German upper house passes resolution to tighten fracking rules

German upper house passes resolution to tighten fracking rules by Reuters, February 1, 2013, The Globe and Mail
Germany’s upper house of parliament passed a resolution on Friday urging Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to tighten the rules for controversial modern drilling techniques, or fracking, for unconventional gas. The resolution piles the pressure on the government to draw up clear rules for the practice, which critics say could increase seismic risks and even pollute drinking water.  The Bundesrat upper house, which represents Germany’s 16 federal states, passed a resolution that demands an assessment of the environmental impact of fracking and public consultation before it can be started. “This is about rejecting the use of this technology until the risks are cleared up 100 per cent,” Torsten Albig, the Social Democrat (SPD) premier of the northern state of Schleswig Holstein, said in the Bundesrat, adding peoples’ safety had to be the top priority.

However, EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger urged Germany to keep an open mind on fracking, saying the EU wanted to develop the practice, to produce at least enough gas to replace its own dwindling conventional supplies and to avoid becoming more import-dependent. … Germany’s powerful industrial lobby has complained that companies may lose their competitive edge compared to U.S. rivals because of the boom which has led to a sharp fall in gas prices there. The resolution was proposed by states run by the opposition SPD and Greens in the house where Ms. Merkel’s centre-right coalition do not have a majority. Permits for fracking, issued by individual states, may only be granted if it is absolutely clear that there is no risk of the water supply being affected, according to the resolution. … However, in recent months, there has been a de facto freeze on granting licences in Germany. [Emphasis added]

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