous, especially the production out of shale gas deposits, and often the public is not involved in the planning procedure for gas drilling. The proposal shall initiate a dialogue between the Federal States (Länder) and the Federal Government, and shall finally lead to an amendment of the Federal Mining Act.

The amendment shall include a prohibition of the use of toxic substances, a clarification that permissions may be revoked in later licensing procedures, a more transparent approval procedure and a mandatory environmental impact assessment (EIA).

The proposal was controversially discussed in the plenary session. The environment secretary in Lower Saxony Stefan Wenzel (who is a party member of the Green Party) nevertheless argued that conventional natural gas deposits will remain a vital component in the energy turnaround as long as the power demand cannot fully be covered by renewables. 95% of the German natural gas production comes from Lower Saxony.

Sources: Bundesrat

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