France and Europeans say “no” to fracking, again

France’s highest court on Friday upheld a government ban on a controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing. The Constitutional Council ruled against a challenge by Schuepbach Energy, an American company, whose exploration permits were revoked after the French Parliament banned the practice.
The method, known informally as fracking, pumps water, sand and chemicals under high pressure into shale formations deep underground to liberate trapped oil and natural gas deposits.

Environmental concerns, particularly worries about the danger to water supplies, have slowed adoption of the practice in Europe, and the center-right government of former President Nicolas Sarkozy passed a law prohibiting it in 2011.

“This law has been contested several times,” Mr. Hollande said on Friday in a speech after the decision. “It is now beyond dispute.”

In addition to France, Bulgaria has banned fracking. Britain has allowed modest experiments, though those have met with public discontent. Industry hopes that Germany, which decided to end its atomic power after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, would be receptive to fracking have also met with disappointment.

On Wednesday, the European Parliament voted to tighten the rules on fracking, giving initial approval to a measure to require in-depth environmental impact studies on all such projects.

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