The French Parliament has voted 287-146 to ban hydraulic fracturing or fracking, a crucial part of the shale gas extraction process that activists say is harmful to the environment, according to France24. The bill will be voted on by the Senate on June 1 before it becomes a law.
The bill to ban to fracking, but not shale gas exploration itself, was drafted by France’s ruling UMP party and the vote comes after months of protests by environmentalists who are concerned that the process contaminates the water table. Earlier this year, the government granted energy giants exploration permits for work without public consultation, but announced a temporary freeze on shale gas exploration in February.
France could become the first country to ban the controversial practice that involves using ‘slick’ water a combination of water, chemicals and mud, to fracture the rock with hairline cracks and prop open underground fissures. Fracking fluids can be fatal. In Louisiana fracking fluid made it to a pasture killing 17 cows at the farm.
French environment minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet is against fracking entirely. Bloomberg reports:
“I’m against hydraulic fracturing. We have seen the results in the U.S. There are risks for the water tables and these are risks we don’t want to take.
…”It was an error,” Kosciusko-Morizet said of the permits given last year. “These never should have been granted. An environmental evaluation should have been done before giving out the permits and not after.
…Hydraulic fracturing, which has also met resistance in the U.S., “is a technology that we haven’t totally mastered,” she said. “There is only one technology that can be used today to produce shale gas and that’s hydraulic fracturing and we don’t want it.”