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German Government Agrees To Ban Fracking Indefinitely (reuters.com) 180

An anonymous reader writes: On Tuesday, the German coalition government agreed to ban fracking for shale gas indefinitely. Reuters reports: "Test drilling will be allowed but only with the permission of the respective state government, officials said. German industry is keen to keep the door open to fracking -- which involves blasting chemicals and water into rocks to release trapped gas -- arguing it could help lower energy costs, but opposition is strong in the country, where a powerful green lobby has warned about possible risks to drinking water. If the law is approved by parliament, Germany will follow France, which has banned fracking, whereas Britain allows it subject to strict environmental and safety guidelines. The two parties agreed on Tuesday to an indefinite ban, but the compromise legislation calls for the German parliament to reassess whether the decision is still valid in 2021, said Thomas Oppermann, who heads the SPD's parliamentary group. CDU officials confirmed that a compromise had been reached. Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) criticized the proposal and said that by setting a date for a fresh look, the coalition had essentially agreed to allow fracking in five years." Last year, Bloomberg published an article making the case that the U.S. must consider the earthquake situation in Oklahoma a national security threat.
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German Government Agrees To Ban Fracking Indefinitely

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  • by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @06:33PM (#52370497) Journal

    Who'd of thought that frak would turn out to be a dirtier word that fuck.

    Frak the fraking frakkers!

  • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @06:40PM (#52370543)

    No nukes, no fracking. What are German Greens going to say when Ruhrkohle, or whatever it's being called now, starts digging the giant lignite pits it has long planned to fill in for the now totally hollowed-out national baseload?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dwye ( 1127395 )

      No, again, of course. No to anything but Russian natural gas imports.

      • And imported French power.

      • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Thursday June 23, 2016 @03:20AM (#52372429) Homepage
        Natural gas in Germany accounted for 8.8% of all electric energy generation in 2015, down from 12.1% in 2012. Other sources were lignite (24.0%), anthrazite (18.2%), nuclear (14.1%) and oil (0.8%). Renewables were at 30%, and 4% not specified.

        At least that's what the government publishes [www.bmwi.de].

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Germany's imports of gas are going down: https://upload.wikimedia.org/w... [wikimedia.org]

        Part of their plan for transition is to reduce energy consumption, e.g. by insulating homes so they need less heating and cooling. Every year they are getting less dependent on gas.

        At the moment Germany imports about 35% of its gas from Russia because it is cheap. However, they have made sure they are not dependent on any one supplier, as any sensible government would. They get the rest from other European suppliers like Norway.

        • At the moment Germany imports about 35% of its gas from Russia because it is cheap
          Nope.
          We import gas from russia, because we get it more or less for free. In the 1970s we made a 50 years contract with russia, Germany delivered pipes to connect Russia to Europe, in return we got gas as payment. Or in other words a super cheap gas contract as payment.

          Probably some German who knows more about it can put in the details?

          However, they have made sure they are not dependent on any one supplier, as any sensible g

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            At the moment Germany imports about 35% of its gas from Russia because it is cheap
            Nope.
            We import gas from russia, because we get it more or less for free. In the 1970s we made a 50 years contract with russia, Germany delivered pipes to connect Russia to Europe, in return we got gas as payment. Or in other words a super cheap gas contract as payment.

            That's exactly what I said. You even put it in bold. Germany has a deal that gets it cheap gas from Russia, it's not that it absolutely has to import it from there and nowhere else for some reason.

            Germany takes a pragmatic approach. No point shutting down that link and further alienating Russia, that won't help anyone. But also be prepared in case they turn it off at the other end.

      • And Russia wouldn't be funding any anti-fracking activists or protesters (or other eco-activists, for that matter), would they?
    • by Sique ( 173459 )
      You seem to be pseudo-informed. Ruhrkohle AG does not mine lignite. They mine anthrazite in Ibbenbühren and Bottrop. The lignite is mainly mined by RWE (at the Lower Rhine), MIBRAG (Central Germany) and Vattenfall (Lausitz). Vattenfall tries to sell its lignite activities in Germany though. At the Rhine, Hambach and Garzweiler II are already mined, and it is estimated that they will be done between 2040 and 2045. Hambach II, while being planned in the 1990ies, will not be realized. MIBRAG has stopped a
    • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

      yes, lets just completely ignore the massive solar infrastructure already in place in Germany and set to continue expanding. Germany, a country further north than the US yet with a much larger installed solar area and larger portion of energy delivered from it.

    • You are pretty dumb.

      What are German Greens going to say when Ruhrkohle, or whatever it's being called now, starts digging They need a permit for that, too. So likely: njiet.
      the giant lignite pits it has long planned to fill Exhausted pits are refilled, or converted to lakes or simply reforrested.
      in for the now totally hollowed-out national baseload?
      What has base load to do with that?

      Probably you should look up what base load means. Germany has a base load demand of about 40% of peak. How should that ever

  • All I can do is read that headline and giggle...

  • Putin rejoices (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mi ( 197448 ) <slashdot-2016q1@virtual-estates.net> on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @07:10PM (#52370691) Homepage Journal

    The alternative to fracking is buying more gas from Russia's Gazprom.

    Last year, Bloomberg published an article making the case that the U.S. must consider the earthquake situation in Oklahoma a national security threat.

    Maybe. But buying stuff from an aggressor is certainly increasing a national security threat. Does Germany believe, Putin will be satisfied with Ukraine and the Baltic states?

    The way the rest of the world believed, throwing Czechoslovakia to Germany will bring "peace for our time [wikipedia.org]"?

    • Merkel wants alliance with Putin and is only being stopped by NATO. A German-Russian axis could dominate the continent. German know-how and technology combined with Russian manpower and natural resources are an unstoppable juggernaut. Why do you think the rest of the world was so dead-set against this union when the Germans tried it by force? Now, it can happen peacefully, no more Stalingrads. Give the Germans credit for learning something. Never get involved in a land war in Asia.
      • Invading a country to exterminate its population and plunder its resources isn't quite the same as partnering with it to form an axis that dominates the continent. You eat a turkey- you don't marry one.
    • The alternative to fracking is buying more gas from Russia's Gazprom.

      Or they could do what we will all to do eventually, which is to 1) cut back on our energy wastage and 2) develop renewable energy asap. When America uses - how much? - 15 times or even more energy per person than the average person in a developing country, then there clearly is some scope for saving energy. Even in Europe we don't waste as much as Americans do - and our living standard is certainly comparable; and some would say better in many respects.

      As for whether renewable energy is ever going to be fea

      • by Tom ( 822 )

        2) develop renewable energy asap

        Germany was the world leader in renewable energy, until our government decided to shoot the whole thing in the knee. I'm quite certain bribes and promises of well-paid board positions were involved.

    • by Tom ( 822 )

      But buying stuff from an aggressor

      So we should stop buying stuff from Saudi Arabia (currently invading Jemen) immediately? I'm for it. From the USA of course, don't even have enough space here to list all the countries they have bombed and invaded in the past 50 years.

      Russia? An aggressor? Sorry, which parallel universe do you live in?

      Does Germany believe, Putin will be satisfied with Ukraine and the Baltic states?

      How would the USA react if, say, Mexiko would join an economic and military alliance lead by Russia? Wait, we don't have to speculate, we know what would happen, because there is Cuba.

      Actually, we should specu

      • Ukraine was part of the Soviet union, never part of Russia. Russians are confused about the difference.

    • But buying stuff from an aggressor is certainly increasing a national security threat.

      If I lived in an area that was experiencing fracking-induced earthquakes, I would probably be overwhelmed by the devil's bargain I would have to strike: keep living there, and probably lose everything to an earthquake (which isn't an insurable loss anymore just about anywhere). Or support the movement to stop fracking, and support an evil empire (which may or may not ever affect me, but would weigh heavily on my moral conscience).

      Fracking is going to depress property values in the affected areas, so moving

    • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

      yes. its a totally binary decision.
      because we're just gonna completely ignore the massive solar infrastructure already in place in Germany and set to continue expanding.
      Germany, a country further north than the US yet with a much larger installed solar area and larger portion of energy delivered from it.
      because that's just how Mi rolls.

    • Re:Putin rejoices (Score:4, Informative)

      by angel'o'sphere ( 80593 ) on Thursday June 23, 2016 @08:48AM (#52373373) Journal

      The alternative to fracking is buying more gas from Russia's Gazprom.
      Germany is reducing its gas usage year by year, so how should we need to "buy more gas"?

      On the other hand Germany is world wide leader in techniques that are similar to fracking, we do that since the 1950s.

      The ban is about "shale gases", which is a different kind of fracking. So if there are engineers who know about the problems regarding "frackings" it is the german ones.

      If we would do shale gas fracking we would do it for export, likely. Not to use it. Actually the german gas market is rather small.

      Does Germany believe, Putin will be satisfied with Ukraine and the Baltic states?
      No we don't believe that. But political problems have to be solved with political solutions. Not by stepping back from a 50 year old contract about gas deliveries that is to our favour!

      • 1950s is very late to the fracking game.

        It's been done for 100+ years. The environmentalists found a new boogie man about 10 years ago and act like fracking is something new.

    • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

      except that chamberlain gets a bad rap from people (like you) who only learned the surface of history, and not the rest of it.
      like the fact that chamberlain didn't actually believe it was a lasting peace and immediately began ramping up the british industry for the coming conflict.

      he knew it would be only temporary at best. but he also knew that his country, still reeling from the depression and with a cratered industrial base like most European nations, was in no condition to engage in conflict with German

  • People, businesses and politicians act like there is no alternative to the water/chemical mixture. The truth is liquefied propane gas can work just as well and 100% of it is recovered and used as gas.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tomhath ( 637240 )
      The people opposed to gas drilling don't want an alternative. They want to stop the use of fossil fuels.
  • by Sir Holo ( 531007 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @08:10PM (#52371027)

    It's only a moratorium, not a ban.

    There is a big difference.

  • Just to be clear: Fracking (short for fracturing) has been around almost as long as humans have been digging wells. Way back when, dynamite was used for fracking oil wells. I believe shaped charges were also used. And even Hydraulic Fracking has been tried a number of times with varying methods. Plain old water pressure and also steam have been used. So Fracking itself is not the problem, as it's been around forever and has many methods. What's different about fracking as used in the context of this article
    • by Plus1Entropy ( 4481723 ) on Thursday June 23, 2016 @12:05AM (#52371987)

      Isn't another difference in modern hydraulic fracturing that they drill the last portion of the well horizontally before pumping the fluid into it?

      My understanding is that this particular innovation made modern fracking more economically viable. I assume it's because it allows you to access more of the gas trapped in the strata without having to drill as many holes. It is also my understanding that this is the reason the gas can potentially vent out of random, unpredictable places in the ground, not just out of the well hole itself.

      • by tomhath ( 637240 )

        It is also my understanding that this is the reason the gas can potentially vent out of random, unpredictable places in the ground, not just out of the well hole itself.

        I've never heard of that happening. The videos of flaming faucets/garden hoses in the "documentary" about gas drilling were proven fake.

      • Horizontal drilling is also a fairly old technique, though the technology for doing it has been getting more reliable and more affordable over the nearly 30 years that I've been working in drilling. You can certainly fracture horizontal wells, just as well as vertical ones. It's all a question of length of exposed reservoir and permeability of that reservoir. When I'm steering a horizontal well, we've typically got a target of [so many] milliDarcy * feet to achieve the well's production requirements. (milli
  • Pro Frackers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pablo_max ( 626328 ) on Thursday June 23, 2016 @01:09AM (#52372131)

    To be honest, I have a very time to understand the pro-fracking movement in the US.
    It seems that public in general in America is very, very short sighted.
    There is actually a lot of evidence to support the premise that fracking not only pollutes the ground water, but also causes mild earth quakes.

    Perhaps, in time, they will find out that it is safe. Who knows. But, right now there is a very reasonable doubt.

    Here's the thing.
    Oil is important. We all know that. We depend on it for our modern world. Sure, there are substitutions for nearly every application of oil, but they are expensive. Thus would of course cause harm to the economy should we run out or stop using it all together.

    Water, on the other hand. Is not important. It is literally life and death. We cannot live without the stuff. No ifs ands or buts about it. If we pollute all of our drinking water, we will all die.
    So, why the fuck would people take that chance? To save 15 or 20 bucks filling their gas tanks? It makes no sense.

    I sometime wonder; maybe the whole plan IS to pollute the water. The oil companies are buying a lot of water rights and have been for a long time.
    So, if they pollute all the water except for the areas in which they control, they would have a monopoly on fresh drinking water. Then we would have a water cartel in place of an oil cartel. Forever raising the price of water and literally holding the life of the population in their hands.
     

    • by tomhath ( 637240 )

      There is actually a lot of evidence to support the premise

      Not evidence. Just speculation and FUD by people opposed to the use of fossil fuel.

    • There is actually a lot of evidence to support the premise that fracking not only pollutes the ground water, but also causes mild earth quakes.

      Cite? Because the mechanism of the first is very non-obvious and the second seems like a good thing.

      On ground water pollution, unless we're having a lot of trouble with surface-level spills of fracking fluid (which argues for higher standards and tighter regulation, not banning), it's very difficult to see how injecting fracking fluid thousands of feet below the groundwater can have any effect on it.

      On the quake issue, it seems clear that fracking cannot cause earthquakes, it can only accelerate and red

      • Ok..
        Here is only one recent study.
        http://www.pnas.org/content/11... [pnas.org]
        There are loads out there. ... it's very difficult to see how injecting fracking fluid thousands of feet below the groundwater can have any effect on it.

        Are you joking? You fail to see how injecting a crap ton of chemicals below the water table can impact the water table? Really?
        You know that just because you put it in the ground, does not mean they stay down there, right?

        BTW; the USGS website does say there are, though few, direct links bet

        • Are you joking? You fail to see how injecting a crap ton of chemicals below the water table can impact the water table? Really? You know that just because you put it in the ground, does not mean they stay down there, right?

          Given that the fracking fluids are, by design, very heavy, yes it's very difficult to see how they're going to migrate upward thousands of feet in anything less than geologic time scales. The arguments in the study you cite actually support my argument. They are theorizing shallow fractures and surface pit leakage as the mechanism for the contamination, not fracking fluid working its way up large distances.

          BTW; the USGS website does say there are, though few, direct links between fracking and quakes.

          Which in no way refutes my point. I granted that it makes perfect sense that fracking could cause eart

          • I also see a lot of overlap between fracking opponents and supporters of other forms of pseudoscience, such as homeopathy, anti-vaccine arguments, etc., which doesn't do much to convince me.

            Yeah, I see that too. (I'm a professional in the oilfield.)

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      It can be explained by billions of dollars spent convincing people that fracking is great.

    • Perhaps with time?

      Fracking is more than 100 years old. It was just recently noticed and made into a boogie man by the fucking hippies but is nothing new.

    • There is actually a lot of evidence to support the premise that fracking not only pollutes the ground water, but also causes mild earth quakes.

      Most fracking is done several km undeground. Most groundwater aquifers are less than a km underground, usually less than 100 meters. The premise behind the fracking fluid polluting groundwater requires you to believe that the fluid can permeate several km up through the rock, while simultaneously water is incapable of draining down several km. If pollution from f

      • The premise behind the fracking fluid polluting groundwater requires you to believe that the fluid can permeate several km up through the rock, while simultaneously water is incapable of draining down several km.

        You're forgetting the point (which is also forgotten by almost all the people who know nothing and talk a lot) that the particular rocks that you're trying to fracture are below a sequence of rocks of low enough permeability that hydrocarbons (oil and/ or gas) have been trapped in them, despite cons

  • completely wrong (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Thursday June 23, 2016 @03:49AM (#52372481) Homepage Journal

    Funny how the story changes completely across the Atlantic.

    Here in local news (I live in Germany), the decision is largely painted as allowing fracking and the coalition partners are slammed for not having enough guts to outlaw it, which apparently was the original proposal before it was watered down.

    The "if the states allow it" is the federal government cop-out if they can't find a solution. Because we have two houses as well, one elected by the people directly and one with representatives from all states, and because people sometimes vote differently in local vs. federal elections and because of different coalitions, holding a majority in one doesn't automatically mean holding one in the other, much like it is in the USA.

    So when the coalition could push something through the Bundestag, but not through the Bundesrat, their solution is "leave it up to the states". Spineless cowards, all of them. Always change your opinion so you find a majority.

    The important thing is that a lot of NGOs and opposition parties wanted a ban on fracking, and they didn't have the spine to do it. This is not a ban, it's basically a permission with the added bureaucracy that you need a local permission.

    • If Germany is anything like the UK - and statistically, it likely is - then there will have been several hundred wells drilled in Germany and fractured already. Including particularly wells for producing drinking water.

      The first well fractured in Britain that we can find records of was in the early 1950s (a lot of records from the early onshore production were lost in world war 2 however). Given the amount of exploration work done along the edge of the Zechstein basin, trying to find analogues of the Groni [wikipedia.org]

  • This must have been submitted by someone who does not know how law and politics work in Germany. The federal government has forwarded a proposal to regulate fracking. Not to ban it. And it ultimately leaves the decision to the individual states, most of which are in dire need of more funding. Some of the state governments have already expressed support for fracking – this is the enabling piece of legislation they have been waiting for.

    And in contrast to the praise some AC showered over our social demo

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