Spain’s shale-rich northern Cantabria region unanimously voted to ban fracking, the law passed with support from all political parties

Shale-rich Spanish region vote to ban fracking by Tracy Rucinsk, with additional reporting by Paul Day, Clare Kane, and Henning Gloystein, April 8, 2013, Reuters
Lawmakers in Spain’s northern Cantabria region unanimously voted on Monday to ban hydraulic fracturing on environmental concerns, shooting down the central government’s hopes for a project to boost jobs in a region believed to be rich in shale gas. Spain, battling a deep recession and high unemployment, imports about 76 percent of its energy needs and the technology to extract shale gas, known as fracking, could help relieve its foreign dependence on oil, coal and gas.Early estimates indicate Spain has large shale gas reserves…. Cantabria’s ruling People’s Party (PP), which has an absolute majority in the regional parliament, proposed the law to ban the practice. The bill passed with support from all political parties in the Cantabrian parliament on Monday afternoon. The Cantabrian parliament said on its Twitter feed: “Unanimous. Law to ban hydraulic fracturing approved.” 

“In Cantabria, there is a very large social movement against fracking… the bill will be passed unanimously by the three parliamentary groups. The region is very small and highly populated,” a PP source told Reuters earlier on Monday. However, at a national level, the PP has voiced support for hydraulic fracturing as long as it complies with environmental rules. The ruling PP, which controls the Spanish parliament, could seek to appeal or overturn Cantabria’s ban. … Shale Gas Europe, a lobby group, says Spanish shale gas reserves are among the biggest in the world. “Spain’s significant reserves, if technically recoverable, will transform its economy at a time when the country is struggling with a burgeoning debt and has been forced to adopt austerity measures,” the group says. Although there is no reliable data available, some analysts say Spain’s shale gas reserves could be as high as 1.4 trillion cubic meters, enough to cover European Union demand for around three years.

Early estimates have, however, proven unreliable in other cases. Poland, which had hoped to be sitting in some of Europe’s biggest reserves, had to slash its initial estimates by 90 percent last year after detailed follow-up surveys and drillings disappointed. [Emphasis added]

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