Germany: “Fracking for the purpose of extracting gas from shale or coalbed at a depth above 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) will be outlawed”

Germany Shelves Shale-Gas Drilling For Next Seven Years by Jan Hromadko and Harriet Torry Connect, July 4, 2014, Wall Street Journal
Germany plans to halt shale-gas drilling for the next seven years over concerns that exploration techniques could pollute groundwater. “There won’t be [shale-gas] fracking in Germany for the foreseeable future,” Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said Friday. [Emphasis added]

German Proposal Seeks to Sharply Curtail Fracking by Melissa Eddy, July 4, 2014, The New York Times
Germany’s ministers for energy and the environment are seeking a ban on shale gas and oil drilling over the next seven years because of worries that the practice could pollute drinking water and damage the environment. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government had planned to introduce legislation in the autumn to regulate hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, bringing an end to a de facto moratorium on the practice.

“There will be no fracking for economic purposes in Germany in the near future,” Ms. Hendricks said. But she said that shale drilling could be used for exploration. Ms. Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats have yet to weigh in on the proposal by the energy and environment ministers.

Opposition to fracking runs deep in Germany. Worries that shale extraction can pollute drinking water and damage the environment have turned public opinion against the practice, even though many people are facing rising electricity prices, a result of Germany’s decision to wean itself off nuclear energy and focus more on renewable sources.

Yet business leaders also worry that Germany risks jeopardizing its position as an industrial leader if it refuses to consider exploring its shale-gas reserves. In an editorial published in the Rheinische Post newspaper on Thursday, Ulrich Grillo, president of the Federation of German Industries, warned against ignoring the potential of Germany’s natural gas reserves. “We will not gain knowledge by bans or by waiting,” Mr. Grillo wrote. [Emphasis added]

Germany to Draft Anti-Shale Fracking Rules on Public Opposition by Stefan Nicola and Birgit Jennen, July 4, 2014, Bloomberg
Germany plans to adopt regulation that will rule out shale fracking for the foreseeable future. The government wants to ban hydraulic fracturing in shale rocks and coal beds at depths less than 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) and prohibit all types of fracking in water protection areas, Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said today. The government will start drafting legislation and seek to adopt it in the second half, Hendricks told reporters today in Berlin. The rules will be re-evaluated in 2021.

While companies including Exxon Mobil Corp. have drilled test wells into unconventional gas reservoirs in Germany to emulate the U.S. shale-gas boom, little headway has been made because of public opposition. The new rules, if adopted, would be “the strictest that ever existed in this respect,” the ministers said in a joint letter to the Social Democrats. “Fracking for shale and coal bed gas for economic reasons won’t be possible in Germany for the foreseeable future.”

Fracking for tight gas, which has been done in Germany since the 1960s, will remain allowed under stricter conditions for frack fluids, the ministers said. Fracking will be allowed for scientific purposes if the fluids aren’t harmful to water supplies, it said.

Not Far Enough
The rules don’t go far enough and leave “loopholes” to allow fracking at a later stage, said Julia Verlinden, energy spokeswoman for the opposition Green Party. “If you want to prevent fracking, you don’t need science projects,” she said today in an e-mailed statement. “The risk to harm our ground and drinking water supplies with fracking doesn’t justify the short-term drilling for comparably little gas.”

The oil and gas industry says fracking should be at least tested to keep the door open…. [Emphasis added]

German proposal would outlaw most fracking until 2021 by Deutsche Welle, July 4, 2014
In a policy paper published on Friday, Berlin moved a step closer to adopting a clear policy on fracking, a compromise that has angered both environmentalists and the energy sector. “Fracking for the purpose of extracting gas from shale or coalbed at a depth above 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) will be outlawed through the water budget law,” the policy paper read. The ban could be reviewed in 2021.

Drafted by Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks, the proposed policy would permit fracking only when drinking water is not in danger. Both Gabriel and Hendricks are members of the center-left Social Democrats.

The association representing companies that extract natural gas and crude oil criticized the policy. According to Josef Schmid, the association’s general manager, the policy would bring natural gas extraction to a halt and make Germany completely dependent on imports.

Exceptions to the rule
Fracking that occurs deeper than 3,000 meters would be legal under the proposed policy, a major exception that has drawn the criticism of the Greens and environmental groups. “Under the cover of supposedly protecting water, loopholes have been created that would in fact make fracking possible in all of Germany,” said Johannes Remmel, the environment minister of North Rhine-Westphalia. Remmel is a member of the Greens. Fracking for research purposes would also be permitted, but only if the liquid being used cannot contaminate water. “If you want to seriously prevent fracking, then you don’t need to do it for research purposes,” said Julia Verlinden, the Greens’ energy expert. [Emphasis added]

[Refer also to:

Nikiforuk: What’s Missing from Canada’s Academic Fracking Debate? “The Gritty Truth.” Qu’est-ce qui manque dans le débat sur la fracturation hydraulique au Canada?

The Jessica Ernst case remains the grand elephant in the room. The veteran oil patch consultant has documented extensive groundwater contamination and can even set her own well water on fire. Her case, the subject of a major lawsuit, presents more evidence that industry knowingly fractured coal seams about 100 metres in depth nearly a decade ago in rural central Alberta. In fact public data shows the industry fractured coal seams with 62 gas wells less than 200 metres below the surface and 11 wells less than 175 metres and another 133 wells above the so-called Baseline of Groundwater Protection at Rosebud, Alberta alone.

Gas wells in other Alberta communities have also been fracked above the base of groundwater protection. [Emphasis added]

December 20, 2013: Pennsylvania Supreme Court Says It’s Unconstitutional For Gas Companies To Frack Wherever They Want; Act 13, Gas Industry Takeover Law thrown out by State’s Highest Court

“By any responsible account,” Chief Justice Castille wrote, “the exploitation of the Marcellus Shale Formation will produce a detrimental effect on the environment, on the people, their children, and the future generations, and potentially on the public purse, perhaps rivaling the environmental effects of coal extraction.” ]

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