Czech Senate drafts law banning shale gas extraction

Opponents to shale gas extraction claim mining unconventional gas can lead to the contamination of underground water tables

HOT TOP|Politics & Policy|Energy & Green Biz
Brian Kenety | 25.05.2012

Members of the upper house of the parliament have drafted legislation that would ban shale gas extraction in the Czech Republic using hydraulic fracturing, said one of its authors, Petr Pakosta of the center-right Civic Democrats (ODS).

Earlier, the center-right coalition goverment had put forth a number of ammendents with the same aim – drafting a new law was seen as a simpler short cut, the news sever reported Friday.

Co-sponsors of the legislation included senators Jiří Oberfalzer (ODS) of Beroun and Pavel Trpák (Social Democrats, ČSSD) of Trutnov, whose districts had been earmarked for exploratory mining of shale gas — natural gas trapped in rock rather than porous reservoirs.

BasGas Energia Czech, a subsidiary of Australia-based Hutton Energy, had applied for a license to conduct exploration work over an area of nearly 800 square kilometers in the districts of Náchod, Broumlov, and Trutnov in northeast Bohemia. Náchod mayor Jan Birke (ČSSD) and Králové hradec regional governor Lubomír Franc (ČSSD) have pushed for fast-track approval of the law.

In the wake of protests from locals, Environment Minister Tomáš Chalupa (ODS) this April cancelled the provisional exploration license. BasGas Energia Czech can reapply but must “sufficiently take into account the basic public interest, which is the protection of waters, nature and the landscape,” the minister said at the time.

Chalupa, speaking before a Senate hearing on Friday, reiterated that the government has since proposed a two-year moratorium on exploration of shale gas deposits due to concerns over ecological risks, such as the contamination of drinking water.

Opponents to shale gas extraction in the region claim mining the unconventional gas damages the environment and poses a real threat of contamination to underground water tables; France and Bulgaria have banned it. 

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