Bundestag Debate About Fracking Bill Postponed Until Autumn

The debate about a legislative package regulating the controversial fracking technology seems to become an never ending story. The ruling coalition government composed of Conservatives (CDU/CSU) and Social Democrats (SPD) has withdrawn bills concerning the controversial fracking technology. Parliament (Bundestag) was supposed to debate this Friday. The withdrawal is due to concern from within the parties, in particular against the involvement of an expert commission. The bill shall now be submitted to Parliament in autumn media sources say.

In another attempt to regulate fracking in Germany the Federal Cabinet approved a legislative package aimed at introducing specific provisions for fracking tightening existing provisions in the mining and water laws (regarding the legislation and previous attempts to regulate fracking, please see here).

Concern was however not only expressed by the opposition, i.e. the Green Party and the Left, but also from within the coalition parties. These voices seem to have prevailed. Concern relates in particular to the influence of an expert commission. According to a new Section 13a in the Federal Water Resources Act (WHG), the hydraulic fracturing technology shall be prohibited in principle for drilling operations shallower than 3,000 meters except for scientific research projects exploring the consequences of fracking. However, the permitting authority may make an exception if an independent expert commission (to be set up according to Section 13a para. 6 WHG), which provides support concerning the above mentioned scientific research projects, comes to the conclusion that fracking in the geological formation is safe. SPD Parliament members like Dr. Nina Scheer, member of the Committee for Economics and Energy, demand that parliament must have the last word.

For the time being the old legislative regime for fracking, which is actually more lenient, will therefore apply. Permits are, however, mostly not issued in the sixteen German federal states for the time being (for more information, please see here).

Source: Tagesspiegel, Solarserver

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