After years of discussion, the German Bundestag on Friday (June 24) approved a law which substantially restricts fracking activities in the country. Under the new legislation, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, will be banned in clay formations, which typically lie between 1,000 and 2,500 meters deep, Reuters reported. Fracking for deep-lying gas (typically 4,000 to 5,000 meters deep) will continue but under more stringent regulation. The technique, which involves blasting chemicals and water into rock formations to release trapped hydrocarbons, could be allowed for scientific purposes only after meeting the requirements of a special experts committee and with the approval of regional authorities.
According to Reuters, Germany’s coalition government agreed on a compromise legislation after the vote on a similar draft law stalled last year amid disagreements between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Social Democrats (SPD). Using their majority in parliament, CDU and SPD succeeded in passing the agreed measure.
According to Bloomberg, the accelerated adoption of the fracking ban comes in light of a report informing that companies which have sought licenses for exploration, such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and Wintershall AG, were preparing to proceed nevertheless.
Although the conventional drilling for oil and gas is not restricted, the law prohibits such activities in the zones supplying water for consumption.
While the effect of the ban is not restricted by a time limit, the legislation is subjected to a five year revision, taking place in 2021.
(Image: The Reichstag. December 2013. Photo credit: young shanahan/Flickr)