Legislative Veto

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SPD to Energy Companies, German Consumers: Frack You

fracking protest dpa
Many Germans, like these protesting this summer in Berlin, are opposed to fracking.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    German politicians are pandering to public opinion, which is squarely against fracking, by pushing for a virtual ban on the controversial practice. Industry leaders are furious.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Draft legislation drawn up by the Social Democrat economics and environment ministers would all but ban fracking.
    • ExxonMobil has developed a new fracking process that eliminates toxic chemicals in the fracking fluid.
    • Fracking could cover Germany’s natural gas needs for 13 years.
  • Audio

    Audio

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If the Social Democrats have their way, fracking will have no future in Germany.

Handelsblatt has learned that Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks, both members of the center-left Social Democrats, are planning to submit draft legislation this month that would effectively ban hydraulic fracturing to extract shale gas, otherwise known as fracking. The Social Democrats, or SPD, are in coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats.

Maria Krautzberger, president of the Federal Environmental Agency and also a member of the SPD, confidently concluded: “I don’t see any prospects for shale gas in the foreseeable future in Germany.”

This political blockade of fracking is triggering growing resentment and open protest among German industry leaders. They accuse politicians of adhering to old prejudices, despite new information about the risks of fracking, thereby obstructing efforts to try out a promising technology.

For instance, U.S.-based ExxonMobil is now capable of forcing oil and gas out of underground rock with a fluid that only contains two harmless chemicals, Gernot Kalkoffen, head of the company’s German operations, told Handelsblatt.

“Politicians have consistently demanded that we remove toxic materials from fracking fluids,” he said. “We’ve achieved that in the laboratory, and now we want to test these fluids in pilot projects.”

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