Fracking at Home and Abroad: Arrest and Progress
The U.S. has successfully exported industries of all shapes and sizes abroad. From Levi’s jeans to McDonald’s — an industry that could change consumers’ shapes and sizes. Because of this wide exportation, certain products are associated throughout the world as “American.” But not every industry is a winner, and late last week, hydraulic fracturing (widely known as fracking) was dealt blows by France’s Constitutional Council, France’s highest court, and the European Union — potentially blocking big American players Schlumberger Ltd (NYSE: SLB), Haliburton (NYSE: HAL) and Baker Hughes Incorporated (NYSE: BHI) subsidiary BJ Services.
Fracking is the practice of blasting a water, sand, and chemical concoction into the ground in order to free natural gas from shale rocks. The New York Times, in their coverage of the high court in France upholding a ban on fracking, also explained that through the process, the United States has extracted enough gas to claim to be 87 percent self-sufficiency in terms of gas. But this same potential in France was not enough to overturn the ban that stems from a 2011 law passed by then-President Nicholas Sarkozy.
Environmental concerns were at the root of the EU decision as well. Squeaking past a vote that saw 322 for, 311 against, and 14 abstentions, are thorough environmental audits. The audits will need to be conducted by companies before a fracking project can be approved. A final vote still needs to take place, coming after members reach agreement over language. Explaining the decision, the New York Times stipulated that the decision does not impact all natural gas extraction from shale, only when that extraction involves fracking. France’s ban operates in this manner as well, allowing research for other methods of extraction.