The Battle Between Beer and Fracking in Germany
By Michael Schweibinz
One of Germany’s most historically and culturally significant industries may be in jeopardy due to the negative externalities caused by energy producers. The town of Lünne is located in Lower Saxony in the northwestern part of Germany, where das Landhaus-Brauerei Borchert proudly produces over 800,000 liters of authentic German beer every year. Their key ingredient, like any other brewery, is fresh, clean water. However, this precious resource might become quite difficult for the Borchert family to get their hands on in the coming years.
Germany is the eighth largest consumer of natural gas in the world, with much of that supply coming from beyond its own borders. In an attempt to remedy this in the future, U.S.-based ExxonMobil has set up a testing drill in a field right up the street from the local brewery.
This specific plot of land in Lower Saxony is anticipated to be a successful area for hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) which will tap vast underground shale deposits and is expected to produce large quantities of oil and natural gas. The process of fracking includes pumping water, sand, and other chemicals into the shale under high pressure in order to release crude oil and other natural gases. Locals fear that this process will contaminate their local wells and drinking water.
Although Germany is in dire need to produce more of its own energy, many believe that fracking is not the best solution. Other than this new fracking experiment in Lünne, the town also houses a coal mining facility, a nuclear power plant, and dozens of windmills. The advocates for fracking in Lower Saxony claim that it is necessary to frack in order to close down the more environmentally harmful coal mining and nuclear energy production facilities.
This issue is beginning to split German society. There are two distinct sides that are persistent in winning what has become a political stalemate. With this issue having made it to the German Bundesrat (the high parliament), it seems that the need for energy will eventually win out. However, even with the prestige of the German government allowing fracking, it is still very possible and likely that the local governments serving small breweries and other environmental advocates would be able to disallow fracking through local legislation.
You can read more here: German beermakers may be winning their battle to stop fracking
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Posted: September 19, 2014