Lawmakers in Spain's northern Cantabria region unanimously voted to ban hydraulic fracturing on environmental concerns, shooting down the central government's hopes for a project to boost jobs in a region believed to be rich in shale gas, as per Reuters. Early estimates indicate Spain has large shale gas reserves, but environmentalists have voiced concerns over the safety of the technique, which involves injecting water and chemicals at high pressure into underground rock formations. Spain, battling a deep recession and high unemployment, imports about 76% of its energy needs and fracking could help relieve its foreign dependence on oil, coal and gas.
Cantabria's ruling People's Party (PP), which has an absolute majority in the regional parliament, proposed the law to ban the practice. Experts say if it is done according to best practice it is environmentally safe, but the technology still evokes much public concern, especially in Europe. Poland, which had hoped to be sitting in some of Europe's biggest reserves, had to slash its initial estimates by 90% last year after detailed follow-up surveys and drillings disappointed.