After years of discussion and debate, Germany’s Coalition Government has finally agreed to ban shale gas and fracking. While some are hailing the decision and praising the new policy others do not believe the law goes far enough.
The question of fracking has been continuous for years in Germany particularly in regards to the risks posed to drinking water. German industry has opposed the decision arguing that it would lower energy costs.
Still, the ban isn’t as complete as one might think to begin with. Test drilling will still be allowed although it will require the permission of the respective state government. As a matter of compromise, the legislation requires the German Parliament to reassess the decision in 2021.
Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) has criticized the proposal and stated that the 2021 reevaluation date amounts to a legalization of fracking after five years. Head of BUND Hubert Weiger stated, “The Coalition’s agreement on a fracking permission law is hair-raising. The law must be stopped and replaced with a true fracking ban.”
Germany’s ban on fracking follows a similar ban put in place by France. Before the legislation was passed, fracking was largely unregulated in Germany and a lack of specific rules was an invitation for the fracking industry and companies like Exxon Mobile and Wintersal to go ahead with fracking projects. Thus, the rush by these companies was the impetus for the legislation.
As it is, the recent legislation will ban all but test drilling till 2021, a step, at least, in the right direction. Similar legislation was on the verge of being passed a year ago but a disagreement between the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats prevented its success. The recent legislation is a result of a compromise between these two parties.
By Brandon Tuberville