Frac revolt brewing in Germany

Merkel’s cabinet approves plan for fracking in Germany by Europe online, April 1, 2015
Germany is to allow fracking of shale gas for testing purposes under a plan approved Wednesday by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet, but a revolt is brewing among government legislators who say environmental restrictions aren’t strong enough.

… The public is largely hostile to the plan, amid fears that the fracking liquid will pollute groundwater.

The bill which the cabinet approved to be sent to parliament would permit test fracking and create a set of legal hurdles before full-scale fracking of a shale site could begin. It prohibits fracking in nature parks and areas where towns have their water bores. 

The industry has lobbied for a bill, arguing it has safely extracted “tight gas” from sandstone under Germany for 50 years using a form of fracking. But the prospect of exploiting the gas in shale, a different type of rock, has triggered demands for regulation.

Dozens of deputies in Merkel‘s Christian Democratic political bloc have threatened to vote against the bill, charging that it has too many loopholes. Speaking to dpa, Andreas Mattfeld, the group‘s leader, claimed more than 100 backers.

Sections of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), also part of the Merkel coalition, have voiced opposition too.

Merkel‘s coalition, comprising 504 of 631 parliamentary deputies, has so far remained largely united when it comes to parliamentary votes. [Emphasis added]

German government approves controversial fracking bill by Deutsche Welle, April 1, 2015
German cabinet has decided to allow shale gas fracking in Germany, but only under strict regulation [Where in the world, has any regulator been able to get companies to heed their regulations, even “best in the world” or “world class” and where do regulators enforce their “strict regulations?”] and for testing purposes. Even so, lawmakers criticized the proposed bill for not being strict enough.

According to the government proposal, fracking should be prohibited in so-called sensitive regions such as nature parks or water bore areas, and in depths above 3,000 meters.

[The “best in the world,” strictly regulated “Alberta Model” promoted by “experts” in Canada, like Dr. Maurice Dusseault, allow fracing within drinking water zones a measily few metres of ground surface! In Alberta, who’s watching where and how badly companies frac? No wonder frac fluids shoot out wild in Alberta! Notably with this 2012 peer reviewed research:

2012 04: Fracking requires a minimum distance of at least 0.6 kilometres from sensitive rock strata

2012 04: Hydraulic fractures: How far can they go? ]

However, the bill allows for exceptions such as scientific tests, and it does not eliminate the possibility of commercial drilling past 2018.

The public remains hostile to the plan, with environmentalists, unions and even churches criticizing the proposal.

[BIG QUESTION?  Where are the churches in Alberta?]

There is even strong resistance within the ruling coalition itself, which holds 504 out of 631 seats in the German parliament.

“Many of my fellow lawmakers could not vote for the draft bill in its current form,” Andreas Mattfeld, a member of parliament from Angela Merkel’s CDU party, said. “We couldn’t imagine indiscriminate (blanket) testing in Germany. We believe it would be reasonable to quantify it, relating to geological conditions.”

Some members of the German SPD party, which is CDU’s coalition partner, have also demanded the proposal to be changed. …


Federal environment minister Barbara Hendricks claims that the government does not intend to lift any bans. “Just the opposite: plenty of things that were possible before, are now forbidden“, she said at a press conference Wednesday. At the same time, Hendricks positioned herself against a complete ban of fracking in shale, clay and coal, saying a total ban on a technology goes against principles of the German constitution.

Whether or not this technology will someday be environmentally friendly, remains to be seen. It is possible to doubt whether Germany even needs it,” she wrote in a letter to SPD and CDU lawmakers. “However, it’s not our goal to permanently ban a new technology. Instead, our task is to eliminate the possibility of it endangering the health, lives, and the environment.”

In addition, Hendricks pointed out that in future court disputes [So the German government knows land, water, farms, families, communities and health will be harmed by fracing?], citizens will no more need to prove that their property was damaged by mining. Instead, the drilling companies would have to prove that events like earthquakes are not related to fracking. [Emphasis added]

German cabinet imposes high barriers for fracking by Reuters, April 1, 2015, The Globe and Mail
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet signed off on a draft law on Wednesday that imposes an effective ban on the controversial technique of fracking for shale gas. …

“Protecting health and drinking water are priorities. For this reason, we want to prevent fracking as far as possible,”Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks told a news conference.

The new law, which now goes to parliament for approval, will impose an outright ban on fracking for shale gas in the next few years and only allow test drilling under strict conditions. Following successful test drilling and the approval of a special committee, the new law could allow commercial fracking from 2019 but only in exceptional cases.

The new law will allow fracking for deep-lying or “tight” gas, a technology that has been used for decades in Germany. But even this type of fracking will be subject to stricter rules and environmental audits, Hendricks said. [Emphasis added]

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