BERLIN Feb 16 German Environment Minister Peter
Altmaier said on Saturday he wants to ban controversial gas
drilling methods, or fracking, in all areas where drinking water
is protected and that he would like to see legislation on
fracking in place by September.
Speaking in a video released on the government website,
Altmaier said there are unresolved issues about fracking. He
previously said he did not see that fracking would be employed
anywhere in Germany in the foreseeable future.
"I'll propose that we ban fracking in areas where drinking
water is protected and for all other areas we'll do
environmental comparability testing," Altmaier said in the
video. "I assume we'll have an intensive discussion with
companies and citizens affected."
Altmaier, who has launched a number of initiatives recently
ahead of the campaign for the Sept. 22 election, said the
ministry was working closely with the environmental protection
office and other agencies on the fracking issue.
"I'd like to see Germany have a law before the election and
that we can hold this conversation in a calm and reasonable
environment," Altmaier said. "Everyone has to know that nothing
can be approved in Germany that's not justifiable."
Fracking involves pumping vast quantities of water and
chemicals at high pressure through drill holes, which together
with vertical drilling helps prop open shale rocks to release
The upper house of parliament, where German Chancellor Angela
Merkel's governing coalition no longer has a majority, earlier
this month passed a resolution urging the cabinet to tighten
rules for fracking, which critics say may increase seismic risks
and even pollute drinking water.
In the United States, the new drilling technique has created
a shale gas boom in recent years, freeing the country of the
need to import, and changing gas flows and prices in the world
Germany produces only 14 percent of the gas it consumes and
imports 40 percent from Russia.
Industrial gas consumers say they could benefit from
fracking, as they need a secure supply at reasonable prices.
But opposition to unknown technologies is growing, and with a
national election scheduled for Sept. 22, opposition parties and
the government alike are seeking to avoid controversy.
(Reporting By Erik Kirschbaum; editing by James Jukwey)