Chemical fracking, the use of chemically infused high pressure water to blast apart layers of underground shale to free trapped oil and gas, is the rule in the U.S., despite mounting evidence that some of those chemicals are toxic and are invading local water supplies.
But not in Germany, thanks to new legislation that bans chemical fracking and sets new limits of fracking using water alone.
Still, that won’t solve that earthquake problem.
From Deutsche Welle:
A new legislative package on the use of fracking in Germany went into effect on Saturday, following much heated debate.
The legislation largely bans a particularly controversial form of fracking and imposes stricter rules on fracking overall. The German parliament and the 16 German states had approved the laws in June and July of 2016 after years of push-and-pull over environmental concerns and economic interests.
For environmentalists, the new laws don’t go far enough: They want a complete ban on all types of fracking. “If we want to meet the climate goals set in Paris, we need a clear ban on every type of oil and gas fracking,” said Kai Niebert, the chairman of Deutscher Naturschutzring, an umbrella organization for German environmentalist groups.
Fracking – short for hydraulic fracturing – is a method used for extracting fossil fuels. A mix of water, sand and chemicals is pushed into the ground at high pressure to press out gas or oil. It allows the extraction of previously out-of-reach resources, but also poses environmental risks.
The new German laws distinguish between “conventional fracking” and “unconventional fracking.”
Unconventional fracking is used when gas or oil is found not just embedded in rock strata, but bound to the stone. In these cases, the fossil fuel often no longer has gaseous or liquid form. Extremely high pressure and high amounts of fracking liquid – often containing highly toxic chemicals – are needed to extract the fuel.
That practice is now banned in Germany until at least 2021, with the exception of up to four test drillings for scientific purposes. The German parliament is set to reassess the ban in four years’ time.