Energy Chief Oettinger: EU to Review Fracking This Year

Energy Chief Oettinger: EU to Review Fracking This Year

The European Union will review hydraulic fracturing and the environmental concerns surrounding the practice this year, EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger says in newspaper Die Welt.

"Protecting areas where drinking and ground water are present, such as at Lake Constance, is absolutely right," and the EU will look more closely at hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, this year, Mr. Oettinger says.

Fracking, the practice of injecting large volumes of water along with sand and chemicals into the ground to release shale gas, is a source of concern for environmentalists, who believe it can contaminate the water supply.

Germany, however, should not write off the practice, Mr. Oettinger advises.

Germany should "also recognize the potential that shale gas has and create a framework to allow demonstration projects and practical tests," Mr. Oettinger says. "If we permit test drilling we'll be all the wiser in a few years and better informed regarding costs."

While Germans worry about the possible environmental impact, the country also doesn't want to put its industry at an economic disadvantage by depriving it of an inexpensive energy source.

The premier of the German state of Hesse, Volker Bouffier, tells the newspaper that until the risks are better understood, a moratorium makes sense.

"If we develop a technique that doesn't use hazardous chemicals or come with other problems, we should leave the possibility open," Mr. Bouffier says. "Until we know that's possible, we should have a binding moratorium," he adds.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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