EU Official Wants Search For Shale Gas Restricted

July 6, 2011
German politician Jo Leinen, chair of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety at the European Union Parliament, wants to introduce a directive that would restrict the expansion of the search for shale gas in the EU.

“We need to be looking much more carefully at shale gas, and at the consequences of pursuing it,” Mr Leinen told The Guardian in an interview.

Specifically, Mr Leinen wants to limit shale gas extraction and impose fines for damages done during hydraulic fracturing. 'Fracking,' the most widely-used technique used for extracting shale gas, has raised environmental concerns of late, and was recently banned in France.

Mr Leinen, a Social Democratic Party (SPD) MEP, cannot propose legislation directly, but could help new regulation gain traction in the European Parliament. Mr Leinen said there would be support for legislation restricting drilling for shale gas, as EU politicians are increasingly concerned about the possible negative consequences of shale gas extraction.

Fracking involves pumping a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into deep deposits at high pressure, allowing the gas to escape and flow up through wells.

Environmentalists warn that some of the chemicals used in the process can be harmful if they enter the water supply. Methane, a greenhouse gas, is also released in the process.

Poland, where several companies are currently prospecting for shale gas, has pinned a lot of hope on its allegedly enormous reserves. British firm 3Legs Resources was the first company to successfully reach a shale deposit, when it discovered gas in Łebień, northern Poland, in June.

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