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The German Federal Government has now produced a regulation proposal that aims to allow fracking in Germany. This draft is, however, facing criticism from environmental associations, which claim that it is incomplete and risky. According to these associations, the government should focus on the implementation of the energy transition instead of researching further fossil resources. Although the debate on fracking went back and forth for a long time, the decision has now been made to allow the extraction of gas in Germany using the controversial mining method. The new directive from the German Federal Government states that fracking will be permitted in individual cases under certain conditions.

According to a report published on the website EurActiv, the German Federal Minister for the Environment, Barbara Hendricks, has done everything possible to dispel doubts over the controversial gas extraction technology. The report quotes the SPD politician as saying that „in this bill, we are presenting the strictest regulations ever to be stipulated in the field of fracking“. She goes on to explain that fracking will only be permitted under the strictest of conditions giving top priority to the environment and drinking water and that this will not apply until 2019 at the earliest because experience still needs to be gained from trial drillings up to this point. Fracking activities in water and nature protection areas are also a no-go.

Plans are in place to strictly regulate the gas extraction method of fracking next year. This was revealed in the German Federal Government’s recent response (18/2984) to a minor interpellation launched by the German parliamentary group Alliance’90/The Greens (18/2829). According to the response, a regulation should be adopted by the German Federal Cabinet by the end of the year and then approved by the German Federal Parliament and Federal Council of Germany in the first half of 2015. According to the German Federal Government, the regulation will mainly focus on protecting health and the environment and will be based on a current set of guidelines produced by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMBWi) and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).

A ban on fracking in Germany would lead to a number of competitive disadvantages for PVC production activities, as was proven by Hans-Christian Porth from VESTOLIT in his presentation on „PVC in Europe“ at the „PVC and the Environment“ workshop in June. In fact, the field of PVC production in Europe is now already suffering from a cost disadvantage (raw materials + energy) of 150 to 200 US dollars per ton in comparison with the USA, where fracking technology is used intensively and resulting in a boom in the chemical industry.

The German Federal Government has decided to respond to the controversial method of using fracking activities to extract natural gas by introducing a regulatory package that gives the protection of health and drinking water „absolute priority“. In a recent response (18/2478) to a minor interpellation (18/2227) launched by the German parliamentary group Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, the government announced that it would make a corresponding cabinet decision in November 2014.

It also explained that it wants to legally prohibit fracking in slate and coal seam rock formations that are located an insufficient distance away from usable groundwater because experts are not yet able to estimate the impacts of such activities due to a lack of experience of fracking in Germany. The German Federal Government has additionally announced that it also plans to place strict restrictions on fracking in other rock formations and at large depths, using its response to declare that it will „introduce the strictest rules that have ever existed in this area in Germany“. As a result, fracking activities for the extraction of shale and coal seam gas for economic purposes will not take place in Germany „for the foreseeable future“.

A ban on fracking here in Germany would lead to a number of competitive disadvantages for PVC production activities, as was proven by Hans-Christian Porth from VESTOLIT in his presentation on „PVC in Europe“ at the „PVC and the Environment“ workshop in June. In fact, the field of PVC production in Europe is now already suffering from a cost disadvantage (raw materials + energy) of 150 to 200 US dollars per ton in comparison with the USA, where fracking technology is used intensively.