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Merkel says fracking Germany not easy

The Local · 20 Feb 2013, 21:00

Published: 20 Feb 2013 21:00 GMT+01:00

The technology of "hydraulic fracturing", which has unlocked immense gas and oil resources and changed the geopolitics of energy, would "very probably also open up new gas deposits in Germany," Merkel told the Straubinger Tagblatt.

"Contrary to large parts of the United States, we are living here in a very densely populated country," Merkel told the regional daily in an interview.

The technology, also called "unconventional" production, remains highly controversial, with widespread, serious worries for the environment and the health of people living near the "fracking" locations.

It has been banned in France since 2011 but German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier promised at the weekend to introduce legislation on the topic before federal elections on September 22.

"We have to look very carefully as to whether this technology can be used here as well. For me, the most important thing is that there should be no danger to people or the environment," insisted the chancellor.

She vowed a "dialogue" between companies, politicians and citizens before any major decisions were taken on the use of the technique in Germany.

Since its invention in 2007, "fracking" has become the energy boom of the 21st century, with tens of billions of dollars in revenue and hundreds of thousands of new jobs.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

00:21 February 21, 2013 by zeddriver
The most common fracking fluid is 90% water, 9.5% sand. The EPA says that the remaining chemicals MAY be carcinogenic (in high enough quantities). What does (in high enough quantities) mean. If one looks at a well documented case in the US of such a chemical (saccharin). It was listed in the 70's for being a carcinogen if consumed in high enough quantities.

When mice were given enough saccharin to cause cancer. It was found that for an adult human to consume the same amount. A person would have to drink around 1200-1800 cans of cola PER DAY. Hell the caffeine would make your heart explode long before cancer got you. here is an article on it.

The following report was written in December 2000, just after the US Congress finally removed saccharin from a list of substances that cause cancer. Starting next month, you won't see warning labels stating that saccharin causes cancer in laboratory animals. Two weeks ago, The United States Congress passed a health spending bill that removed saccharin from a list of foods that cause cancer. How could Congress have passed a law in 1977 declaring saccharin a cancer causing agent when there was no data to support such nonsense? More than 36 long-term studies have tested whether saccharin causes cancer. Only three have shown an increased incidence of cancer of the bladder, and those were in double generation studies. The animals were given the amount of saccharin found in between 1200 and 1800 soft drinks a day. There were no cases of bladder cancers in those guinea pigs or rats. Then their offspring were also given 1800 soft drinks a day, and 50 percent of the male offspring developed bladder cancer. When an animal takes in that much saccharin, its urine is loaded with saccharin sand. Ammonia, which is found in everyone's urine, causes the massive amounts of saccharin to enter the bladder cells and causes changes in the cells that can start tumors. Studies at Johns Hopkins show that large doses of sugar or salt can cause the same changes in bladder cells as the saccharin. So, in 1977, almost all serious experts in the field publicly stated that saccharin was safe, but the politicians passed a law stating that saccharin may cause cancer. They should have required a warning label stating that drinking 1800 soft drinks a day may cause bladder cancer, but so would the same amount of sugar or sand. It took 24 years for congress to correct their mistake.

Bottom line. I wouldn't believe a microscopic fraction of what the government says. They have a rather dubious track record when it comes to the truth about most anything they talk about.
02:03 February 21, 2013 by sonriete
Public safety, really? Or did she mean public election polls? Judging how her party has evolved over the nuclear issue it is a legitimate question.
05:42 February 21, 2013 by rwk
Oh yes, Fracking is so much more dangerous than burning coal. Coal's environmental damage is well known, where fracking effects are unknown.

[I am being sarcastic]

Bring back nuclear power!
05:44 February 21, 2013 by owlguard
I agree that fracing is not a terrible thing but what is worse is that fracing is not what has opened up production in the USA, it is horizonal drilling. However, Ms Merkel is running for re-election and the people she is talking to have been spoon feed stupid ideas about fracing so I guess she is just speaking to all those who have been gobbling up the enviromental wacko statements about fracing. Easier to go along with them than to try and explain that it is not fracing but horizonal drilling that has increased production.
07:25 February 21, 2013 by KyivJon
The German political goal is NO risk from energy. The only solution for that is NO energy. All industrial processes carry risk, but the current German Green attacks will push industry out of the country.

Fracing has been in use for decades, although the connection to horizontal drilling is what now makes the difference with gas.

Germany needs "dispatchable" or controllable electricity generation to balance the uncontrollable wind and solar generation. There isn't enough hydropower to do that, and coal plants are relatively slow to make changes and are dirty. Gas plants are less dirty and a better match for uncontrollable wind and solar generation.

In the end, Germany will use more gas, either from Russia, or from Poland, or from domestic sources developed with fracing. Or increase electricity prices so much that electric load goes down due to the exodus of industry. That is the societal choice that needs to be made.
08:07 February 21, 2013 by ChrisRea
I find it worrying that both the industry and the US government put so much pressure on those who conduct and report the results of studies on fracking. Cheap energy is good, but it makes sense to force the respective companies to be transparent about the process, before we grant them the right of exploitation.
09:23 February 21, 2013 by simski
Cheap energy through fracking now just means renewable energy sources (and the research thereof) become more unattractive. Sooner or later we're just going to run out of fossil fuels, we should probably switch our energy production to solar et al while we can do so without pressure.
10:12 February 21, 2013 by zeddriver
@simski Your last sentence sounds great "on paper". You might try downloading and watching Professor Brian Cox's interview with the CEO of a windturbine company. From the episode "can we make a star on earth" Even he says it's pie in the sky to completely replace our carbon based energy with solar, wind, bio fuel, nuclear.

It would take building ALL of the following things just to meet our current demand.

FIVE nuke plants per week for the next 25 years, AND

250 Sqm of solar panels per second for the next 25 years,AND

4 Olympic swimming pool sized bacteria ponds (bio fuel) per second for the next 25 years, AND

250 windturbines a second for the next 25 years.

All the above would just be enough to meet current demand. Now add in future expansion. And it becomes clear that we have painted our selves into a corner. There's not a lot we can do to solve it that won't hurt badly. And I mean badly as in mandated population reduction. Huge reductions in the quality of living.
11:37 February 21, 2013 by wood artist
There are multiple unknowns in Fracking, and the US is slowly admitting that they really don't know a whole lot about most of them. The one KNOWN thing is that the companies that sell gas love it...because it makes them lots of money.

The contamination of ground water is confirmed, but people still argue about whether there are any long-term implications from that. There have been numerous claims that geologic instability is increased, with lots of micro quakes experienced. People argue whether fracking is the cause, while others argue that even if they are caused by fracking it's not a big deal. The ultimate claims, which have some documentation, show things like being able to light the well water that comes out of the tap and such.

In summary, fracking does release trapped gas, and gas companies make money that way. As usual, they are more than wiling to take advantage of that output without worrying much about what else might happen. It's a whole lot like BP and the gulf oil spill. Hopefully Germany can avoid those dangers.

12:14 February 21, 2013 by zeddriver
@ wood artist

Quote from you. "As usual, they are more than wiling to take advantage of that output without worrying much about what else might happen. It's a whole lot like BP and the gulf oil spill. Hopefully Germany can avoid those dangers."

The same could be said of the solar, windturbine industries. They are fine with doing away with carbon based energy. Why? Certainly not for altruistic reasons. They like the oil companies see a profit to be made. If not they wouldn't bother.

And should they get their wish. What happens when we have yet another dark, cold sunless winter like this one. What happens if the wind doesn't blow. Do you think they care? You would simply have a new boss (renewable energy companies) that's the same as the old boss. Don't pay and you will freeze or be sat in the dark.

The very best one can hope for with the renewables is a very small supplementation to the existing carbon sources.

it will remain that way until scientists can figure out how to make a small star on earth. Or find a way to create cold fusion.
16:20 February 21, 2013 by owlguard
I have been in the oil and gas industry as a regulator for 26 years and my father and father-in-law worked for oil and gas production companies. The statement made by "wood artist: The contamination of ground water is confirmed, " is wrong. The primary way an oil or gas well ever polutes ground water is when the well is not properly sealed. This was a serious problem with wells drilled 30 to 40 years ago. In the USA if an oil and gas company is found to have polluted ground water it can be sued by the individuals impacted and sued by the government. The company will have to pay damages and fines. In the USA if a person changes the oil of a pumping unit and lets the oil drain on the ground, the company will receive a fine from the USA coast guard for $250,000. I know because I have seen that happen. Oil is a naturally occuring substance that occasionally seeps out of the ground and can be found in rivers and ponds without any drilling. That is how oil was discovered. However, I will say my personal favorite source of motor fuel is Hydrogen and I believe the may be forces at work to prevent the use of hydrogen cars even though it has already been proven to work.
18:05 February 21, 2013 by M Australian
Haven't we & eu been fracked enough!
19:07 February 23, 2013 by ErnestPayne
I was under the impression that the Chancellor had already fracked Germany.
13:41 February 28, 2013 by princigalli
The technique is devastating for the environment and public health. However, I think in Germany the only dialogue possible is between lobbies and politicians. Citizens will probably not be informed of all the facts.
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