DGermany has enough gas. It’s right here, under our feet, 1300 billion cubic meters. That’s a lot, our whole country could heat with it for 14 years without importing anything. If we were to promote a little bit for a hundred years, we could at least push prices down. That is the good news.
The bad news is that no one wants to pump the gas. Because it’s shale gas, and to get to it you have to frack. Most citizens have an intuition that fracking can be very dangerous, they know stories from America and pictures of burning tap water. In the worst case, earthquakes can occur, methane can escape into the atmosphere, groundwater can be contaminated. That is why the grand coalition banned fracking in 2016 and commissioned a commission of experts to research the risks of fracking. Based on their report, the Bundestag should consult again in 2021. The commission was filled with nothing but environmentalists, from the Federal Environment Agency, the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research and so on. Perhaps the politicians thought that this would find out just how dangerous fracking is. The opposite happened.
The experts assessed the risk of earthquakes as “extremely low” and the risk to groundwater as “low”. With regard to methane, they found that only two to four percent escaped into the atmosphere. That’s little. Something always escapes, even with pipelines from Russia and tankers from America. Fracking has now been tried thousands of times worldwide, the technology has advanced and there are hardly any problems. The German commission members are not hotheads either, environmental protection is their concern and nothing else. The deputy chairman of the commission, Holger Weiß, says that the precautionary principle in water protection is sacrosanct: “When in doubt, we are always on the cautious side, with suspenders and Belt.” But even someone like him has to recognize when fluids used in fracking have a maximum of hazard class 1. This isn’t poison. “That’s dishwashing,” he says. “Nowadays you can do fracking with an acceptable residual risk.”
The experts’ report was published in 2021, but hardly anyone read it. Only a few hundred people visit the Commission’s website each year. There was also no interest and no debate in the Bundestag. The Economics Ministry wrote in a statement that the fracking ban had “proven”. Otherwise: no need for change. Eight months later, Russia invaded Ukraine.
Habeck ignores his own people
Today, the Economics Ministry and state governments still argue as if the report never existed. When asked whether fracking could be discussed again, a spokeswoman for Robert Habeck said fracking was banned “due to the harmful effects on the environment and water”. In Lower Saxony, too, they still consider the risks of fracking to be too great, in particular the “possible threat to drinking water”. Your source is the Federal Environment Agency. However, their top water protector Lilian Busse was part of the Federal Government’s expert commission, and as is well known, she considers the same risks to be low.