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Strasbourg, France (AFP) Oct 09, 2013
Extracting shale oil and gas reserves through controversial 'fracking' will in future require an environmental impact study, European lawmakers agreed Wednesday, despite opposition this will add to costs and hurt jobs.
"Despite pressure from the oil and gas lobby, and from some member states, exploration and exploitation of shale (resources) will be subject to the requirement," said French Green Euro MP Sandrine Belier.
"This is a real advance," Belier said, while another French MEP Corrine Lepage claimed: "For once, the general interest has won out."
"Hydraulic fracking causes concern," said Italian MEP Andrea Zanoni who will be in charge of talks with the EU's 28 member states on revising the bloc's current legislation.
Fracking to release oil or gas involves injecting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals at high pressure to crack the shale rock holding them deep underground.
Environmental groups blame it for a whole list of ills, among them damaging underground water reserves and causing earth tremors.
The European Parliament is reviewing environmental legislation now some 20 years old which covers everything from major construction projects on roads and bridges, to waste treatment and farm development.
Shale development is relatively new and has largely slipped under the radar, with smaller projects falling outside current regulations, so not requiring an environmental impact study to assess the risks.
The centre-right European Peoples Party, the largest group in the European Parliament, said the move would only "be another burden for companies in this time of economic difficulty".
"It is irresponsible," said Spanish conservative Cristina Gutierrez-Cortines.
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