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Germany to set new rules for fracking

Germany plans to draw up new rules for the controversial method of fracking for gas, which will impose tight restrictions on the technique that has led to a shale gas boom in the US, says Reuters.

The country’s guidelines will include environmental audits and a ban on drilling in areas where water is protected. Germany's ruling parties had promised in their coalition agreement last year to set a legal framework for fracking.

Many Germans oppose fracking due to environmental worries, especially fears about possible contamination of drinking water. Although the technology was used in Germany for decades for deep-lying, or "tight" gas, there has been an effective moratorium on the granting of new permits for the past two years, pending the new rules.

Reuters reports that Economy and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel outlined his plans to draft the guidelines in a letter dated May 23 to the head of the parliamentary budget committee, and that the goal is to have a version of the guidelines ready for the cabinet to approve before its summer recess.

In the coalition deal agreed between Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and Gabriel's Social Democrats (SPD), the section on fracking mentions a "significant potential for risk" and rejects the use of chemicals.

Reuters said that, last month, the state of Lower Saxony, which holds 95% of Germany's gas reserves, tried to speed up an end to the ban on fracking for tight gas by saying it would take a draft law to the Bundesrat upper house.

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