Spain to challenge Cantabria's fracking ban in court

MADRID Fri Jan 24, 2014 12:23pm EST

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MADRID Jan 24 (Reuters) - Spain's central government will file a legal challenge in the country's Constitutional Court to a fracking ban in the region of Cantabria, it said on Friday.

The central government will argue it has jurisdiction in the matter and that Cantabria's ban violates the national law on hydrocarbons, according to published resolutions from Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's weekly cabinet meeting.

Spain's parliament in November passed an environmental impact law that could open the door to hydraulic fracturing or fracking, a controversial method of extracting shale gas that has not been used up to now in the country.

The method has been banned in France and Bulgaria and lawmakers in the northern region of Cantabria unanimously voted in April to prohibit it on environmental grounds.

Spain imports almost all of its hydrocarbon needs and hopes to develop a potential shale gas field that stretches across the north of the country, from Galicia to the Basque Country, passing through the small region of Cantabria.

This week the European Commission revealed its 2030 energy strategy without barriers to exploring non-conventional, or shale, gas. (Reporting by Jose Elias Rodriguez; Writing by Fiona Ortiz; Editing by Mark Potter)

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