Fear is in the air in Germany – a fear of fracking and its consequences for soil and groundwater.
Initiatives have been organized around the country to prevent the extraction of domestic natural gas reserves by fracking. Federal state environment ministers have sought to change mining laws and tighten the water act, while the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) is openly calling for a ban.
The water act is designed to ensure drinking water remains healthy. Certainly, basic concerns about potential risks apply here, but, in fact, fracking is not a new technology and certainly not a high-risk process. We have been fracking in Germany for more than 50 years, predominantly to extract natural gas, without any harm to our groundwater.
It is indisputable that German prosperity rests on available energy and that the country’s energy supply will still require fossil energy in the future. But it is an illusion to think we can use 100 percent renewable energies. Natural gas makes an essential contribution as a stable and cheap energy supply. Its carbon dioxide balance is much better than that of coal or oil. The importance of natural gas will continue to grow as Germany backs away from nuclear power and reduces coal-fired power generation independent of the expansion of renewable energies.