On June 24, German lawmakers approved a measure that, for all practical purposes, bans fracking within the European nation. This follows years of debate within the country about the safety and legality of the practice, which has until now been largely unregulated. Though the fossil fuel industry has lobbied hard for fracking to remain an option within the country, this latest decision is in line with public opinion in Germany, which is deeply suspicious of the technology.
The new law allows conventional drilling for oil and gas to continue, however hydraulic fracturing (fracking) will be banned in all but a handful of cases, mostly non-commercial projects. It does allow for scientific test drilling with the permission of relevant state governments and the supervision of independent experts.
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Critics claim the ban doesn’t go far enough. For one thing, while it is supposed to be indefinite, it will also be reviewed again in five years, leaving the door open for it to potentially be lifted down the road. Greenpeace and other environmental organizations are protesting the five-year term as well as the exception for test drilling, saying that this could open up loopholes allowing oil and gas companies to continue fracking. They also believe the new legislation does not contain sufficient safeguards to protect the environment from toxic fracking fluids and wastes.
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