Facing threats from Exxon Mobil and other gas producers that they would abandon a voluntary, five-year moratorium and begin hydro-fracturing for resource recovery, German legislators rushed through a vote last week that bans the practice under most circumstances.
The law will continue to allow individual German states to approve conventional drilling for gas or oil, The Guardian reports. “But hydraulic fracturing, which blasts a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals underground to release shale oil and gas, will be banned,” for all but a small number of “scientific or non-commercial purposes.”
Germany had not previously regulated fracking. Its coalition government had drafted a law on the practice last year, but ran into a wall of controversy. Even after last week’s passage of the new ban, some Green members of the Bundestag complained that the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel had used the “distractions” of the UK’s Brexit vote, coinciding with the European football (soccer) championships, to pass a law they claim was weaker than it could be.